I’m so glad I made it to the second Brighton SEO conference on Friday organised by Kelvin Newman of Site Visibility. With well over a hundred SEO peeps crammed into a room on the fifth floor of Community Base, with cans of Coke and bottles of water provided and the sound of seagulls cawing and cackling outside, this was no typical conference.
For a start, it was free to attend. That’s right: gratis. There were no handouts, no promotional banners and no suits – just a crowd of enthusiastic people hungry for knowledge and buzzing with the expectation that can only come from knowing you’re in the right place at the right time, at the coalface of an industry so new and changeable it takes your breath away.
There were many of us tweeting during the afternoon, and I was asked by Clive Walker if I would summarise the key takeaways. Glad to. Although this summary is going to be selective and probably not all that brief, nevertheless I’m happy to share what I noted during the eight 15-minute presentations. (Was that really all there was?)
Kevin Gibbons, Director of Search, SEOptimise: 20 WordPress plugins to supercharge your blog
What a great start to the afternoon. There were plenty of plugins here that were new to me and sounded well worth investigating, from SEO Friendly Images (adds tags automatically when you forget to) to a Broken Links Checker, from an A/B Theme Testing Plugin to Yet Another Related Post.
Annabel Hodges – Head of Search & Analytics at …? (between jobs, apparently – about to take up a position with OMD) – When is an SEO campaign not an SEO campaign?
Annabel showed how in an agency setting when you work for the SEO team you’re often called in quite late in the day, and not only that but sometimes what’s required isn’t SEO at all but something more akin to social media.
Her first example was a series of educational microsites for Channel 4 which they needed to promote to teachers rather than just pupils, and the second was a campaign for New Look which resulted in the creation of ‘New Look TV’, a YouTube channel which ended up putting New Look into the SERPS in competition with the fashion media rather than cannabalising its own ecommerce results, thereby reaching a far wider audience.
Mark Cook, Director of Search Marketing, Further – Making Accurate Traffic Predictions
This was the point when I started thinking ‘I may as well give up now’ – the sheer comprehensiveness of the operations he was describing, whereby his agency monitors SERPS on behalf of clients, was awe-inspiring. Let’s just say the live event feed was turned off at this point, in respect for the amount of detail being revealed! Mark’s starting point was that the Google Adwords keyword tool was completely unreliable. His advice was to use Google Insights, not its Traffic Estimator. What then followed I could tell you, but if I understood half of it they’d probably have to kill me.