Brighton SEO as a non-SEO expert

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Sam

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As a copywriter with little experience of the SEO world, I didn’t know what to expect when I made the short trip down to Brighton earlier this month. The outcome? I learned some useful tips and tricks to improve content and search rankings (even if the talk on Google Analytics 4 went way over my head!)

Person on a stage giving a presentation to a crowd of people

A trip to the seaside it may have been, but we didn’t spend the whole two days on the beach (despite having to fend off some seagulls that had some serious croissant-envy). There were a range of speakers tackling all sorts of topics, and here are five points which really stood out to me.

Accessibility is a must

If your content is not accessible, a significant amount of people will not be able to engage with your products or services. There are many things you can do to improve accessibility, and platforms will rank your content more favourably. Here’s a quick checklist that I’m aiming to stick to from now on:

  • Include strong text colour contrasts when using multiple colours in designs
  • Use clean fonts and avoid funky text like italics
  • Use emojis sparingly
  • Punctuate your hashtags e.g. #BrightonSEO instead of #brightonseo
  • Keep background noise to a minimum in video
  • Include transcripts for audio content
  • Upload live and scheduled video with closed captions or subtitles

Avoid creating the same boring, self-centred content

Obvious, right? Yet too often content falls into this same pitfall. If you don’t engage with your audience, you can’t expect to know what it is they want to see, and you risk creating an echo chamber. Instead, share your own values and voice, but don’t forget to regularly ask your audience questions.

One thing you should always practise is to reply to every person that engages with your content individually rather than template your responses. This shows that you’re really listening, and it’s something that I’ll be keeping in mind as the Ah Um following grows across our social media.

Brand is everything

Another point where you might say ‘well, I knew that!’. But if the brand is everything, then it must be everywhere. Think of Beyoncé (there were more Beyoncé references throughout the conference than you would’ve guessed). One of the reasons she’s become what she is is due to the fact that she’s involved in films, politics, charities, ecommerce, business and more. Everywhere you might expect to see her or engage with her content, there she is.

The same idea applies to small businesses. A successful omnichannel strategy will turn your website into your brand HQ, which will see more traffic as a result of exposure through different mediums. That’s when technical SEO can add value, producing the speed, fluidity and connectivity that ensures smooth user experiences and better conversion rate optimisation.

Use white space effectively

The designers in the room may have already mastered this art, but white space is a useful and often underutilised tool that can simplify your designs and guide your audiences’ eyes where you want them to go. This talk made me think about how I can apply this concept when I’m writing for design: less is often more.

Influencer marketing might be what you’re missing

If you haven’t considered implementing influencer marketing, now is the time. User-generated content adds an authentic feel to your brand, and reaching out to influencers can result in high-quality, repurpose-worthy content that you can share through multiple channels.

The key to success lies in the metrics. Once you’ve vetted your influencers and started posting their content, keep an eye on your online visibility, domain authority, links and keyword ranking. Tools such as Google Analytics, Semrush and Buzzsumo can give you a useful insight into what’s working and what isn’t. More importantly, influencer marketing can be used to improve your awareness, reach and reputation.

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In housing your content team the Ah Um way

Some businesses use agencies, some freelancers, others their own in-house agencies to get their content done. While they can all be great ways to ensure your creative content is delivered – we reckon we’ve developed a better one.

The great resignation, quiet quitting, skills shortages, in-housing nightmares… all phrases that have become increasingly common when talking about the workplace. There’s no denying that hybrid ways of working have changed the business landscape – and now, more than ever, businesses are looking at ways to optimise how they create content. But what is the best way to get great content?

The traditional options

Agencies

External agencies bring an outside perspective, and the potential to see creative and marketing opportunities that may have otherwise been missed. However, they’re also known for working in pretty rigid models and working in silo to your internal teams with account managers blocking access – missing possibilities for collaboration.

In-house teams

With your delivery team in-house you can realise the benefits of having your content created by a team who are already experts in your company and its culture, as well as having more creative and financial control over outputs. However, sometimes being part of the furniture can mean resource is not put to good use, creativity can get stale and the breadth of experience within the team can be limited.

Freelancers

Using freelance resource can be ideal for plugging some skills gaps, but they don’t come with out their own issues. Freelancers often don’t tend to, or want to, work as a part of a collaborative team, which can make managing wider projects where freelancers are involved more difficult. Plus there are added admin implications such as IR35 compliance and general management of disparate freelancers.

Recruiters

Recruiters can be a good option to help you find the resource you need for a particular project – but that’s kind of all they do. They aren’t content specialists, they focus on individuals rather than teams and don’t manage the people they put in your teams – so if it doesn’t work out you’re back to square one.

The Ah Um option

We’ve taken the best bits of in-house teams, freelancers, external agencies and recruiters and designed a way of creating content that delivers everything you need, in the most flexible, efficient way possible.


How do we do this? We build, embed and run the creative teams you need for your projects directly within your business, for the time you need them. So you can…

  • Get flexibility – onboard and stand down teams on a project-by-project basis, a bit like how an in-house team would work

  • Access top talent – get the benefits of an external agency in terms of having the best, most enthusiastic writers, strategists and creatives making content for you

  • Keep costs on track – our model means you can actually resource your teams efficiently without the overheads of recruiters, full-time staff or using freelancers

  • Realise top-level outputs – embedding a creative team for a particular project means you can achieve the outputs you need without letting other internal projects slip, and without increasing headcount, and long-term costs

  • Mitigate risk – increase the creative capabilities of your existing teams without taking on additional risk or admin – we’ll deal with any personnel absence/changes/issues so you don’t have to

So, you could say we’re like an external agency in structure and experience, but we deliver more like an integrated, in-house team. Our teams take the time to get really involved in your project, understanding the nitty gritty of your product and business, no matter how technical and work with you to get it right, while bringing the fresh eyes and outside perspective needed to make your comms and content strategy fresh, accessible and exciting for your audience.

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What’s it like being a designer for Ah Um? 🎨😛

Take a sneak peek behind the scenes at Ah Um and get to know what Charley, our creative designer, gets up to day-to-day.

A typical day on client work 💪

At Ah Um we focus on understanding our clients before creating their content, so a typical morning for me might include reviewing some brand guidelines and messaging documents. When those don’t exist, I’ll use tools like colour-picking software which help me grab a palette from their existing website!

If we’re working with clients using the embedded team model, we will also join in on the client’s standups and meetings to ensure we’re working efficiently as part of their team.

For video and animation based projects, I’ll make a moodboard containing imagery, fonts, tone of voice and any other information which sets the client apart from its competitors. Once this is done I start the sketching phase. Check out our brainstorming article for the specifics! Then I’ll spend the afternoon working closely with the other project members, and help to create a pitch deck for us to showcase our ideas to the client.

A typical day with no client work 💡

On a day with no client biz I’ll work on designs, videos and animations for our social media channels.

I also make sure to spend time on my personal development, which includes good old chats with the boss about my ambitions, enrolling on courses to help me hone my skills, and watching the BEST youtube tutorials (thank you Ben Marriott).

Courses and development 🔧

One of my goals has been to improve my motion design and animation skills, so I have used my yearly training budget to take part in Ben Marriott’s Master Motion Design course. It was incredible! I’m obsessed with his tutorials and this course was just an entire new level of detail. I learned sooo many useful techniques and workflow tricks that can be applied to every project for a smoother overall process and improved end product. We covered loads of animation styles and took a deep dive into the technical bits of after effects (my favourite thing to nerd out about).

This year I’d love to look into hand-drawn animation courses as liquid motion and morphing would be super cool techniques to integrate into my work.

Work-life balance 🌳

I really enjoy being creative and I spend most of my free time doing things like design, film and music, so having a full time job in the area I enjoy the most makes me really happy. However, when working from home I sometimes use up all my creativity at work and have none left to use on my hobbies, and vice versa! I’ve found that going into the office once or twice a week helps me have that separation between work and life, and even if it’s been a super intense working day, I still feel like I can spend time on my hobbies at home.

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Surviving and thriving: reflections on our first “proper” year as a new agency

As the year comes to a close we’ve found some time to reflect on what we’ve learnt as an agency, and how we’ve grown over the past 12 months. From working with a diverse range of clients on projects of varying scale, to facing new professional and personal challenges, we have faced lots of learning curves and opportunities to grow.

To make sure these important learnings aren’t forgotten in the merry haze of Christmas, we’ve asked the team to share with us what they feel their most important takeaways from this year are.

Adrian — Managing Director

This year has felt like our “first proper year” as a business. We’re settled, both physically in our new office, and mentally with our agency offering and positioning. We’re more comfortable in what we do and are focusing in the areas we’re good at which is ultimately leading to better, more meaningful work. What really has been motivating is to be having exciting conversations everyday around creative innovation and the model we’re bringing to market. Everyone is interested. Not just our clients but everyone is asking questions — partners, press, contemporaries and our wider network of creative talent. It’s not all about the numbers, but performance is good too. We’re pretty happy to have had 116% growth YoY. Ultimately we are still a small, independent company without any funding in a competitive, changing market. Sometimes we can be over ambitious, get distracted or focus in the wrong areas. But with the vision we have, and increased rigour and focus in 2023, I’m pretty excited to see what we can achieve. In the next few years I’m hoping we’ll be defining the way creatives collaborate and work. Watch this space. And yea, we’ll finally put up our website in Jan because the best thing I did this year was take a few days off and let the team sort it out. Needless to say they smashed it. Thanks guys.

Maddie — UX Lead

One thing I’ve learnt this year after moving from a large company to a small agency is the importance of adaptability and flexibility. Smaller agencies tend to have less structure and are more fluid in terms of roles and responsibilities. This was a challenge for me at first, but it’s also been a great opportunity to learn new skills and take on a variety of tasks and projects. I’ve learnt the significance of effective communication and collaboration in a small team, as everyone plays an important role in the success of Ah Um. Overall working here has been a valuable learning experience that has taught me the importance of adaptability and the value of strong communication and collaboration in small teams.

Lorna — Content Lead

The big thing I’ve learned this year is that I love being back in the office! It’s so great to regularly be seeing the team in person, working closely together throughout the day and exploring all the great stuff on our doorstep. Plus we’ve even started having in-person meetings with clients, which makes such a difference.

I’ve also been reminded again and again what a great team we have. Everyone works hard and pulls together, always having fun as they do. And we continue to champion the things that are important to us — mental health, wellness, personal interests and personal development. Here’s to 2023 and great things for Ah Um!

Sam — Copywriter

The fact that we’ve worked across a range of clients from multiple industries (and pitched to others) has been a great experience. It’s been useful to learn from a diverse group of people, particularly about their own challenges, and how we could solve them through content production and strategy.

From a copywriting perspective, I’d say this year has also been beneficial in getting experience writing on a lot of different projects, with different formats/audiences in mind. Writing across social media / email / sales decks / scripts has taught me a lot in how to tailor writing to the medium.

Charley — Creative Designer

This year I’ve learnt that I really enjoy being immersed in the clients’ world and understanding their values completely before getting into the creative work. It really helps my design visions come together and makes the workload feel lighter.

And that’s a wrap…

2022 done, almost! Looking to the new year, we’re excited to continue defining our creative collaboration model and achieving even greater success. Here’s to 2023!

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