Twice a year SEOs and other digital marketing types head en masse to Brighton, not just for the culture or the beach, but to share knowledge about internet marketing as a whole. Often delegates want to show off what they’ve done, but just as often, the most valuable talks are from those who’ve looked into the future and seen a better way of doing things.
Last Friday Brighton Dome was crammed with enough SEOs to populate perhaps the whole of Hove too. The Brighton SEO event has become so ingrained in the UK SEO community that it’s significant that last Friday’s will be the final one at that historical location. Its success has meant the next event will be held at the much larger Brighton Centre to allow for over four times the delegates. With tickets selling out in less than a minute for the most recent event it’s no real surprise that a burgeoning industry needs more space for its experts to assemble.
Talks concisely covered themes such as preparing for the future, the importance of getting content to work harder in social spaces and technical SEO.
The Future of SEO
It’s clear from speakers that the future of SEO is in helping build and promote websites so relevant to the user’s intent that Google would blush not to rank it highly.
How to prepare for the future strategically is a topic that’s at the forefront of discussion. You’ll often hear of SEO being an investment for the future with preparation for that future becoming increasingly important as it gathers pace – rather like a snowball gathering speed downhill. It is no surprise, then, that the future of SEO was explored substantially and future-proofing sites for success remained a focal point. With exciting topics such as the branded TLDs on the agenda, I anticipated a day that would cater for many industries.
A somewhat startling fact that emerged is that by 2020, 40% of all consumers will belong to Generation Z, that is, those born in the nineties and early thous. This is a generation of digital natives weaned on social media – those who could type before they formed cursive handwriting. With this in mind we tend to think mobile-first when designing sites because we feel we know how our consumers purchase, but Generation Z is truly mobile-first. The notion that a world preceded mobile, one in which people didn’t possess mobiles, let alone smartphones, is an alien concept.
In a recent survey, 55% of 18 year olds said they’d rather buy clothes online than in-store. Similarly the majority of young consumers would purchase books and electronics online. Therefore their method of purchase is well established. Gen Y’s – millennials like myself – are impatient almost by definition, but the desire to access information, interact or transact immediately is nothing compared to Gen Z’s lust for fingertip-ready information.
All digitation, therefore, must be fast, concise and accessible – especially if you’ve got a young audience. The young people of today are the consumers of tomorrow, so by keeping an eye on the trends and desires that preoccupy your audience you can keep your brand fresh to avoid stagnation.
Anticipating a user’s needs
The best way to the heart of any consumer is to solve a problem they didn’t even know they had. An example of this is in one of my neighbours who had a plumbing incident. He immediately sought to discover how to turn the water off by going online. Sure enough, he found an article that described the process of turning the stopcock off, but needed to go elsewhere to discover what one looked like. If an article doesn’t have a picture of a stopcock, however, then a stand alone how to piece is redundant, and users must go elsewhere. Therefore the importance should be placed on revisiting content regularly to ensure it responds to user search data well enough to keep users on your site, or at least make it easy for them to search for the content then and there without having to go back to Google. Understanding how customers read and travel through a site and make that journey straightforward is crucial to retaining a top ranking position.
Discover more about customer-centric SEO
Our forthcoming summer SEO event focuses on placing the customer at the centre of search. We’re inviting guest speakers and industry experts to discuss in depth the topics that all businesses and brands must contend with. I shall be delivering a session on the planning stages of making massive international websites using branded TLDs to stand out from the crowd and present a unique user experience.