The UK’s largest search conference, BrightonSEO, seems to be getting bigger and bigger each year. This year, there were nearly 4,000 attendees. Two of them were from our digital team. From voice search and local SEO, to AI and machine learning – we went to hear a lot of top speakers talk about the future of search.

Here are 10 interesting stats and facts we picked up on the day that’ll get us all thinking more strategically about SEO and all things digital.

1. By 2020, 50% of searches will be voice searches

The first talk of the day was by Raj Nijjer from Yext. He discussed the impact that voice search will have on SEO and digital marketing throughout the year. With the introduction of Amazon Alexa and Google Home, voice-activated personal assistants are on the rise. This means that instead of people typing keywords into a search engine to find what they need, all they need to do is speak to Alexa or Google.

2. Millennials communicate with text. Generation Z communicate with images.

Keywordless searches will be the norm, according to Purna Virji from Microsoft. As above, there are so many different aspects of search that don’t focus just on keywords. As we all get older, our search habits and the way we communicate with others changes. Generation Z (ages one to 20 to us oldies!) are more likely to communicate with images instead of text, meaning we have to change the way we search to stay ahead of the game. Instead of focussing on optimising content for keywords, we need to review the way we optimise images on our pages.

3. 55% of online product searches start on Amazon NOT Google

Ranking for ecommerce can be difficult, but the key is to be as knowledgeable about your products as you can be. Product content on your site is the equivalent of staff in a physical shop. It’s how people get as much information as they can about the things they want to buy on your site. Amazon does this really well and 55% of product searches begin on Amazon rather than Google. The moral of the story? Just do what Amazon does…

4. Videos increase our understanding of a product by 74%

Alongside ‘normal’ content – like text and a couple of images – videos are the way forward in engaging potential customers and enticing them to purchase from your site. Sites like ASOS use video really well – you can see what items of clothing look like on real people so you know exactly what you’re buying. Increasing the understanding of your products will only increase the conversion rate of your site.

5. Writing content for your site? Remember to EAT.

Even if you do have normal content on your site, there are procedures and steps you can take to make sure your written content is as useful as possible. This means applying the EAT model to whatever you write. No, that doesn’t mean working through a packet of chocolate digestives while you write. (Well, maybe partly.) What does it stand for?:

6. Online reviews are more trusted than family and friends

We all trust our family and friends, right? Well, according to Teddy Cowell from Mediacom, when it comes to buying products and services online, maybe not so much. Reviews are more trusted than our nearest and dearest. Not only that, online reviews are more trusted than the brand itself.

7. 67% of weekly online shoppers will read reviews more frequently before buying

Following on from how no one really listens to what their friends and family say, online shoppers are more likely to research and read reviews before they buy. This means making sure your own site has trustworthy reviews to help seal the deal with potential new customers.

8. 61.5% of ecommerce sites don’t ask for a review

This stat brings us to the well-versed point in life where if you don’t ask, you don’t get. With the fear of rejection instilled in all of us, 61.5% of sites don’t even bother asking for reviews from customers. Be the 38.5%. Ask your customers for reviews to help your visitors’ buying journey. After all, there’s a 64% decrease in conversion rate on sites that don’t have any reviews.

9. Forget page one – you want to be on knowledge graph

The main aim of SEO has always been to appear on page one of Google. With the ever-changing world of search, we know that SEO is moving further and further away from keywords and becoming more and more knowledge based. The way to do this is to try and improve your content so your site begins to appear in the ‘knowledge graph’. This is the box on the right-hand side of a Google search results page, which pulls in information about your company from your different online presences. This means we must focus on the questions and queries people are asking instead of trying to rank for one keyword as well as building the presence of your company across the internet.

10. 45% of SEOs have never uploaded a disavow file

Link removal gets rid of links coming into your site that might be hindering your performance. Google penalties like Penguin can really hurt your site. It sounds cute, but the Penguin algorithm looks at these low-quality links – and in some cases spammy ones – that point to your site and could cause a 99% drop in traffic. It should be a regular task to collect, re-crawl and analyse all backlink data you can get your hands on by importing them from tools like Google Search Console and Moz to help avoid being hit by Penguin. Link removal and disavowing links, where we send in a request to Google to ignore certain links pointing to the site, needs to be done regularly. Even though it can be a bit arduous…

So, there you have it! Our top 10 key stats and facts from Brighton that really got us thinking about the future of search and how we can change and adapt to the different tactics and methods being used within the industry today.

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