Team Varn was pleased to be attending Brighton SEO this year, one of the biggest search conferences in the world. It was a great opportunity to learn new ways we can do our jobs better, as well as keep up to date on new trends in our industry that we can take forward in our client work.

We were very proud of our MD Tom Vaughton, who took to the main auditorium 1 this year to share a talk on ‘How & why the history of SEO will help us plan for the future of search’. You can see Tom’s slides here.



Tom shared what 24 years of up and downs, success and failures in SEO has taught him about what we need to focus on for the next decade if we want to be successful as agencies and for inhouse SEO. Tom set the scene of why it’s vital to look back at the past to help us plan for the future and shared an insightful quote by Jeff Bezos:

“I very frequently get the question 
‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’
I almost never get the question
‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?

Tom highlighted to the Brighton SEO audience that he has identified 8 principles of effective long term SEO that he believes will not change and we need to be aware of these constants…

  1. The point of search engines was to make information easy to find – that’s still the same today
  2. Over time you WILL make more profit with organic search over paid.
  3. Relevant high quality content still rules.
  4. Always align with Google’s roadmap. Don’t try to trick it – you won’t be able to.
  5. There is no silver bullet.
  6. Never stop learning.
  7. Link building is irrelevant unless you build your brand. Work on building a brand for the long term with your clients.
  8. Understand your competition and ensure you are monitoring them closely as if you don’t stay ahead your competition will win.


Tom also noted six trends that he is keeping an eye on that will impact the world of SEO in the near future…

  1. Predictive SEO analytics. Big data & AI algorithms will be increasingly important and if you don’t have a specialist analytics team then build one.
  2. AI & machine learning. AI will be disruptive but not fatal – it’s about strategy, and how to use it.
  3. Ways of searching are always changing.  Having multiple ways to search means your content needs to be good and in multiple formats.
  4. Local SEO. With the rise of mobile devices and local search queries, local SEO will become increasingly important for businesses with a physical location.
  5. Search engines are becoming more personalised. Quality content and a brand identity will play a vital role to help you stand out in the SERPs.
  6. How Google understands content..Keep an eye on Google evolving it’s understanding and how that impacts how you write content and structure your website


Tom ended by noting that SEO may suffer from imposter syndrome, but actually search is very much here to stay, so always plan for the long term…

“in the early 2000’s people said SEO was a fad, a dark art and wouldn’t last. It seems a lot of the time we still treat it in the same short-term way. Like imposter syndrome it seems that as an industry we subconsciously worry that we may get found out. When in fact search optimisation, in whatever form, is here to stay and people that fake it or don’t plan ahead won’t be around in 10 years. So whether you work in ecommerce, healthcare or B2b be proud of what you do, be confident and plan for the long term. Please go set those big hairy audacious goals.”

Keep on reading to explore some of the key takeaways from a selection of the brilliant talks we heard this year.


Katy Powell – Ideation: Thinking beyond the first idea

During this talk Katy shared tips on how to up your game in Digital PR campaigns and create reactive PR stories. She focused on the idea of thinking bigger and better to grab the spotlight in crowded industries.

Key takeaways:

Graph demonstration.

Andrei Tit – 10 quick wins to improve your rankings (using Ahrefs)

Andrei spoke about 10 low-hanging fruits of SEO use cases that enable you to increase your rankings, via Ahrefs.

Key Takeaway:


Andrew Holland – The new SEO metric that makes SEO 10 x more valuable (and 10 x more effective)

In this talk, Andrew presented a new SEO reporting metric called “Share of Search”. This metric changes the approach and places SEO at the centre of all marketing.

Key Takeaway:


Azahara Corrales – Unlock the power of AI: harness AI to create your winning marketing strategy

Azahara explored the immense potential that AI can have in a winning marketing strategy.

Key Takeaways:


Michel van Luijtelaar – Apple, Bing & Google platforms for multi-location local SEO Optimisation

In this talk, Michel explained the latest local SEO strategies with a focus on the latest developments in ABC and Bing.

Key takeaways:


Ellie Connor – How to measure SEO sustainability

Ellie spoke about how to measure SEO sustainably and why it matters. She covered Google’s commitment to sustainability, and the rising interest of consumers and financial markets in this area and gave actionable insights on how to create a more sustainable website.

Key Takeaways:


Meg Sharma – Level up your content by REALLY knowing your audience

Meg discussed how you can really level up your content strategy by going beyond keyword research tools to find content ideas, and really understand your audience and the topics they are interested in.

Key takeaways:


Aleyda Solis – Embracing AI in SEO: how to 10x your SEO leveraging AI bots

In this talk, Solis explores a variety of practical methods you can use in SEO. This ranged from conducting keyword research and competitor analysis to performing audits and generating reports.

Key Takeaways:


Margaret MacArthur – Designing Viral Content

Margaret explored what content tends to go viral and what content rarely does. She focused primarily on TikTok but also touched on other relevant platforms including the up-and-coming platform Lemon8.

Key takeaways:


Ryan Jones – Mastering mental health in digital marketing’s always-on world

Ryan talked about his personal experiences navigating his mental health while working in digital marketing and he shared the valuable insights that he had learned along the way.

Key Takeaways


Why we attend Brighton SEO 

As the world’s largest search marketing conference, Brighton SEO is a must for our calendars at Varn. Every year the team come back having learnt new things, met inspiring people and are energised to make an even bigger impact in search for our clients.

If you want to learn more about SEO and the different areas and talks covered above, get in touch with a member of the Varn team today.

Redeemer City to City is an international non-profit organisation with a heart for urban renewal – seeking to recruit, train and resource leaders to start new churches and strengthen existing ones.

Studio Floc were invited to create the identity and event collateral for Redeemer’s ‘Hub Weekend’; a high-profile fundraising weekend based in New York City.

Campaign idea
Taking place at the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, the driving idea behind the event’s campaign was one of connection, with delegates travelling from all over the world to join for the weekend. Studio Floc used the idea of connecting people and creating paths to new places as the core concept. This was rolled out across an extensive design suite of event collateral which was used in the lead up and throughout the weekend.

Never ending connection
At the heart of the event’s design concept was a vast illustration, created in-house to capture the breadth and vitality of life in New York City, the home of Redeemer City to City. Subtle details in the cityscape worked to honour other global partner cities. The mural, formed from continuous line drawings, was then, paired with type and colour, used both in sections and as a whole piece across the event assets.

Colour and typography
Supporting the illustration-heavy campaign was a subtle, yet extensive typographic system that was driven by the elegant serif, Chronicle Text (Hoefler & Co). Alongside the typography, a stripped back colour palette of navy and alabaster were used as the foundation for every design.

At the event
As part of the event, Studio Floc recreated the core illustration and hand drew a 17ft x 9ft mural in the atrium of the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, as a visual centrepiece to the event. Other designed collateral at the event included; table numbers, name cards, place cards, menus, bespoke fabric napkins, tote bags, information booklets and cards, signage, wayfinding, video creation and much more.

The Hub Weekend was a great success in raising money for the continuation of Redeemer’s work in cities worldwide. Studio Floc are already working on the event design for the next Hub Weekend in 2024 and look forward to further collaboration with Redeemer City to City in the future.

“Studio Floc are my go-to designers for event collateral. They are creative, sensitive, timely, very fun to work with, and brilliant at bringing my often-incomplete vision to a finished, effective, beautifully designed product. I’ve already recommended them to others and will continue to do so.”

Susan Thorson
Manager, Communications
Redeemer City to City

We are super excited to be bringing MotherBoard events to Bristol!

When: Wednesday 19th July 2023.
What time: 6.30pm – 9pm
Location: Huboo, 41 Corn St, Bristol BS1 1HT
Drinks and pizza provided.


Speakers include:

Rav Bumbra, Founder of Cajigo
Rowena Innocent, SVP Engineering at Ultraleap
Chloe Allan, Technology Manager, Just Eat
David Maher Roberts, Managing Partner of Digital DNA & Founder of TechSpark

Join us for the first Bristol MotherBoard community event! This event will be a networking event, with a panel talk starting 7.30pm.

With 50% of women leaving the industry by the time they are 35, we will be asking the important question “how we can retain more women in tech”.

We will offer practical takeaways including how businesses can support their female talent and drive retention, how businesses can offer an inclusive environment for mums and what we as individuals can do to support our peers and be advocates for all women working in tech.

If you have not been to one of our events before, MotherBoard is a community, event series and charter for everyone who believes we need more support for women working in the tech industry. We encourage everybody to join who is interested in understanding more about how to drive inclusion in the workplace.

Please RSVP to confirm your place.

We’re delighted to share that Unfold have taken on organising the Smart Cookies meetup group, started by the wonderful Nic & Nat Alpi, previously of Cookies HQ.

Smart Cookies is a quarterly meetup group of over 1,000 entrepreneurs, involved in the Bristol creative and digital industries, passionate about design, development and marketing.

We want to continue the events in the same spirit and ethos as our predecessors, promoting collaboration between disciplines so we can devise better solutions for all aspects of the creative process.

Each meetup will feature either individual speakers or an expert panel, where discussion will centre around a set theme related to building and growing digital ventures.

Whether you’re a tech professional, an entrepreneur, freelancer or student, there will be something for you. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people, make connections and join a community of smart cookies.

Come along and be inspired or – if you’d like to share your own experiences – why not contact us about becoming a speaker?

From Amsterdam to London: Olivia’s Incredible Journey to Support Winston’s Wish

BrisTechTonic had the unique opportunity to sponsor the Walk for Winston’s Wish Black Tie Ball in March 2023, an event put on by family members to benefit the wonderful Winston’s Wish organisation.

10 years ago Olivia and Harvey lost their mum, and Russell his wife – Caroline.

For the past ten years in March, Olivia, Harvey, and Russell have planned a yearly walk in support of the organisation called Walk for Winston’s Wish. The family wanted to bring the neighbourhood together to recognise and celebrate Winston’s Wish while also wanting to collect some money for them. Winston’s Wish gave the family vital assistance after their loss.

Who are Winston’s Wish?

A UK-based organisation called Winston’s Wish helps kids who have lost a loved one or are going through a similar situation. The nonprofit organisation was established in 1992 to support grieving children, teenagers, and their families.

Winston’s Wish is aware of how traumatising and challenging it may be for kids to lose a loved one. To assist kids and their families in overcoming their sorrow and accepting their loss, they provide a variety of programmes and support.

Bereavement support is one of the main services provided by Winston’s Wish. The nonprofit organisation has a group of specialised practitioners that work with kids and teenagers to better understand and cope with their sorrow. Individual counselling, group therapy, and family support are a few examples of this.

Winston’s Wish also provides families with practical assistance, such as suggestions on how to talk to kids about death, details on legal and financial issues, and instructions on how to organise a funeral or memorial ceremony.

In addition to these services, Winston’s Wish also undertakes a number of projects and programmes to help encourage good mourning practises and increase awareness of the needs of grieving kids. These include research on the effects of loss on children and young people, community outreach initiatives, and training for professionals who work with children.

Winston’s Wish understands that every child’s experience with sorrow is different, and they cater their support to each child’s and family’s specific needs. The organisation has a kid-centred approach, which means they prioritise putting the needs and desires of the child at the centre of their assistance.

In general, Winston’s Wish is an essential resource for kids and families mourning a loved one. Through the charity’s services and support, families and children can find a way to get through the tough process of grieving and move on with their lives.

2023 – 10 Marathons in 10 days for the 10th Year

To commemorate their fundraising for Winston’s Wish’s tenth anniversary, Olivia, Harvey, and Russell hosted a Black Tie event. Attendees had a great time dancing, seeing entertainment, and raising money at the event, which was a major success.

Olivia and her companion undertook an amazing journey from Amsterdam to London while running 10 marathons in 10 days as a way to mark the event. Their efforts demonstrated that anything is possible with tenacity and endurance and helped generate awareness and money for Winston’s Wish. Some of what they did is visible on their Instagram feed.

The wonderful venue Moor Park Golf Club put on a visually stunning show for the evening, and BrisTechTonic was happy to sponsor the event.

Through Olivia’s efforts, this event raises nearly £15,000, bringing the campaign’s overall fundraising total to £45,000 over a ten-year period.

The Night

A memorable evening was had at the Black Tie Ball. Delicious canapés were provided throughout the evening, and a live band entertained guests with a mix of timeless songs and modern favourites.

Additionally, some of the event’s organisers and Winston’s Wish representatives gave speeches during which they discussed the impact of their organisation and the value of helping kids who are grieving.

However, it wasn’t all serious; there was also a lot of joy, laughter, and dancing. The occasion provided attendees with a chance to mingle, commemorate the fundraising efforts’ tenth anniversary, and express their support for Winston’s Wish.

The legacy Olivia left behind during her 10-day trip from Amsterdam to London was one of the evening’s highlights. Her extraordinary adventure promoted Winston’s Wish, raised money for it, and demonstrated that anything is possible if you work hard and persist. Her trek will live on in the form of inspiration and motivation for others to donate to this vital cause.

The celebration of community, generosity, and the importance of giving back was fantastic.

How can you help?

By using the following link,  you can make a direct donation to Winston’s Wish and assist them in continuing their vital work.

At BrisTechTonic, we value giving back to the community and assisting worthwhile causes. We are honoured to have participated in this unique event and anticipate providing Winston’s Wish with further support in the future.


Launching a startup or innovation project can feel like stepping into the unknown. While there are countless success stories, the fact remains that 20% of UK startups don’t make it through the first year. However, by focusing on 3 key areas — Validation, Design and Funding — you can massively de-risk your project and be well-set for long-term success.

Hosted by Hugo Walker, Head of Marketing at Gravitywell, this interactive webinar will feature insight from:

  • Caroline van den Bergh, Co-founder at Lunos — Supporting businesses from early idea to scale up to get market confidence and demonstrable traction
  • Tom Foster, Head of Commercial at Gravitywell — Providing award-winning Digital Innovation that allows tech startups and scaleups to achieve their goals
  • Sara Palmer, Head of Partnerships at Granted Consultancy — Securing non-dilutive funding for innovative organisations making the world a better place

If you’re an entrepreneur, startup founder, or a later-stage company looking to innovate, this is the event for you. Come ready to listen, learn and get involved in a Q&A!

Sign up here

Each year P+S hosts the South West Design + Digital Student Awards.

The Design Awards were launched by Roger Proctor MBE, Founder and Chairman of Proctor + Stevenson, as part of an ongoing campaign to tackle the way institutions approach design education. Roger wanted to give students the opportunity to stretch their creative talents beyond academia. He recognised the need for hands-on industry experience and commercial briefs. But he also noticed a frustrating lack of creative recognition outside of London, which is why he chose to celebrate talent specifically in the South West of England.

For final-year university students, the SWDDS Awards offer unparalleled opportunities – industry exposure, advice from an expert panel of judges, and valuable creative connections.

Last year Jessica Stiddard, a graphic design student from the University of Gloucestershire, was one of our top 10 finalists with 24 Karat Coffee – a sustainable and ethically sourced coffee branding project.

Jess has gone on to become Junior Creative at Dyson. We sat down with Jess to find out what she’s been up to since the South West Design + Digital Student Awards 2022.

So, how did you find out about the South West Design + Digital Student Awards?

As part of our course, one module included submitting our work to a design award. Our lecturer presented a selection of opportunities to choose from, and she had mentioned the South West Design + Digital Student Awards.

I had also heard about a previous graphic design student from the University of Gloucestershire who had won the SWDDS Awards and the opportunities that followed for her.

What project did you enter, and what category did that fall under?

I entered my third-year brand identity and packaging project for an ethical coffee brand 24 Karat Coffee, which was on a mission to make coffee better. The brief was set by Bulletproof – a design agency in London.

I entered it into the Graphic Design category, and the fact there is no brief meant I was able to enter work I had already completed, which made it a lot easier for me to enter the Design Awards alongside my university deadlines.

Since entering the Design Awards, what have you been up to?

After the awards, I graduated with a First Class Honours and had a one-month apprenticeship with Bristol agency Outlaw, where I worked alongside Emma Proven, winner of the 2019 South West Design + Digital Student Awards.

“…I have now been working at Dyson in Malmesbury for 4 months and I’m loving every minute…”

I then went on to work at Dyson as a Junior Creative. I had been in contact with Chris Roberts, Creative Director at Dyson and judge at the SWDDS Awards, who offered me the role. I have now been working at Dyson in Malmesbury for 4 months and I’m loving every minute.

That’s fantastic! Knowing what you know now, do you have any advice for people thinking about entering the South West Design + Digital Student Awards themselves?

My advice to someone entering the awards would be: just throw yourself into every opportunity you’re given. It can lead to amazing opportunities and achievements! If I hadn’t entered the awards, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It has opened many doors for me, including my internship with Outlaw and my full-time role at Dyson.

“…if I hadn’t entered the awards, I wouldn’t be where I am today…”

What was your overall experience with the Design Awards like?

My experience at the awards was great. I had an interview where I had to present my project and my portfolio to a judging panel, which meant my work was seen by some utterly amazing judges. Even though it could have been a nerve-wracking experience, they made me feel so comfortable.

The ceremony was also great. I got the opportunity to meet other creative students who had entered their work, as well as industry professionals that Proctor + Stevenson had invited. They gave me good advice for my first steps into the creative industry.

The South West Design + Digital Student Awards is back for 2023

Think you could be one of this year’s finalists?

If Jessica’s experience has inspired you to enter, what are you waiting for?

If you’re a third-year university student in the South West of England, get your best projects in Graphic Design, Digital Design and Motion and AR (Augmented Reality) ready.

Whether it is a bold new app, a dynamic branding campaign, or an artistic animation, we want to see it.

Find out more and enter now.

Gardens Illustrated magazine is celebrating its 30th birthday this year, and to mark the occasion, the team are holding a special evening of conversation hosted by Gardens Illustrated editor Stephanie Mahon.

Steph will be joined by landscape gardener Dan Pearson OBE; Claire Ratinon, author, speaker and radio presenter; and garden designer Tom Massey, as they discuss the ways our gardens and gardening have changed over the past three decades, the most pressing issues we face now, and what the future of horticulture may hold.

The event will be taking place on Thursday 23rd March, at 7pm.

Join in person here:
Join online here:

Probably the most inspiring little film night in the world. Join us in Bristol for an evening of learning, stimulation, collaboration, entertainment and general filmmaking joy!

Tabb would like to invite you to join this month’s Filmmakers’ Shindig on Tuesday in Bristol!

Along with being a great place to meet like-minded creatives, We’ll be screening the brilliant short ‘Swiped’ by Luke Collins & hosting guest speaker, Tom Brereton Downs!

This is an exclusive opportunity to:

February’s guest speaker is Screenology‘s Tom Brereton Downs. Tom dares you to take more risks, make more mistakes, do less of what you’re “supposed” to do, and more of what works! All within his purpose-built talk, “Ten Dangerous Ideas for Filmmakers”.

Find out more info and sign up here!

Event: The CMO’s Guide to Customer Acquisition  

Microsoft will join a select panel of senior marketing professionals in Bristol this March to discuss how businesses can best drive more online customers through digital marketing. 

Hosted by South West performance agency Launch, the breakfast event will be held on March 22nd at the Showcase Cinema de Lux in Bristol from 8:30 – 11am.  

The CMO’s Guide to Customer Acquisition will provide a vital opportunity for like-minded marketers and brands to listen and debate with other CMOs about their successes, challenges and their strategies around data, conversion optimisation and paid media.   

Marion Gould, Client Partner Lead at Microsoft, will be speaking on ‘Marketing with purpose: how to create a strong brand in digital marketing.’ Also on the schedule is the managing director of Launch, Jaye Cowle, who will chair a panel debate with senior marketing leaders to open the event, discussing the evolution of performance marketing.  

Jaye Cowle says: “This is set to be a really insightful event for marketers, brands, and business owners. Together with our brilliant guests, and media partner Microsoft, you can learn how brands like yours are getting the most from their performance marketing activity.”  

In addition to Microsoft, there will be panel discussion with Barney Bell, Head of Marketing for David Salisbury; Piers Tincknell from Atomic Smash and Harriet Barter, Account Director at Launch, on ‘Why channel diversification is key to converting and finding new audiences.’ 

Data Strategist, Michael Patten, will discuss the countdown to GA4 in ‘Leverage your data to target new customers.’ In addition, Launch’s Conversion Director Joe Johnston will be joined by Account Manager Josh Marinaro to discuss the customer experience: ‘How incremental website changes can bring big results.’ 

Find out more about the schedule and book a place at this event 

Picture: Marion Gould, Client Partner Lead at Microsoft, will be speaking on Marketing with Purpose.