brightonSEO: the lowdown

By Will Davis
May 2024
brightonSEO conference

An iconic beachfront, endless creative hotspots and plenty of lively bars. Just a couple of reasons that Brighton is home to the world’s largest search marketing conference, brightonSEO. I saw this year’s conference as an excellent opportunity to meet like-minded individuals, develop my range of skills and bring some valuable insights back to our Darley Abbey studio. So, I packed my bags and jumped on the train to Brighton…

Why brightonSEO?

I’ve been an SEO and content executive at Fluid Ideas for nearly two years, with my primary focus being producing and structuring content. I’ve always enjoyed keyword research, creative copywriting, and the whole shebang. 

However, this year especially, I’ve had a serious itch for filling my boots with SEO goodness from all angles, as I work towards being a bit of an all-round specialist in the ever-changing world of organic search. This meant I had to work on my technical and link-building skills, as alongside content strategy, the three together make up the primary concepts of SEO in the organic search landscape. 

We’re fortunate enough at Fluid to be given a development budget each calendar year, with the idea being that we spend it on an initiative that helps progress our professional career. So, after doing a bit of (organic) research, brightonSEO was a perfect opportunity for me and the agency – thanks to the unique training courses they offer and the amount of expert talkers on show. 

brightonSEO started in a small room above a pub in 2010, and its come a long way since then, with over 4000 attendees and an overseas event held in San Diego, too. 

brightonSEO’s training courses run the day before the main conference starts, and attending one of these automatically gives you access to the conference. They are all led by an experienced industry professional. After doing a bit of research and gathering information on the courses, I booked onto the Beginner’s SEO training, which promised a hands-on theme throughout and real-life exercises to gain experience. 

Shortly after booking, I received a parcel with a funky t-shirt and some socks in it, all complete with brightonSEO branding, just to sweeten the deal. 

Day one: The course

Prior to the course starting, I went for a little jog along the beachfront to get my juices flowing. Like many people, I find doing this the best way to kickstart my brain for the day, and I was due to have my first day in a classroom since graduating from university two years ago (how time flies).

I arrived at my session at 9am, and was cheerfully greeted by the brightonSEO team, given a name badge and directed to the coffee and breakfast area. As more keen marketing folk started arriving, we instantly got chatting about what the day had in store for us (as well as catching up on the football, obviously). Attending an event like this alone can be a little daunting, but the atmosphere was very welcoming and made me feel very at ease from the get go.

Several courses were happening on the day, each with about 10-15 attendees, and one SEO guru teaching. My course was run by an experienced digital marketing consultant and CTO of an international e-commerce company, so he certainly knew his stuff. 

The training was split into four sessions, with each session covering several topic focuses and different elements of SEO, covering foundational aspects of SEO, including technical, content and link-building practices, as well the potential impact of AI on SEO, content concepts such as E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness & Trustworthiness) and YMYL (Your Money, Your Life), the constant battle of algorithm changes affecting your organic traffic and how to overcome potential challenges and stay on top in the SERPs. Phew! It’s fair to say that the training gave a detailed overview of the concepts I was there to learn, as well as some surprises.

Here are some of my key takeaways:

Gone are the days of chasing a high ranking in the search results 
A far stronger approach is to take the time to attract relevant, useful traffic that has a higher potential of converting. Google is clever enough to understand if site visitors aren’t engaging with your site.

Content is king
It’s vital to understand your audience whilst offering useful and relevant content to them. I was inspired by new ideas around curating content, and given the tools to run deep site audits and fix potential technical errors. 

Backlinks still have a huge role in SEO performance
As much as some like to disagree, backlinks still have a huge part to play in your SEO performance. But the quality is what matters. 

Don’t be fooled by quick wins
A point that really stood out to me was the importance of not over-simplifying your SEO strategy looking for quick wins, and to really focus on the long-term outcomes by effectively building an emotional rapport with your audience, perfecting the language that you speak to your audience in and pointing them towards a world of content they trust. 

The training gave me valuable insights into the world of SEO I hadn’t touched on professionally yet, and being able to ask questions related to my client’s challenges was a real bonus for me. 

Afterwards, we headed downstairs for a complimentary drink before I headed for dinner, a walk along the beachfront and back to my hotel to get ready for the first day of the conference. 

Day two: The conference

I started my day with a run along the beachfront, organised by brightonSEO – right up my street. At the same time, a beach clean up and a yoga session were happening, giving those attending the option of fresh air and exercise before a day of learning and networking. 

The conference was hosted at the Brighton Centre – the biggest venue in the city, which is used for music events, theatre and other exciting exhibitions. But for four days of the year (there is another brightonSEO here in October), it turns into a sea of marketing enthusiasts and company stands displaying their new services or software offerings. 

There were six large rooms being used for talks throughout the day, with a whopping three talks being held each hour. I ducked into various talks throughout the day, and found them all presented excellently by industry specialists and agency folk like myself, which inspires me to one day have the knowledge and presenting power that these guys did.

Hearing about the ever-changing SEO landscape from different perspectives was very interesting, and it was very useful for me to absorb tips and tricks for all aspects of search marketing, in the hope that I could implement these at some point in the near future. 

As well as this, I learned of the power of using social media to inform your content strategy, and not to be disheartened if no-one is searching for your content yet – if you’ve correctly forecasted what people will be searching for using new techniques and trends – it will come.

After the conference, I grabbed a quick bite before jumping on the train back to Derby. I was all networked-out, but I had a large bag of goodies with me to remind me of my first ever brightonSEO. 

I’m still buzzing from my brightonSEO experience. With my Brighton SEO socks on, and a notebook full of notes from my training and the several talks I attended, I went back to agency life with a bit of a fresh view on SEO. 

I think it’s very common for people in industry to follow the rules, but brightonSEO taught me these are changing, and quickly too. Google and other search engines are becoming increasingly intelligent, so the importance of useful, genuinely relevant content is now more prominent than ever. I came away with the confidence to try new content strategy techniques, because as long as you have your audience and their needs at the forefront of your strategies, you’ll see progress. 

Also, AI won’t take our jobs. 

Socks and brightonSEO conferences