Be more human. Be more simple.
Lessons from Brighton SEO 2019, as a creative dropped into a tech world.
When Dave Trott took the stage for the keynote, he began by stating “I know I’m not in SEO, I’m in advertising. But there’s similarities... each of us have to kill the competitor.” And just like that, I realised what bound us all together.
A couple months prior, I had put my name into the ballot for a free ticket to Brighton SEO along with a few others here at Bottle. When I got the email offering me a free ticket, I took it as a sign from the universe (or whoever’s behind the curtain choosing attendees) to just go.
And I’m glad that I did.
To my surprise, the emphasis that I expected to be on hacks and numbers turned out to be on humans and stories instead. It was all about being memorable.
SEO consultant Stacey MacNaught started off the day by referencing the crazy space-jump stunt that Red Bull did, bringing home the point that “activities that generate links are not always link-building activities”. The stunt was just a really cool thing. People love cool shit; therefore, people will link to it. She urged that we “focus more on stories and less on dressing the content up”. Amen sister. Do something memorable.
Carrie Rose was next up, and highlighted the story-factor again saying, when speaking to journalists, “I create stories. I don’t kiss arse.” She then took us on a little deep dive into ways she stands out amongst the 600+ emails a journalist gets each day. What did it involve? Differentiating yourself from the others and creating a captivating story for them. Make something memorable.
More good news came from Becky Simms when she reminded us that Google mimics humans better than ever before, which allows us to talk to people like humans and still remain searchable. She provided a cool tool called ratemycontent, where you can paste a link to your content and it will quickly analyse five different ‘human’ metrics to see if you’re using language that is engaging to readers. Write something memorable.
Finally, enter Dave Trott and his keynote Simple is Smart. Complicated is Stupid.
He began with a statistic that in advertising and marketing, 4% is remembered positively, 7% is remembered negatively, and 89% isn’t remembered at all.
I repeat: 89% isn’t remembered at all.
It’s scary to think about all the money, time and strategy that goes into 89% that isn’t even noticed.
He gave us a simple illustration to highlight a common reason why this happens:
Imagine someone throwing 10 tennis balls at you, how many are you going to be able to catch?
Well if it were me, probably none.
But if someone were to toss you just one ball, it would be a pretty straightforward catch.
And this is the problem we’re faced with – we’re prone to believe the common misconception that a complex idea is intelligent. Why highlight just one reason you need this product when we can give you ten?
Because simple is memorable. Simple means throwing one ball instead of ten.
As an industry, we’re spending too much time trying to figure out how the marketing and technology works and not enough time on how humans work.
So, let’s take it back to timeless human truths and focus on one simple idea at a time. Create something memorable - and if it is, the people (and the links) will follow.
*All imagery has been stripped back to Sharpie in order to celebrate the simplicity and effectiveness of Dave Trott’s projected Sharpie drawings instead of slides at his keynote. We just don’t do that enough anymore