BrightonSEO gets emotional

12 May 2016
By atom42

When did SEO get so trendy? We’d hazard a guess that the audience at April’s BrightonSEO was around 70% hipster. We also thought it was the biggest & best BrightonSEO EVER, & Twitter agreed:

screenshot of tweet commenting on large turnout for Brighton SEO conference.

Screenshot of tweet from Laura Crimmons

screenshot of tweet praising the Brighton SEO conference.

What’s more, event organiser Kelvin Newman announced that September’s conference will be held at a bigger venue, the Brighton Centre, after April’s 1,700 tickets sold out in under 60 seconds.

Those SEOs who managed to shoehorn themselves into April’s event at the Brighton Dome may have spotted an unofficial theme for the day. By our evaluation, emotions were either central to, or a major part of, every presentation we attended.

The crowd loved these BrightonSEO talks, created by some of the top SEO minds on the planet.


Erica McGillivray, Senior Community Manager at Moz, spoke about how your online community’s emotions are vital to the success of your brand. “Nothing speaks more about a brand than how big their community is and how happy their community is, too,” she said.

Erica warned SEOs to be careful so as not to ruffle feathers. “A lot of language is lost online, when there’s no body language,” she pointed out, “and there’s only a tiny overlap with what someone writes compared with what the other person understands.”

According to Erica, we need to consider how diverse our audience is when making comments as a brand. “Your community may be way more diverse than you think it is,” she said. “Could your comments unwittingly contain ‘microaggression’? How will your community interpret your comments? Could a joke be taken offensively? Always be empathetic to your community.”


Neuroscience expert Amy Brann spoke about how we can build trust and improve the emotional connection with our audience, both in the physical world and online.

“Oxytocin is hugely important when we want to trust someone, build a relationship, to be empathetic, to connect,” she said. “The best way of releasing oxytocin is orgasm, but this is impractical in many working scenarios! A hug can be more practical.”

But there are other, less tactile ways of encouraging the release of oxytocin, which we can apply to our online marketing, said Amy. “Say what you’re going to do and then do it. If we don’t, it has a really negative affect on us. Other things we can do include sharing the bad stuff, like when you make a mistake, you actually say sorry and own up to it. This can build trust.”

But what can turn off the ‘cuddle hormone’? “Being self-serving can really have a negative effect,” said Amy. “Be human. Share real, human stuff. This will increase the release of oxytocin, which can then bond people together. This will all help to forge these relationships and then strengthen them.”

Another way to improve relationships, said Amy, is to be a friend. “Flood people’s bodies with dopamine by treating them as a friend. Do something unexpected, or share information that’s useful to them.”

EMOTIONAL SEO by @LisaDMyers & @JamesFinlayson

Lisa Myers and James Finlayson spoke about why SEOs need to start to think emotionally. “People make decisions emotionally first, then try to justify them logically,” said Lisa. “What we need to do is make that emotional connection with our audience.”

James gave a practical example of how emotions can affect our work as SEOs: “Emotional investment through collaboration really improves the chances of the success of outreach.”

During their talk, Lisa and James surprised the audience by launching a brand new sentiment tracking tool: Lava. The tool tracks newspaper sentiment over time and provides a list of articles which reference your brand or search term.

LOCAL SEO by @greggifford

Greg Gifford spoke about Local SEO – targeting a specific geographic area. He explained how understanding what people in a given area will actually enjoy reading can transform your local SEO.

“Make your blog a local destination,” he said. “Share things that people want to read, not: ‘come buy my s**t’. Instead, write about what’s happening locally.”

In terms of pleasing the search engines? “Get links from local businesses. Not just high domain authority links. Local churches, preschools, little leagues – they’re from hyperlocal sites which give you a lot of authority in the local algorithm. Don’t be afraid of nofollows if they’re local sites.”

Greg pointed out how much PPC ads can do for your local SEO. “PPC kicks ass for targeting local customers,” he said. “You’ve got to do PPC ads if you’re trying to target local customers. Local search is now four ads at the top. On mobile, you only see ads. For the best visibility, you have to pay for it.”

Greg then spoke about the brilliance of Facebook ads when targeting people locally. “Facebook ads are now the ‘cool guy’,” he said. “You can target users by insane demographics. Custom audiences run ads to the people on your database. You can also create a ‘lookalike audience’ so people don’t get ‘ad fatigue’.”

Finally, Greg showed how hyperlocal you can get with Facebook advertising, by using local awareness ads in Facebook. “Drop a map pin and people near it will see your ad,” he said. “Drop the pin on competitors. Drop it on sports events. Wherever people are going to be looking at their phones. Run an ad at a conference centre – one mile radius – saying: ‘we know you’re here’”


Hannah Butcher used her status as both a blogger and an SEO to explain how bloggers feel when we’re looking for links from them.

“Bloggers have a niche demographic of people with a real passion for your subject,” said Hannah. “They may be able to reach exactly the right people for your brand.

“But bloggers are different from journalists,” she added. “They have a passion for the subject and aren’t paid. Journalists have a passion for writing and are paid.”

Bloggers might not understand about nofollows, noted Hannah. “We should remind them to use one if we’ve paid or provided free stuff,” she said. “This may lead to a long term relationship.”

Any other ways to get in a blogger’s good books? “Keep in touch with bloggers outside of opportunities to maintain the relationship,” said Hannah. “First, tell them you read their blog and liked something. Then, later, you can contact them as a marketer with more success.”

Contact Us
Contact Us

Get in touch

Visit us at:

10 Queen Street Place
Thames Exchange