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  • Writer's picturePetra Kis-Herczegh

Brighton and the SEOs

Can someone even be an SEO if they've never heard of BrightonSEO? Hardly! The next event is on the 6th & 7th of October and the ticket ballot for the chance to attend in person for free opens at 12 PM (BST) from the 8th - 10th of June. I've been fortunate enough to win on the ballot before and I have been attending most of these events since I started my career in SEO.

This is one of the largest and probably most accessible conferences in the industry. It takes place usually twice a year and offers an amazing opportunity to learn, share, and network. I had the chance to be there in person again this Spring after a series of online events and the pre-pandemic world and it's been amazing to come together again as an industry.

In an ever changing industry like this, there are a few key things why BrightonSEO continues to stand out. It sets an example to many other industry conferences with its diverse lineup and accessible content and community with offering free livestream, scholarships and always welcoming first time speakers and providing speaker training and mentoring.

In addition, there’s always a wide range of talks that cover topics from current Content and Tech SEO best practices from beginners and specialists, to Digital PR and state of the industry talks that help us all to stay up to date, learn something new, and do a little bit better in our day to day. But there's more!

There are also talks that speak to us as individuals and their focus goes beyond SEO. These talks help us learn and understand how we can do our job better, by doing a little bit more for ourselves and our community.

Let's start with Friday’s keynote, Kirsty Hulse. The first time I heard Kirsty talk was at the Women in Tech SEO festival in February 2020, just before the world turned upside down. Just as then, on Friday as well, Kirsty’s energy filled the room, and her talk on ‘Compassion, confidence and giving a few less f*cks’ reminded us that confidence does not mean we don’t question or doubt ourselves. This common disbelief happens because ‘We think of things as binary, either-or, when the truth is more often, that they’re “both”’ - she says. Things aren’t just sad or happy, good or bad, or even, win or lose - as we often like to think in business. It's the complexity that makes things so interesting and exciting.

Kirsty Hulse giving a talk at the main stage at brightonSEO. Her slide behind her references her words 'confidence is simply you being a bit more you'

We can be scared and ready at the same time, and we can be anxious and excited. Knowing and hearing that we don't have to be one or the other is an incredibly empowering message. We don't have to stop being anxious in order to apply to speak at a conference, we don't have to stop being scared before we change careers or move to a new country, and we don't have to fully overcome our imposter syndrome before going on stage. Since the Spring conference, I have certainly found myself thinking back and reminding myself of Kirsty's words that ‘Confidence is you, being a bit more you’.

There's something beautiful and empowering about accepting the parts of ourselves that we try to fight and hide so hard sometimes.

To further focus on our mental and physical well-being, the next talk to mention is Chloe Smith’s Menstrual Health in SEO. ‘It’s time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable’ says Chloe as they share their experience and research on menstrual health in the workplace and SEO.

alt="Chloe Smith giving their talk at brightonSEO about the importance of menstrual health in the workplace. Her slide highlights the huge number of symptoms menstruators experience during their periods. These include things like mood swings, brain fog, depression, pain, passing out and more."

Menstruation impacts half of the population, yet 54% of people surveyed by Chloe, feel like they cannot talk about menstruation with their line manager, and 69% of menstruators surveyed have gone to work instead of calling in sick with menstrual health issues. That’s shocking when we consider that these health issues impact both the physical and mental health of a person. As someone who passed out many times, I can speak from personal experience that it can be challenging to get a day's worth of work done when you just hit your head on the tube bars on your commute to the office.

So what can we do? Chloe offers steps and solutions both to improve the workplace and to do our jobs better.

  • Using language such as ‘menstruators’ or ‘people who menstruate’ instead of solely referring to ‘women’ means our language is gender-neutral and inclusive to people who menstruate, regardless of their gender identity.

  • Using language such as ‘period products’, rather than ‘feminine hygiene or ‘sanitary products’ for being inclusive and disassociate the idea of periods being unsanitary or dirty.

  • Educating our workplaces, fostering an open and honest environment, providing free period products in offices, and creating a menstrual leave policy can all help improve the menstrual health of employees.

And if you still wonder; why is this important for SEOs? Above the obvious, that this topic is important for any industry, it's even more crucial within the SEO industry, where men still outnumber women by more than 2 to 1.

In order to help improve the SEO gender gap, we need to make sure to create inclusive workplaces.

And there’s more when it comes to making sure we create an inclusive environment in the workplace and the way how we do our job. Ian HelmsNot just pride month talk couldn't be more relevant as we just entered Pride Month. It highlighted a very significant phenomenon in marketing - that we still see way too often - when Pride is treated as just ‘rainbows and parades’ and ignores the purpose of LGBTQIA2S+ inclusion.

Ian Helms giving a talk at brightonSEO about tips for better LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace and campaigns. His slide lists 10 of his main tips for this.

This community holds around 8% of all disposable income in the US ($1trillion), it’s a big market and has a lot of spending power, which means problems with ‘rainbow washing’ can divert the attention further away from the actual problem and turn LGBTQ+ into a marketing product and/or campaign. Brands that use and make a profit from ‘the rainbow’ need to be genuine about their support, align their values, and give back to the community.

So what can we as SEOs, marketers, colleagues, and managers do to be better? Ian provided his own examples and simple tips to follow to be better at LGBTQ+ inclusion.

Reviewing copy and using ungendered words like ‘partner’ instead of ‘girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend’ in campaigns can make sure your messaging is more inclusive to everyone. Keep in mind the audience you’re talking to and understand where and how to use non-gendered and inclusive language and imagery for your products and campaigns.

Being aware of existing stereotypes to avoid them, continuing to learn from and give back to the LGBTQ+ community and continuing to educate ourselves can help ensure that our engagement is genuine and beyond Pride Month.

The final thought on BrightonSEO is that it’s been incredible to see each other in person again. Having a chat with the speakers, discussions with others who attended the same talks, and reconnecting with friends whom you haven’t seen in person in years is just something online can’t replace, and based on the feedback, we all missed it.

The industry has come a long way, and conversations and events like this connect us and move things forward. I’m already looking forward to October’s event and I hope to see many of you there.


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