On Friday 9th September over 500 search marketers met at The Corn Exchange in Brighton for BrightonSEO. It was my first time attending this event, and in comparison with some of the pricier conferences, was definitely one of the best.
Kelvin Newman from Site Visibility has been running this free SEO conference since December 2009 where he started it alongside Jaamit Durrani who sadly passed away last year. The conference was a great success thanks to Kelvin, Amelia, all the speakers and the sponsors of the event.
The Corn Exchange is located near to Brighton Pier and was the ideal location for this year’s event. It is an auditorium style conference centre which had tiered seating to enable easy viewing of the screen.
The Speaker Line-up
Kelvin had arranged a great line-up of speakers from different companies within the digital space.
Jonny Stewart Google’s Panda: A Case Study
John McElborough Building a Private Blog Network
Dave Peiris Attracting Links
James Carson Dr Social Love: Or how I learned to Stop worrying about Google Algorithms and Love the People
Erika Ungar Choosing and Implementing Friendly URLs for Ecommerce
Malcolm Coles How to win at SEO with Duplicate Content: Featuring Pippa Middleton’s Arse
Neil Walker Links – SEO Value vs Client Expectations vs Cost
Roger Warner What Can Social Learn from Mad Men?
Toby Barnes James Bond: Architecture Critic
Dom Hodgson My Hack Day Addiction
Sam Crocker How to Pitch SEO
Graeme Benstead-Hume Stormy Weather: The Accuracy of Search Volume Estimation and Forecasting
Dara Fitzgerald Beyond the last click: Finding hidden SEO value with Multi-Channel Funnels
Kane Bartlett Driving SEO with PPC
Rosie Freshwater Market Research: Informing SEO and Link Development
Rae Lovejoy Delight in the Digital World: Why Settle for Customer Satisfaction
Stand Out Presentations
Rather than covering all presentations from the day, there were six that really stood out for me so I have summarised the key takeaways from each below.
Jonny Stewart – Google’s Panda: A Case Study
Opening the conference was Jonny Stewart from Review Centre discussing the Panda update. He explained how it hit their site along with some of the actions that they have taken to try and regain their rankings.
It takes a lot for a brand to get up on stage and admit that their company has been hit badly by an update. Review Centre is concentrating on adding quality content to the site which is always a challenge when a large proportion of the content comes from users.
His presentation was concluded with the following quote “You’re not a good SEO until you have been hit by a penalty.”
Erika Ungar – Choosing and Implementing Friendly URLs for Ecommerce
This was Erikas first time presenting at a conference so I wanted to ensure she was included in my write-up. Although she said she was nervous, she came across great and gave us some good pointers on creating friendly URLs for search on an ecommerce site.
Finally she ended on a fun note by giving away a 20% discount on underwear for all BrightonSEO attendees, a brilliant way of pushing the company brand and enticing more traffic to the site. Within seconds, the code was pushed all over Twitter so a very clever promotional technique.
Malcolm Coles – How to win at SEO with Duplicate Content: Featuring Pippa Middleton’s Arse
The key takeaway from Malcolm’s presentation was that Google doesn’t give a penalty for duplicate content, they filter you.
He spoke about how he had tested this using duplicate content for a short term which drove a significant increase in traffic to his website.
Three of the main pointers he gave the audience for increasing traffic for a short term gain using duplicate content were to:
• Use Google Auto Suggest on a daily basis to look at the suggested terms around a certain topic
• Make use of Google Trends to find target phrases, you don’t have to enter a keyword into Trends just specify your location and find out what is trending
• Depending on the size of your social network, you can occasionally ask for Tweets which should help increase the speed in which your site is crawled
Dom Hodgson – My Hack Day Addiction
A unique presentation from Dom which I think would have enticed a large majority in the room to get involved in Hack Days, which happen throughout the year around the UK.
I am not by any stretch of the imagination any good at coding, but I have now set myself a personal goal to attend one of these events and learn.
The idea behind a Hack Day is getting people together (experienced coders and novice coders) to spend 24 hours coding up with an idea for a website and building it in a team. A couple of years ago there was a team of individuals that quickly became extremely rich after their Hack Day project sold to Skype for $80,000,000
Neil Walker – Links – SEO Value vs Client Expectations vs Cost
Some very interested stats from a number of surveys that Neil carried out were presented in this session. He had asked a large number of individuals in the SEO industry as well as clients about what people actually want from a link.
The key takeaway that I think should be followed was that clients want SEO companies to be transparent with their link building. All agencies should be providing a clear list of links submitted to or generated as part of the work. If an agency has gone after a certain link source that may seem off topic to the client, an explanation should be given to manage the client’s expectations.
For the final five presentations, Kelvin had asked the speakers to do something different and present in a style that I haven’t seen done before. The idea is that you have 20 slides that are automatically changed every 20 seconds so the presenter really needs to get the timing bang on for this to work.
Everyone did brilliantly but my stand out presentation in this section was Sam Crocker from OMD. He gave us all 20 actionable tips on how to pitch for SEO business. My top five takeaways:
1) Get your team involved. Don’t always leave sales pitches to the Sales Team
2) Provide a tiered forecast (pessimistic, independent and optimistic)
3) Praise the in-house SEO team (you want them on your side)
4) Question their data and ask difficult questions from the initial brief to ensure you are confident in being able to achieve results
5) Give something away for free
Fun & Games
At the end of each session, Kelvin introduced some fun into the conference with his chat show style comedy. At one point he even hummed the theme tune to Indiana Jones!
After lunch there was a game called Smash the Pig (although he had forgotten the hammer) which got three members of the audience up on stage. Each person had to pick a pig which contained a sum of money, the largest amount being £100 to spend in the bar afterwards!
The end of conference came round quickly and another member of the audience was picked at random to win the star prize….. A huge remote control car with a number plate displaying ‘SEO’!!!
Following the conference everyone headed over to Horatio’s Bar on the pier for lots of drinks and networking opportunities. The sponsors of BrightonSEO had pulled together to put money behind the bar so for the first hour or so, drinks were on them.
All in all the event was a huge success. Everyone I have spoken to is really looking forward to the next BrightonSEO, which is due to take place in March next year.