So here I am sitting on a train from Leeds, on my way back to London after yet another brilliant Think Visibility, and practically in tears at having to miss Drink Visibility. Not to mention significantly more sober than most other attendees right now. Possibly due some kind of bizarre live blogging addiction (yes, WTF) I thought now might be a good time to do a bit of a write up on this weekend’s conference shenanigans before I jet off for some snowboarding fun tomorrow morning.
This is actually my 6-month-versary with State of Search as I wrote my first post, a Love Letter to Think Visibility, at TV4. This time I was returning as a speaker, gulp. True to form, Dom and his merry band of organisers somehow managed to take the attendee-love one step further this time with a host of additions. The pre-party included a giant Scalextrix track. Retro toy fun ftw, and this was just the beginning of the goodies. A little pre-conference bacon buttie & cup of tea? Well I don’t mind if I do. Of course not all of Dom’s surprises were quite as pleasant – seeing my face plastered across three projector screens first thing on a Saturday, with a hangover, was not my ideal gentle wake up exercise.
On to more serious things – my first talk of the day was Paddy Moogan‘s practical and actionable quick site audits looking at link building wins. I was far too slow to catch all of the tips, tricks and tools that Paddy whizzed through but it was a really great start to the day, with a lot of ideas to implement. Others were far more helpful than me so well done to Kieron Hughes for taking on the live blogging challenge – with coverage of Paddy’s talk on the PushOn Blog.
Top Takeaway Tip: Use Qwerly to pull together bio information on a site’s top followers, scrape this into Google docs then use Friend or Follow to decide which are most worth approaching for a link. They’re far more likely to be open to the opportunity, they already follow you on twitter.
Before we’d moved on to session number 2, Stephen Pavlovich‘s Mind Games: Using Brainwashing, Psychology and Cults to Boost Your Conversion Rate, the pick n mix was unveiled. Yes that’s right 11 different varieties of pick n mix all named after a different speaker. Just what you need to keep a hangover at bay when that morning coffee has worn off. Stellar work from the Think Visibility team.
After getting over some wireless hiccups (thank god for 3G tethering) and giving a more general overview on pop psychology, Stephen’s talk flowed straight into looking at audience-submitted sites and what could be done to them to potentially increase conversion rates . He pointed out some really useful yet quite simple things that could pro-actively be implemented on sites, as well as clear reasons why they would potentially impact on conversion.
Top Takeaway Tip: Consider using live chat on sites relating to more complicated purchases – e.g. personalised items. For relatively complex queries it can be brilliant, just make sure there is someone who can actually answer the questions.
A quick lunch break, complete with Play Your SERPs Right gameshow and Dom in a sparkly jacket (yes you read that right), then it was on to the afternoon sessions. First with his talk on Adventures in Outsourcing was Paul Madden, though he’ll always be Idiot to me. What an adventure it was. From clown motels to puppet doing sexy dances and ‘theoretical’ shadier ideas – it had it all. A thoroughly entertaining talk and an eye opener as to the kind of resources easily available to all to bring outsourcing into the work mix – increasing scale and efficiency.
After Paul, I went to see Paul Smith talking about his experience Twitchiking – in a nutshell attempting to get across the world using only travel and accommodation either offered or bought for him by people he met on twitter. A thoroughly entertaining and impressive talk on what sounds like some crazy times. Paul made it all the way to New Zealand via the Netherlands, Germany, Austin, Chicago and LA (not to mention appearing on Good Morning America & getting a book deal). All from the contacts he made on twitter.
Top Takeaway Tip: It’s not one I’m likely to try any time soon but have the balls to do something this big and it can pay off!
Next up was me – looking at KPIs, Data and Communication. More importantly, looking at how to use these and improve these to build better relationships with your peers and your clients in order to improve your efficiency and your ROI. Claire live blogged my session and you can find everything she had to say over at her blog. Thanks to everyone who came and for the kind words and tweets afterwards. I hope there were some practical tips in there you can go forth and implement. You can find the slides over at my personal blog.
Top Takeaway Tip: Think about the partnerships you can look to create between existing clients & peers – they are the easiest link/commercial potential you could have!
The day finished with a site clinic from Dave Naylor, not to mention a quick Charlie Sheen quip – bonus points there! Everything from basics such as fixing 302 redirects to looking at putting together newsletters, considering link landscapes and where best to host a blog was discussed at length.
Finally the big emotional moment, for me and all the attendees. Two things: first, a beautiful thank you video to the SEO community from Negar Durrani. It was so lovely and kind of her to record that, it touched everyone. Secondly the first of the new Jaamit Awards was announced. Complete with logo and trophy, the Think Visibility team hope to make it a truly recognisable and highly regarded ongoing award in the industry – something that lives up to the passion and kindess Jaamit showed. Rhys Wynne won this round’s trophy with his answers on the secret quiz hidden in the ThinkVis site’s robots.txt file. Big congrats to Rhys!
For more information on the day, also take a look at Amrit Gill’s live tweets – the man was a machine.
That’s it from me, signing off a little more sleepy and a lot more proud of the community I work in for its endless support and generosity. Huge congrats to the Think Visibility team for pulling off another fantastic conference. I hear there’s RockBand and charity poker tournaments happening even as I type this…
(Photo thanks to: Sam Crocker & Pete Handley)