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Think Visibility – A Love Letter to You

6 September 2010 BY

Dear Think Visibility,

I admit, when I was hauling my sorry carcass to breakfast this morning after having a little too much fun at #drinkvis, I was cursing our love affair and calling you not so flattering names.  Of course, it was all a lie so I am writing to apologise and to tell you and the State of Search community what a wonderful conference you really are.

It was Think Visibility’s fourth outing and my second time heading ‘oop norf’ to partake in the Leeds hospitality, it did not disappoint – Dom ‘The Hodge’ Hodgson and his merry band of associates had ensured it was yet again bigger and better than the last event.

For an intimate (around 200 people) conference, it really does pull out the big guns ensuring consistently high quality speakers and some great fun extras that can’t be beaten.

Your lanyard not only identifies you to others, it allows you to play Top Trumps with fun facts about your name, and includes some pretty nifty Twitter stickers. Goodie bags included a search engine logo colouring-in competition, an SEO wordsearch, a scratchcard to win a variety of prizes and a box of Ann Summers chocolate bunnies (courtesy of Rishi). With bonuses like this before the day has even started, the Think Visibility team’s going the extra mile is already clear.

Despite an unfortunate broken air conditioning situation causing temperatures in the main conference room to soar, the trusty team ran out and bought up Leeds’ entire supply of fans, ensuring the show went on without a hitch.

The day kicked off with a keynote from Mel Carson, Community Manager at Bing, on Earning and Learning in Social Media. Mel highlighted some great examples of how important interaction with your audience and advocacy is, explaining how Microsoft have approached their social media strategy – and the technologies they’ve used – over the last five years.

The Panda Takeaway:

Measure Return On In-Action. It may not be possible to directly attribute ROI to your social media efforts, but what would the cost to your company or brand be if you weren’t in those spaces?

There was so much information being shared and so many things to learn, it’s difficult to sum it up in one poast but here are some very quick takeaways from the talks I attended:

Rob Kerry on International SEO – predominately a Q&A session – was fuelled by common daily issues faced by multiple country targeting.

The Panda Takeaway:

It’s often too expensive and too technically complicated to set up all the ccTLDs for multiple international sites – so place them in a subfolder on your main domain and ensure they are being correctly targeted by setting it in Google Webmaster Tools. If you can buy the domain, 301 or canonical it back to the subfolder.

Lisa Myers on Using Social Media for SEO – huge props to Lisa for presenting in a very hot room, 36 weeks pregnant, without looking even slightly flustered. She summarised some effective and key messages on how to effectively use social media to deliver both traffic and great backlinks.

The Panda Takeaway:

Bad content will always be bad content. It will never get shared or get you links – know your audience and why you are undertaking your campaign before you even think about using social media tools.

Jaamit Durrani on Linkbuilding in Real Life. Jaamit pulled no punches and looked at pro-active link building in detail, immediately delving into tools and methods that are varying shades of grey but which produce results. His slides can be found here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/36889260/Link-Building-in-Real-Life-Think-Visibility-04-09-10

The Panda Takeaway:

Guest blogging – genuine, unique content providing anchor text, in–copy links from well trafficked, decent PR domains. Need you say more?

I also have to mention the interactive Site Clinic seminar that took a look at some previously submitted sites, advising on everything from SEO to user-friendly design, conversion rate optimisation and site monetisation for a number of sites. The panel – featuring Dave Naylor, Michelle Pilcher, Karl Blanks and Kieron Donoghue – really went into depth on every angle of the sites they looked at. Great, actionable advice. More from Dave and Michelle here and here.

Unfortunately I’ve not yet discovered how to panda-clone so I had to miss out on some interesting sounding talks, which received a lot of great feedback on twitter. These included:

Gary Taylor’s introduction to keyword domains and mini-sites – you can see Gary’s slides here: http://www.3ac.co.uk/keyword-domains-and-mini-sites-presentation

Karyn Fleeting’s PR guide to world domination – her slides are here: http://corporateblogger.co.uk/2010/09/05/think-visibility-4-the-prs-guide-to-world-domination/

Well done to Pete Young and Kieron Hughes who live blogged throughout the day– tropical temperature rooms and #drinkvis hangovers could not have made it easy. More posts can be found here on the Holistic Search site and the Push On blog. Pictures of the event can also be seen on Stephen Lilley’s Flickr.

Learning complete, the afterparty kicked off with a charity poker match and the drinks free flowed until the wee hours, with the City Inn Sky Lounge providing an impressive late-night cityscape from high up on the 13th floor.

So here ends my love letter to the #ThinkVis team for constantly bringing together top quality speakers and a great crowd. Now looking forward to Think Visibility 5 in March 2011!

Love

Annabel

All photo credits go to sk8geek‘s flickr

AUTHORED BY:
h

Originally from the UK via France and Malaysia, Annabel Hodges is a digital marketer with long experience in the industry now residing in Sydney. She heads up the Digital Marketing at Next Commerce, working across an array of products, channels and brands.
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