27 . 4 . 17

Key Takeaways from Brighton SEO

Brighton SEO, one of the key events in the SEO calendar , took place a few weeks ago and brought together some of the leading industry experts to share knowledge with us so that we get a little bit better at what we do. A few of us from twentysix headed down south to hear what their knowledgeable speakers from around the world had to say and to network with them. With a lot of insights to share here are some we picked out from the event.

  1. AI and Structured Data: How voice search raises the stakes for businesses

Raj Nijjer, who is VP of community and oversees Community Development at Yext, kicked off the day with his talk about the ‘future of search’, and in the presentation he rather dauntingly projects the growth of ‘screenless’ devices over the next few years. He comments that;

by 2020 around 50% of searches online will be carried out by voice alone. 

While this estimation initially may seem rather optimistic, especially in such a short period of time, it may not come as such a shock to some as this has been on the agenda of search engines for a few years and the push towards voice search is arguably the next logical step, following the vast growth in mobile search. We have adapted to incorporate search into our daily lives through our mobile devices – a process that was once confined to a bulky desktop located in the corner of the dining room. It makes sense that the next progression would be to remove the need to actively make a search using a screen and keyboard; this process is becoming far too tiresome for the modern consumer.

How can voice search be used?

According to SearchEngineLand, there is currently an even split between how voice search is being used by the public, these are:

  • Personal Assistant – e.g Shopping lists, reminders, online bookings which makes up around 27% of current usage
  • Fun and Entertainment – e.g interactive games, accessing film and TV information which makes up around 21% of current usage
  • General Information – e.g searching for news and recipes which makes up around 30% of current usage
  • Local Information – e.g finding local restaurants, directions, local weather which makes up around 22% of current usage

This split highlights that there is a need for businesses operating within any industry to understand how the growth in voice search will change the way in which their target audience interact with their brand online.

What does this mean for SEO?

In his presentation, Raj summarised some of the key implications that the growth in voice search will have on SEO:

1) “If you are not in the knowledge graph, you just won’t show up” – Ensuring that information about your brand is both present and up to date within the knowledge graph is key to ensuring that you remain visible as voice devices become more and more popular. Google uses this information to inform consumers about your brand, so if there is information missing or incorrect then this could result in lower brand engagement.

2) Structured data is vital – Structured data helps Google to better understand your business and informs them as to whether your business should appear for a specific search query. For example, if a user searches for ‘hotels in leeds with wifi’, then in order to inform Google that your hotel has wifi, structured data should be added so that Google will know that your hotel listing will likely satisfy that users search query.


3) Importance of local data – Local searches on mobile devices have grown significantly over the past few years:


As voice search grows, so will the number of ‘micro moment’ style searches – the ‘I want to go’, ‘I want to do’ style searches. In order for Google to be able to correctly return your business as a result, it is essential that local information is controlled and kept up to date so that Google can provide accurate local results on desktop, mobile and voice devices. Currently, Amazon Echo uses Yelp’s database to provide local search results, as well as local reviews to determine which results it returns to a local search query. It is vital that businesses understand where this data is being pulled from so that they continue to appear for local search results in the future,

4) The need to test – Put simply it is important that businesses are actively testing on these devices; test what they know and understand about your brand, whether they can accurately pin point you shop locations, what reviews they can pull in and so forth.

With a 140% increase in the sales of voice search devices YoY, it is hard to deny that there is a change taking place; one that will have a major impact on brands and those working within the digital marketing industry. If the projected growth figures are to be believed, then it is vital that brands take action to ensure that they are able to remain competitive when there are screens involved and equally when they are not.

2) Why SEO & Content Marketing Must Always Be Data Driven

In his presentation, Marcus Tober from Searchmetrics talked in detail about the need for data driven content writing. He states that content writers need to be using data from available tools in order to produce content that’s relevant to the users and ultimately has a purpose.
Marcus discusses the conversion funnel in his presentation and highlights that as we move down the conversion funnel, search volume sees a decrease as a user’s conversion intent increases. The pages that are towards the end of the conversion funnel are largely category and product pages. One area in which Marcus believes that it is towards the top of the funnel where a number of brands are neglecting their content and are really losing out on an opportunity.

conversion funnel

As Marcus discussed, Tesco for example may sell both iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones on their site but they don’t have any content that directly compares the two models, as shown in the image below.


The ‘awareness’ and ‘consideration’ phases are where Marcus thinks companies such as Tesco are missing out, as there is a large amount of search volume attached to these types of searches. Producing this type of content would help to improve Tesco’s online presence and could lead to a conversion further down the line as well as retention. This model should be applied to businesses of all sizes as looking at content from a data perspective can actually help bring you closer to your target market and provide the content that they want to read.

3) Is your camera the new search box?

Purna Virji from Microsoft-Bing took us through the visual world of search, explaining that we do everything with our eyes and understandably we are 80% more likely to engage with content which contains visuals. As we know this is more and more important in our Offsite campaigns and visuals take a front seat to making engaging content. Generation Z (ages 1-20) communicate with images daily; they are on ipads, tablets, smartphones from so young that digital is fully ingrained into their lives.
Image searching has also improved and you can simply drag an image into google image search to learn more about it, making it ever easier to not have to write a sentence and find what you’re looking for. As Purna comments in her talk, soon we will be able to take photos when we are out shopping and find similar items elsewhere on the high-street by just a quick upload of an image. This is the next logical area for brands to invest in, especially in the mobile age in which consumers are becoming increasingly demanding and want quick, specific answers to their search queries.

Google have recently launched their ‘similar items’ feature on mobile . This is a tool to identify products (and more importantly where to purchase them) using image search alone. Currently this is limited to a few clothing items, but will soon be rolled out across a wider spectrum of products. In order to appear within Google’s similar items, products will need to marked up using the product meta data schema. As we move towards a less keyword-reliant way of searching, this presents a fairly exciting opportunity for e-commerce sites to utilise this new feature and create a potentially profitable traffic stream.
Pinterest have also upped their game and we can now shop the look on any image we see, which will bring up real products from around the web for us to purchase. What was once a nice, image sharing platform has now joined the conversion funnel and allows consumers to make purchases directly from the discovery phase. This makes it more important as a retail company to be aware of these changing technologies and to consider how your company can benefit and take advantage of these changes.

The growth in VR

Virtual and Augmented reality will also change the place of retail over the next few years to come. For example the Microsoft HoloLens allows 3D products to sit in your home to see if it would fit before you make a purchase. The level of investment that this technology is receiving ( $30 billion in investment over the next 3 years), demonstrates how businesses are seeing these technologies as opportunities to interact with consumers on a greater level.


Some examples of current VR activity:
• Sephora used a virtual artist which applies makeup to your face so that you can work out what suits you, without the hassle of having to go into store and try on products if you’re pushed for time.
• Zeekit- was used by Designer Rebecca Minkoff at LFW which allowed women to hold up their camera and see how this outfit on the catwalk would look on them.
The use of these technologies is limitless, and if what the experts say is to be believed, they look set to change the way businesses and consumers interact forever.


That was just a small insight into some of the many insightful talks we saw throughout the day. There are a number of challenges up ahead that businesses will need to face and adapt to in order to fully benefit from the changing search landscape, but from our point of view the opportunities and potential benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.


Rajj Nijjer:

Marcus Tober:

Purna Virgi:

Daniel RowlandsDaniel joined twentysix in 2015 as an SEO Analyst LinkedIn.

sarah forsterSarah joined twentysix in 2016 as Junior Campaign Executive LinkedIn.

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