This is the third and final instalment in our blog series on last month’s BrightonSEO conference. We’re rounding off with our three favourite takeaways from the day, all of which we think will be key focuses for the digital marketing industry over the coming years.
1. SEO is About Having the Best Answer in the Most Conversational Format
The first lightning talk of the day in the main auditorium was by Greg Gifford of Wikimotive. Greg’s talk, entitled “Beetlejuice’s Guide to Entities and the Future of SEO”, was a fascinating journey through the state of SEO today and where it’s headed. It was a brilliant combination of being highly technical, but also clear for SEO beginners to understand.
In broad summary, Greg’s message was that SEO has become a lot less about ranking factors such as links, meta descriptions, and keywords. Yes, they’re still important and certainly play a part, but the main determiner of whether your page will rank highly is the degree to which it matches the intent of the searcher. According to Greg, this is a move that Google has been making gradually over the years, ever since the significant Hummingbird algorithm update in 2013.
It comes down to the fact that to achieve a top spot in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages), your page must provide the most relevant answer to the searcher’s query. It’s also got to deliver that answer in the same way a human would to another human. In other words, conversationally, so that the searcher can not only easily find, but also clearly understand, the information they’re looking for.
We think it’s nothing but a positive move for Google’s ranking criteria to become synonymous with making the internet a more useful and fact-based place! Yet, it does mean that some SEO professionals may need to rethink their approach.
2. It Would Take 31 Years for a Human to Count to 1 Billion (so AI is Vital)
This is definitely one of those statistics that makes you do a double-take. But that’s not all; it’s also a very good reason for why we need the development of artificial intelligence (AI).
At the moment, it’s safe to say that no one’s really sure what the impact of AI will be on humankind. There are genuine concerns from some, along with scaremongering by others. Sal Mohammed from Adzooma sought to address the anxiety and uncertainty surrounding AI in his BrightonSEO presentation: “Why AI Will Be a Key Part of Your Team, Not a Replacement”.
The shocking fact that it would take a human a staggering 31 years to count to the number one billion is a great example of why AI is needed and how it can be utilised. As said by Sal, AI will be invaluable in automating some of the tasks that would prove too long-winded or unnecessarily complicated for a human to complete. With the pressure of such tasks removed, humans are free to focus their time and energy elsewhere.
It’s also important not to forget that there are human skills that it is very unlikely technology will be able to develop – empathy, for example. The best, and most optimistic, way to look at the relationship between humans and AI is as well-needed support.
3. Employee Wellbeing Must Be Addressed
There were some really important talks in the Wellbeing and Inclusion stream by Allegra Chapman and Amy McManus. The topic for both speakers was the mental health of those working in the digital industry, where it is now, and where it needs to be.
Some of the statistics quoted were:
- Only 51% of people report they are happy in their jobs
- 43% of millennials will quit their job within the next 2 years
- The digital industry has the highest rate of staff turnover for any industry
- It takes an average of 28 weeks to get a new recruit up to speed
- Feeling happy in a job improves productivity by 20%
What’s Going Wrong?
Of course, every workplace is different and happiness at work is dependent on multiple aspects. However, there are some factors, consistent across the digital industry, that are likely contributing to the current problems with employee wellbeing.
1. The Workforce is Young
A fact is that the digital workforce consists of a high number of younger people – particularly those in their 20s and 30s. The reason for this is because these generations have grown up with technology; it’s second nature to them, which isn’t always the case for older generations. However, along with issues like Brexit and climate change, these generations are facing a range of uncertainty and pressured sociological issues outside of work. All of this will be contributing to their general sense of wellbeing, which will also be having an impact on their jobs.
2. Screen Time is High
For many, a consequence of being a digital native is spending an incredible amount of time looking at screens every day. This means high blue light exposure, which can often lead to problems with sleeping and trouble “switching off” (accidental pun!).
3. There’s Pressure from Social Media
Again, a high number of people working in the digital industry have grown up with the pressure of meeting a “social media ideal”. Instagram, we’re looking at you. Last year, a study into the negative effect of social media on mental health found not only correlation but causation between time spent on social media with loneliness and depression.
4. The Pace of Change within the Industry is Fast
Things change every day in the digital industry. There are new developments, advert formats, and algorithm adjustments around every corner! As such, it can be difficult for those working in the industry to keep up. It’s easy to feel that you can’t afford to take time off in case you miss something important. As Amy McManus said in her talk, you can go to sleep an expert but wake up a novice. This can lead to the feeling of imposter syndrome, which contributes to a decline in employee wellbeing.
With World Mental Health Day earlier this month, it’s very timely that we’re talking about the wellbeing of digital workers. But this should really be an issue that’s addressed by both employees and their employers every day of the year. If you’re struggling, or know a friend or colleague that is, start by checking out these resources.
More Takeaways from BrightonSEO
It’ll be interesting to see how these three topics are addressed by the digital marketing industry over the next few years, and also the impact they each will have on audiences, businesses and the workforce.
For more takeaways from BrightonSEO’s September 2019 conference, don’t miss the first post in our series, which summarises the powerful keynote delivered by Dave Trott.
If you have any questions or wish to discuss your SEO strategy or any other aspect of your marketing, then don’t hesitate to contact one of our friendly experts.