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Brighton SEO Take-away Part 2: Technical SEO

Brighton SEO Take-away Part 2: Technical SEO

By Jess Stanley

I had the pleasure of heading to sunny Brighton on the 12th April for Brighton SEO. In my short time in Brighton, I absorbed everything that this seaside town had to offer - fish and chips on the beach, Ben’s Cookies and of course a whole heap of the latest SEO knowledge that the community had to offer.

Since this was my first time at Brighton SEO, I wasn’t sure what to expect at first, but it certainly didn’t disappoint. I returned to work inspired from the talks I had listened to and armed with some incredible new knowledge to apply myself, so I thought I would share some of my key takeaways from said talks.

Speed & Performance Optimisation: How to Meet Users’ High Expectations by Rachel Costello

A key thought that I took from this talk is what do we mean by Site Speed and how does this differ by who is talking about it or influenced by it?

Within SEO we strive to optimize site speed to achieve the best result which to many is the fastest site or perhaps just to be quicker than your competitors, but is this the best approach and does it achieve the best results?

Another concept for site speed is the perception of speed, where a user’s perception of site speed is more important than the technical side of site speed. If the time to first paint and time to interaction are relatively quick but the time for the page to fully load is slow, does this really matter as the user will perceive the site to be fast as to them since they can still see and interact with the site. Compare this to a site that loads completely in a faster time but the time to first paint and time to interactive is slow, a user in this situation will have a perceived longer wait and perhaps believe the site is slower.

This concept of perceived site speed is an interesting one and is food for thought as to how we can potentially tackle site speed in future.

How to Trim JS, CSS and External Stuff to Slim Down and Speed up your Site by Chris Simmance

Again, in this talk the perception of speed was mentioned, particularly when reviewing resources on a site regarding render blocking resources or unnecessary files as an example.

Something that was also highlighted was fake minimalism, in that a site from the front end looks as if it has been slimmed down by its styling but in fact, the code behind it all is bloated with render blocking resources and therefore not actually minimalised.

Why am I interested by the idea of fake minimalism? Websites are evolving, and as the use of CSS and JavaScript within them is growing the size of a website increases alongside this. However, with site speed rising in importance, it becomes significantly impacted by a growing site size and growth of CSS and JavaScript.

Understanding that a balance is needed between a nice-looking site and a high performing site is key, and to achieve this it is important to review the resources on your site and aim to slim them down.

My perspective of slimming down your site is that its not simply removing resources but looking at how effectively they have been used. Are there JavaScript files at the top of your code that are blocking the loading of the rest of the site, and are these files necessary for the site to load or could they be moved further down the page? This point highlights the concept of perceived speed for a user. Obviously, when looking to slim down a site you are wanting to improve the overall speed of the site, but I feel that improving the time to first paint and time to interactive are equally if not more important benchmarks.

How to get a 100% on Lighthouse Performance Score by Polly Pospelova

This was an insightful talk that broke down key focus areas within technical SEO in order to achieve 100% on the Lighthouse tool. The key takeaway from this for me was that your Lighthouse score is dynamic and constantly changing, so having a 100% score today does not guarantee it tomorrow, therefore it is important to constantly audit and improve to maintain this score.

Interestingly, in Delete’s work to improve their Lighthouse score, they had to weight up the benefits of a set optimisation compared to its drawbacks. An example of this is using next generation image formats such as WebP, as images in these formats are smaller in size and so help to optimise site speed. However, the drawback with using WebP is that it is a modern image format which not all browsers recognises, meaning users that are on unsupported browsers will encounter issues with the site and results in the user having a poor user experience.

From this, I was left thinking about SEO and UX’s relationship. Are some SEO technical implementations resulting in poor user experience as a by-product? Work closely with UX in future is imperative to avoiding these problems and instead find creative technical solutions to optimise a site without having a detrimental impact on user experience.

Why UX is SEO’s Best Friend by Michelle Wilding & Luke Hay

Staying on the topic of UX and SEO, another talk that I attended was by Michelle and Luke who discussed the relationship between SEO and UX and the role that both elements have in each other’s workflows.

As mentioned, sometimes a technical SEO implementation may have a negative impact on UX, therefore its important to be mindful of the relationship between SEO and UX. Being able to understand what your UX blockers and persuaders are and how that impacts your SEO strategy is key to providing a well-rounded solution.

From each of the talks I attended at Brighton SEO, the key takeaway was to work more collaboratively and in tandem with other disciplines, whether that be with your UX teams, developers or key decision makers in businesses. This is something that has always been integral to how to approach projects at twentysix as an integrated digital marketing agency, and the ability to have seamless communication with our UX team and developers when trying to implement something new is invaluable, helping to strengthen the results and improve your own understanding of those elements.

This is just a small snippet of the information that I gained from Brighton SEO; each of the talks I attended were insightful and from them I gained further knowledge but most importantly a fresh perspective.

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Jess Stanley

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