So (very) early on Friday morning last week, I set off to go watch Brighton SEO – my first proper SEO conference – and it was free too (hurrah) which is always a nice bonus. From what I have heard, BrightonSEO started off as a small gathering in a local pub – but has turned into what can now only be described as a huge meet-up of industry professionals. So huge in fact that you stand very little chance of networking with everyone there, however much you give it your best shot.
The event takes place in The Brighton Dome – a theatre-type venue and a pretty impressive place by any standards. When we arrived the queue was half way around the building – but luckily it was moving fast and we were sat down in our seats within 30 minutes. The theatre is pretty impressive – and big enough that you’re not fighting for seats. The veiw was really good too – whether you were sat at the front or the back – which is definitely a plus for any kind of conference.
I’m not going to go through each talk individually (because there were a lot of speakers – especially towards the end) – what I will do is go through the main take-away and the speakers I enjoyed the most.
The first Speaker made the biggest impression: Dave Trott
When Dave first took to the stage, he reminded me more of a friendly high-school teacher than a conference speaker and I was curious as to what and how exactly he was going to keep me engaged. Within 5 minutes though I was utterly hooked on his presentation and really enjoyed the way he used an old fashion OHP Projector instead of just a slide deck like everyone else.
Dave talked about the different types of creativity there are – and how to utilise them to your advantage. He basically outlined two different types:
- Pure Creativity: Which is basically pointless but nice to look at / experience (so, paintings, sculptures, poetry)
- Form Creativity: Which is taking the principles of Pure Creativity but using it for somethinguseful and practical.
It’s a Bauhaus concept and originates from the idea that form follows function. As a media student (I did my Degree in Media and Cultural Studies) this was like a flash back to university lectures – and something I really enjoyed.
The main crux of Dave’s talk though was his idea surrounding “Predatory thinking” which basically means, taking a dilemma or problem you can’t solve and turning it into one that you can solve. He used an example of two explorers in the jungle who get spotted by a tiger. One of the explorers stops and gets out some running trainers from his backpack and puts them on…. whilst the other guys looks over confused and says “There’s no way you can out-run a tiger”. The other explorer replies though and says “I don’t need to out-run the tiger, I just need to out-run you”. This is taking a problem you can’t solve (getting spotted by the tiger and outrunning it to survive) and replacing it with one you can solve (I need to outrun my friend, because the tiger only wants to eat one of us).
Dave then went on to discuss the different ways we can apply predatory thinking to advertising techniques and our own campaigns. He talked us thorugh the idea of impact, and the idea of being predatory with our campaigns from the very first moment the idea is born.
I can’t remember the exact statistics that he quoted, but something like 8% of advertisements are remembered in a good way, 8% in a bad way and the rest (the majority) aren’t remembered at all. We don’t want to be in that majority, because if your advertisments aren’t being remembered – then it’s essentially time and money wasted!
He exemplified this by asking the audience what advertising messages anyone could actually recall from yesterday. There were not many hands up. I think the only advert I can recall from the last 48 hours is the Lurpack one – and that’s because I had it on toast this morning. His point was though – that unless people are remembering your advertisements - you’re getting lost in the black hole of boring, dull and mediocre. And that is somewhere you really don’t want to be.
So where are companies falling down?
Dave outlined his views on how companies can start seeing more success with their advertising campaigns – and he thinks it is down to a slight rearrangement in priorities. At the moment there are three stages of an advertisement being communicated to us:
1. Impact – the initial reaction and the initial grab
2. Communication – Explaining the product or service to the consumer
3. Persuasion - Convincing them why you’re the best or why they should use you
Dave explained that at the moment – more emphasis is put on persuasion than Impact. But this is wrong. After all – if you don’t have the initial impact – then you’re consumers aren’t going to stick around to hear about your product anyway – and they certainly won’t be persuaded.
This kind of explains what Dave outlined (he did these diagrams too – so I can’t take credit) and seeing it laid out visually is actually pretty powerful.
There were lots of other takeaways from Dave’s talk – but I’m already word-counting at 900 so I’m going to move onto some of the other speakers.
Antony Mayfield – Do you speak Brand?
Antony discussed the ways offline and online essentially need to start connecting in order to fully feel the rewards of their efforts. He discussed a campaign for the Alpha Course (a Christian Theoretical learning course) who has used the tag-line “still searching?” (as in – for God) in all their print ads but weren’t located for that term or any like it when searched for online.
I’ve always thought there should be more interactive between offline and online advertising – and brands should make a more consise and sustained effort to connect the two. It is often the most forward thinking brands that we see combining efforts – so this is something I’d like to see more of in future conferences and learn more about.
For the full deck of slides, You can click through to Brilliant Noise here where they’ve uploaded their slide deck.
I really enjoyed this talk – it wasn’t as outwardly informative as the others but some of the key-concepts that Stephanie outlined were really great take-aways and certainly food for thought.
Stephanie discussed the different ways that we communicate with our customers and the different ways that we need to change our “voice” in order to improve their user experience. The main point of interest here was when she discussed the difference between emotional and rational responses. For example, each product out there at the moment (every single one) attracts consumers in one of two ways… emotional or rational. You have to figure out which is more common amongst your customer base and appeal to it.
Here are a couple of example I’ve thought of to outline the concept:
- Instagram is an emotional product. It appeals to our want and need to cature memories and to share memories. It’s not a rational decision when you purchase Instagram, you purchase it because you want to have the emotional connection to the photographs.
- A Notebook on the otherhand would most likely be a rational decision. It’s something you need to write notes on. That’s the end of the decision and the end of the decision making process. Maybe you want something with a hard-back, because you don’t have a table to lean on. Rational thinking.
When deciding what category your product falls into, Stephanie suggested making a list of different buzzwords that suit your product, a list of Rational buzzwords, and a list of Emotional buzzwords. Then look at which list is longer. Rational words are likely to be things like; productive, smart, effective, progressive, innovative…. Whereas Emotional words are likely to be things like; funny, fun, imaginative, creative, colourful, sentimental.
Martin Belam – How to make firends and influence Robots
Martin discussed 5 things that should support your SEO efforts, these being:
- Headlines and Page titles and making sure you have that down to a tee.
- Navigation and making sure people can actually find what they’re looking for easily.
- Crazy Antics and whether you’re being too “algorithm focussed”
- Site performance, because people hate websites that are slow
- Placements of social sharing buttons – and how just chanign the placement can double shares
Here’s a nice link – for information on Martin’s talk.
Will Critchlow: API? WTF?
Will was taking over from Tom Anthony at Distilled. The talk was about API and computers talking to computers. I’m not overly techie – but it was good to learn something new here and learn a bit about something I’d previously not known very much about.
The presentation asked the question all of us wonder? What will internet browsing look like in 10/20 years time? Will we even use the internet anymore? Will we still browse webpages in the way we do now? It was all pretty interesting and relevant stuff – and did actually make me think.
Perhaps the most interesting part was the overview of just how much we have changed our habits surrounding the internet. For example, 10 years ago the average internet user was online 40 minutes a day, now however – the figure has been pushed up to 4.5 hours a day. That is a huge leap – and really does beg the question – What are we turning into – and how will our lives be effected? And our work too?
Even more interestingly, is our increased use of mobile technology – and the fact the many of don’t even use our computer browsers any more for regular tasks – but will opt for a simpler, easier mobile version instead.
Anyway, Will outlined the future as a more vivid use of API (think Siri) and questioned whether we’ll embrace this.
Richard Baxter: How to be a better SEO
Richard didn’t talk about anything technical, but instead the traits and habits that make better and more effective SEO’s. The talk was actually a really great change of pace and offered some good advice on how to improve your work performance.
The main take-aways were that of hard work and tenacious effort, with Rich outlining that his main concerns when hiring people were not only their passion for the industry – but also their passion and drive to do well and constantly improve.
On of the biggest things I took away from his talk was the idea of setting goals for yourself. Rich talked about not being able to achieve something if you don’t even know what it is you want to get. I think many of us potter around with a vague idea – but never actually outline something out and dedicate time and effort towards it. By outlining a goal for yourself you are channel that energy into something real and tangeble.
A few other tips from Rich’s talk?
- Take yourself out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself
- Find a specialism and make yourself indespensable
- Don’t just accept the norm, try to push boundaries
I especially like the last one of these tips. I’ve actually found that you can usually achieve anything if you have the confidence to go after it and if you’re not afraid of committing yourself to it. Usually, a simple “ask” will get you further than just pondering about it all day.
There were also a huge amount of lightening talks at the end of the conference too. This was actually a great way to finish as it really picked up the pace and got everyone up and listening. Each speaker had 7 minutes to talk on a topic of their choice and there was a good variety of topics and specialisms being discussed. I won’t discuss these talks in detail (because I’d be here all day) but kudos to all who did these lightening talks – as they really did manage to fit so much information into such little time.
These were the lightening talk topics:
7 things you need to know about Mobile SEO
Aleyda Solis – International SEO Consultant / Founder, Orainti Search Marketing
7 tips and considerations that need to be taken into account to effectively enable and optimize a site for a mobile audience.
Social Media Reverse Engineering
Yousaf Sekander – Head of SEO, Elevatelocal
I will talk about ways of reverse engineering your competitor’s social media strategy, finding their most potent content and taking learnings from it for your own campaigns.
Content Planning in a Post Panda and Penguin World
Simon Penson – MD, Zazzle Media
Content is now a key link building tool and I want to share the knowledge I learned during my time as a magazine editor in how to plan Brand Content to create and retain audiences.
Future proofing SEO on large websites
Berian Reed – Head of Search & Online Partnerships, Auto Trader
In a world full of Panda’s & Penguins, understanding where to focus your efforts is critical. When working on a large scale website there are a number of unique challenges that both agencies & in-house SEO’s face.
This talk details the SEO Strategy put in place for Auto Trader, covers lessons learnt along the way and provides top tips for developing an SEO strategy that will survive the test of time and beyond!
Client Checklist for SEOs
Sion O’Connor – Marketing Director, Vanquis Bank
A straightforward checklist to help you thrill your clients with your work.
The business of SEO and how it can make our world a better place
Jason Woodford – Chief Executive – SiteVisibility
Let’s be honest the SEO industry doesn’t have the best reputation but what can we do help our businesses and make the world a better place at the same time?
Danielle Fudge – Head of SEO, Forward3D
Imagine if you could see the source of all the pins in your industry on one page…what a way to super-charge your link prospecting. Find out how SEO is claiming Pinterest back from social media.
Attributing beyond the last click
Tom Lewis – Head of Professional Services, DC Storm
Attributing beyond the last click
Understanding the true value of generic search terms.
Quickfire Analytics – 7 Custom Reports in 7 Mins
Anna Lewis – Digital Marketing Executive, Koozai
A lot of people don’t have time to spend ages looking at website analytics and campaign results, so Anna was here to speed things up! For those who want to keep an eye on things but don’t have long or don’t think they know enough to dig deep into the results, Anna shared custom reports and dashboards for each major online marketing activity that us BrightonSEOers do.