On Friday 30th March I attended my first ever LinkLove conference at The Congress Centre in London. As a newcomer to the SEO community I was pleasantly surprised by the huge variety of topics covered and the number of attendees for networking.
I, by my own admission, am not an SEO expert, due in part to being pretty new to the whole industry. So I didn’t hold high hopes for being able to understand much that was going on around me for the day at LinkLove; I was, however, determined to try and store as much of the information as I could.
First up was Rand Fishkin, a guy who seemed to equate to the SEO community’s version of royalty. The founder of the famous SEOmoz gave a pretty interesting talk (from what I understood anyway). He seemed to be saying that you can do all the dedicated link building that you want – in fact you could spend days, weeks or months on it – but nothing can compete with the links that quality content gives you. As he writes in the conference’s info pack “content can earn links in any niche”, sound advice it would seem. So one speaker down and I’m feeling pretty good, maybe I’m not as SEO illiterate as I thought.
On for act two was Mike King, I was looking forward to this guy – apparently at the last conference he did, he had entertained the audience with a rap – this I had to see. Unfortunately, I was to be disappointed on the rapping front, although Mike did turn out to be one of the most energetic speakers I’ve seen at any conference I’ve ever been too. His talk was on the power of effective outreach, he used a programme to break down all manner of statistics on outreach in order to reveal what the optimum time of outreach was and how to address the email etc. Once again at the end I felt like I was keeping up with the majority of what was said, although I have to admit to abandoning my attempts to take notes at this point because I was found that listening and writing anything legible at the same time was near impossible.
So far so good, this SEO lark isn’t so complicated. Ha, I definitely spoke to soon; the next speaker Branko Rihtman is referred to as a scientist in the welcome pack, and science was never my forte in school. Which is a shame because I think the information that was being relayed was probably pretty useful. The applause that he received at the end confirmed my gut feeling that I was probably in a minority of people who hadn’t understood much of what he said, as his response was so positive. Oh well, maybe next time I hear him speak I will be more SEO literate and therefore able to get a bit more out of his talk.Next up was Jane Copland, she spoke about the need to try and get that handful of ‘golden links’ in addition to the bog standard links. Jane argued that one good link will do more for your business or client than loads of rubbish ones. There was something in her introduction that slightly baffled me, that was how she went from being New Zealand’s national 200m breaststroke champion to giving talks at an SEO conference. Seems a very unconventional route into the world of SEO but I digress. Her talk was insightful and involved some pretty cool zombie experience day video.Wil Reynolds’ talk went in a direction I was not expecting. In order to promote the values of creating a solid relationship with your customer he used the example of social network stalking. He pointed out that you should get to know what your customers wants and needs in a lot more depth by looking at their various social network profiles. Once you have done this it is possible to really direct your campaign to them instead of at them. Wil suggested that you provide them with a service; such as answering any queries they have or offering helpful tips etc. These will stand you in good stead if they need your services in the future. I was back on form now, I was not only keeping up with Wil but I was also understanding what he said; saying that what he was saying sounded a lot like common sense to me, but that’s why I’m not an SEO expert I guess.The sixth person to step up to the plate was Tom Anthony, his chosen subject was ‘building links with products and developers’ – I heard an awful lot about link building that day (then again it is called LinkLove). This was another talk that I felt a little out of my depth with; there were a lot of terms and phrases that were new to me and the subject matter was quite advanced. Once again though, I can gauge from the audience’s reaction that his speech was clearly of merit and maybe in a year or so it will make perfect sense (that’s the dream anyway) to me.
The guy who ended the LinkLove conference just happened to be one of the co-founders of Distilled, Will Critchlow, his talk was twinned with one made by his brother in Boston. He spoke about being completely honest with yourself and your company about your limitations, he showed us a kind of self-survey that he uses at Distilled for staff to rate their abilities at various things. He points out that on a scale of 1 to 5 the majority of people always give themselves a 4; however, if you don’t define your stages so rigidly people are more likely to be honest because they are fitting into a larger scale. He also promoted experimenting, though it could be risky, he says if you negate as much of the risk as possible by building or using the smallest amount of time/money in order to carry out the experiment then the benefits of the experiment will outweigh the risks. It was another very good talk and rounded off the day nicely.
All in all the day was pretty good; I found out that I know a little more about SEO than I thought I did, when I sat down at 9 o’clock. On top of that small victory, I learnt about masses of programmes that I can use to increase my effectiveness. I’ve also picked up loads of tips and tricks of the trade from people who are obviously very well respected in their profession. I think this conference really made me aware of how big the SEO community actually is and also how even more crucial it is going to become in the coming years. I’m looking forward to building my knowledge – and hopefully next time I visit a conference similar to this I’ll be able to keep up with the more technical topics too. Watch this space, hey?