SEO Trends… learnings from BrightonSEO

Like a rolling stone gathers no moss… SEO trends are always moving.

The constantly shifting landscape of SEO and digital PR makes an event such as BrightonSEO incredibly valuable, the sheer mix of SEO professionals on the line-up is nothing short of an inspiration.

The future of SEO is a set of moving goalposts. From Google’s updates to the recent rise in the appeal of generative AI tools. For businesses to make the most out of their digital PR, their content marketing, SERP results, web traffic and more, are going to require a holistic approach towards their online presence.

So, read on to take our insights from what was an incredible two days at the UK’s leading SEO event.

Search engines and AI content

Let’s get the immediate elephant out of the room, AI-generated content was naturally a big talking point at this year’s conference.

The chatter about how traditional search engines like Google will start to de-merit sites for leaning heavily into AI generated content is an interesting one.

This has been an ongoing discussion for a while now, with Google specifically stating in its March 2024 Core Update that it would be penalizing AI-generated content. But the word on the street in Brighton, is that it’s less black and white than this.

Yes, search will be hot on the tail of AI content. But rather those that flood their sites with swathes of unfettered AI content in a bid to sway the Google search results in their favour, by publishing content, stuffed with keywords en masse.

AI tools are increasingly being utilized by marketers to streamline SEO tasks and create content that aligns with quality guidelines, enhancing both the efficiency and effectiveness of their strategies.

Using AI to grease the wheels of ideation is no bad thing. When used appropriately, they can be incredibly helpful content tools. Likely, you won’t be penalised if you’re using AI in content creation, but if you’re using AI as the sole creator, and filling your site pages with it… that’s going to be a problem.

But most importantly, that content has to be helpful content.

EEAT

Expertise. Experience. Authoratitiveness. Trustworthiness. The future of SEO might very well be bound by these four words.

When we talk about EEAT, it always comes with the caveat that Google does not consider EEAT as one of its true ranking factors. By this, we mean that the page-crawling bots, don’t consider EEAT over keywords and such when it designates page ranking factors and SERP position.

But this doesn’t mean they aren’t really important, and the concept of EEAT was hit upon many times during this year’s BrightonSEO.

Expertise is becoming more important than ever and the people making the call here, are Google’s Quality Raters.

So while these aren’t one of the direct ranking factors, these quality raters provide valuable insights that help search engines understand the context behind any given piece of content.

As SEO continues to shift and swirl, those competing for priority spots in search engine results pages need to be looking at how their content hits Google’s content guidelines with just as much focus as they put into their keyword strategies.

Content is king… or is it?

You’ve likely heard it said thousands of times over, that content is king.

But what if we told you that it wasn’t, not really? But rather that it was context that was king.

This was an interesting notion that was thrown up and one that does ring true. Particularly when we view it alongside EEAT.

If we consider all of your brand assets and touchpoints as a whole – your website(s), your socials and any other online presence you may have. The content for content’s sake is not a practice that should be followed.

Content, purely in and of itself is not going to make you stand out. That content, be it the written word, video, image, or animation, needs to be well-formed, well thought-out, helpful and meet any guidelines – such as EEAT or any laid down by regulatory bodies your industry may be bound to.

Move over traditional search engines

We have Google, Bing, Chrome and Safari. But what about Reddit, TikTok and YouTube?

One of the major ongoing shifts in SEO trends is the consumption pattern around search engines themselves.

SEO strategies need to be shifted to match this change in habit and user intent. There’s a generation coming through that doesn’t use Google as their first port of call. They are more engaged in YouTube or are quick to jump onto Reddit to source information about a business or individual.

Strategically this presents a challenge for businesses traditionally focussed on building their presence within the SERP of Google. It also presents a challenge for businesses and brands in their content creation and content strategies.

To be seen, fully, across a broad spectrum of search queries and shifting user behaviour requires an ongoing commitment not just to written content, but to a much richer and broader content spectrum. Understanding and adapting to user behaviour, which is constantly evolving due to technological advancements, is crucial. Analyzing user preferences and search intent is key to creating competitive and helpful content that aligns with the latest SEO trends and Google’s algorithm changes.

Google isn’t shrinking, nor is it being replaced… search intent is just widening.

The power of storytelling

Taking a brief step away from the world of data-led, technical SEO trends, we must make mention of the art of storytelling.

Because your expertise and knowledge are nothing if you can’t engage with your audiences in a way that hits home

Building what Pascalle Bergmans refers to as emotional urgency is a way to achieve this. Using the theories of Pathos, Logos and Ethos we can tailor our stories to certain points of the marketing and sales journey.

You have to be able to tell your stories in a meaningful way. Stories that engage, entertain and enlighten your audiences, because information doesn’t equal communication. Getting in doesn’t mean getting through and hearing doesn’t mean understanding.

So, be memorable. Disrupt. Grab attention and make people feel something. But most importantly, don’t get lost trying to push your audience on the path you want them to take, rather the path they want to take.

Brand SEO

The internet is getting cluttered. So how can you stand out on a busy search engine results page?

Enter the world of Brand SEO.

Brand SEO combines four elements of your online presence; content, technical, UX and Links.

This is a holistic approach to your digital presence and works to enhance your brand signals in search results. For instance, as one of the world’s strongest brands, Apple owns 51 positions in the SERP. You have to scroll a long way before you even get a mention of the fruit!

This is all about owning your own brand real estate. From the technical minutia – like ensuring all your images are properly labelled with alt text, that your content is engaging and valuable and your internal linking systems are supporting this content. But it also factors in the UX of your site, an often overlooked aspect in SEO, but critical nonetheless. A great UX will not only help your core web vitals but also ensure that the visitor is engaged right from the top of the fold.

In summary

You simply cannot condense two days at BrightonSEO into one blog… it would be impossible and impractical to do so.

But what is important to take away, is that in such a noisy and competitive online landscape, no one thing is going to ensure success.

Looking ahead to the future of SEO and the role that digital PR has to play, a holistic approach, connecting everything from keyword research to social media, informative content and not switching off to platforms like TikTok is going to become what’s needed to succeed.