Events

3 Events Down – What Cardiff SEO Meet Has Achieved So Far (& Future Plans)

Cardiff SEO Meet May crowd banner
After teasing the idea of running regular Cardiff SEO events this time last year, in March I introduced Cardiff SEO Meet. We had our first event in May, and we’ve run two more since then: one in August and one in November.

A while back in a post on State of Digital, I argued that running events is a good way to get inbound links, which can help on the SEO front. Running the event has been a good way to practice what I preach – and not only has it helped in gaining links, it’s helped in numerous other ways, too.

The benefits of running a local meetup

In this post I wanted to talk about what Cardiff SEO Meet has achieved so far (links or otherwise), and tease potential future plans…

It’s helped me to get links

When I launched the meetup, a couple of local publications covered it:

TD screenshot
In addition to linking to Cardiff SEO Meet’s Meetup group page, they linked to MOM (my freelance site) as well – a nice added bonus, which I wasn’t expecting. Even if they’d only linked to the former, it links to the latter, so I would’ve got some ‘link juice’ anyhow. But a direct link was even better.

At least I wasn’t talking rubbish in my StOD post eh? Hehe.

It’s helped me to meet potential clients

Another pleasant off-shoot of announcing the meetup: someone I knew at my office location (not a part of Welsh ICE, but based in the same building) got in touch saying that they saw me announce it, that they didn’t realise I was an SEO, and that they’d like to have a chat. So simply announcing the event got interest from a potential client. Nothing came of it immediately unfortunately, but we’ve kept in touch, so something could come of it in the future – “never say never,” as they say. They’re a pretty sizeable, £1M+ turnover business, so a nice client if it does come on-board.

It’s resulted in a potential shadowing/secondment opportunity

For a while now I’ve considered hiring staff and growing MOM into a full-on SEO agency. I’d been considering a few options – such as Jobs Growth Wales, GO Wales, etc. – when a low risk, dip-your-toe-in-the-water opportunity came up. One of the attendees of the first few meetups is a junior SEO working in-house for a local company, and he suggested shadowing me. It’s win-win: he learns more SEO tricks of the trade from a more experienced SEO (and takes that back to his employer), while I get a taste of being an employer. It’s still in-the-works but we’re hoping to work something out early next year.

Click to read more!

Fundraising for Climb: My Upcoming Lightning Talk for Charity

JustGiving screenshot
On Thursday 17th November I will be doing a ‘lightning talk’ at Cardiff SEO Meet.

Why? Adrian Harvie – one of my clients (The Abbey Cleaning Service) – has been raising money for Climb via the Children’s Hospital Challenge, when he and a group of other cyclists rode around the UK delivering toys to children’s hospitals last year. During a recent catch-up meeting, I suddenly had an idea: I could raise money via a speaking gig. Yep… There’s a first for everything.

So how does it work? Well, the more money people donate, the harder/funnier/sillier my talk becomes: it becomes shorter, plus other ‘challenges’ get thrown into the mix. It’s already challenging enough, given that it’s a lightning talk (i.e. 20 slides that each auto-rotate every 15 seconds – see Ignite), but why not make it harder eh?

As I type this, I have already hit my target and have raised £200+. But I’d like to raise more…

  • If we hit £250, I’ll include 5 phrases in the talk from this SEO bingo card (ignoring the Brighton/conference-related ones)
  • If we hit £300, instead of 5 phrases chosen by me (see above), 5 SEOs will choose the 5 phrases, and I’ll have to say those instead
  • If we hit £350, I’ll wear my Halloween costume (Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star Lord, from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy) during the talk
  • If we hit £400+… Well, I guess we’ll have to see (and I’ll have to come up with more ideas!)

Because we’ve hit £200, my 5-minute talk is now 3 minutes (i.e. 9 seconds per slide instead of 15), and… I have to wear a Christmas hat during the whole thing. Hey, we’re in November now – it’s ok to talk about (finally). To be honest, I think it’d be funny to try and shoehorn in some random SEO buzzwords, so if we hit £250-300 then I’ll be absolutely delighted.

If you want to contribute then please donate here. Even if it’s just a couple of quid, I – along with Adrian and Climb – would really, really appreciate it.

If you’d like to come to event itself, here’s the link to all the details – we also have two other talks lined up as well as a live site review. Tickets (which are free) become available from 10am this Thursday. If you can’t make it, do not fret: I’ll be live-streaming the talk (via Periscope), so the magic will be viewable from afar and then retained forever… You lucky people you.

Hope to see you there. And once again – please donate!

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UPDATE: You can watch the video here (I start introducing it around 3:40 in and the talk starts properly around 7:40 in) and see the slides here. I’m pleased to say that I raised over £300!

SEO & Civil Law – My brightonSEO Talk

brightonSEO Sep 2016 imageOn Friday I spoke at brightonSEO for the second time. I spoke there 18 months ago back when it was in the Brighton Dome, but this time it was in a brand new venue, right on the seafront: the Brighton Centre.

My talk was basically a Civil Law 101 introduction for freelance and agency SEOs. I’ve worked with dozens of clients since going self-employed as a solo freelancer 3+ years ago, and while the vast, vast majority have been happy, healthy and positive, I unfortunately had one client who refused to pay me, so I had to go through the small claims court procedure. I initially wrote about my experiences for a State of Digital post, but after a chat with Kelvin (brightonSEO’s organiser), we decided that it’d make a good talk as well. It’s a bit of a dodgy, nerve-racking topic (after all, I don’t really want to go around advertising that this ever even happened, as it doesn’t look great!), but also I think that it’s an important topic for self-employed SEOs to learn about and be aware of. The feedback I received afterwards seemed very positive, so that’s good.

Here are the slides:


I believe that there may be a podcast (audio recording) of it as well – I’ll update the post once I have access to it.

[Image credit – Briony Gunson via Twitter (and then run through Prisma)]

A Year of Award Submissions – A Freelancer’s Experience

Award statue imageIn the three years I’ve been running MOM, one of the things I’m proudest of is the fact that I’ve spent very little on marketing. As the majority of enquiries come to me via SEO (fittingly!), social media and word-of-mouth, I don’t spend any money on advertising, except for business cards and Cardiff SEO Meet (which I run and pay for all myself, but put MOM as an event sponsor in return).

The only other exception? Award submissions.

Over the past year I submitted an SEO/content campaign that I created last year to multiple awards organisations. All of them operate a ‘pay-to-enter’ type model, so none of them were free to submit to. This is fine for fancypants agencies who can quite readily and easily splurge, but for a li’l solo consultant like me, it’s a heck of a business expense – especially if it doesn’t end up paying off.

In this post I talk about where I submitted the campaign, how much it all cost, what it amounted to in the end, where I went right/wrong, and whether it’s put me off or encouraged me to do this all again…

Awards of every type…

I was darn proud of CR 25. In the process of putting it all together, I thought to myself “ooo, this could be award-worthy” as it showcased lots of different types and styles of content, ranging from expert roundups and infographics to interactive timelines and multiple-choice quizzes. And we did it all really cheaply, too.

Once the dust settled, I eyed up all the potential awards that were applicable:

  • Canmol Wales Marketing Awards 2015
  • UK Search Awards 2015
  • Recruiter Awards 2016
  • EU Search Awards 2016
  • The Drum Search Awards 2016

There were two others as well (Content Marketing Awards 2015 and The Drum Content Awards 2016), but I eventually decided against them.

As you can see above, the list of organisations was a nice mix of local (Wales-focused), industry-specific for the client (recruitment), and industry-specific for me (SEO).

Click to read more!

Online Influence (Oi) Conference 2016 (#OiConf)

Oi Conference 2016
Yesterday (21st April 2016) I spent the day at Online Influence (Oi) Conference 2016 (@OiConf / #OiConf) in Cardiff, with Oi and Freshwater UK sorting me out with a blogger pass (thanks guys)! While most people call it a social media conference (and social media marketing is a big part of it), it covers a range of digital marketing elements, including video, content and user behaviour. Even SEO got a mention or two. 🙂

I have a confession to make though: I went last year, but had a bad experience. I think it was rotten luck… While the kick-off keynote was fantastic, I went to a few bad talks (speakers arguing, tech problems, sales pitches, etc.), lunch was a disaster (I couldn’t eat what was on offer due to food allergies), and there was of course the infamous #panelgate, when the awesome Miranda Bishop (@Miranda_Bishop) challenged – and subsequently joined(!) – the all-male panel at the end of the day.

This year though? Much, much better. The calibre of talks was high, and I took a lot away from them – I’d say that each talk gave me at least one or two holy-crap-I-didn’t-think-of-that takeaways that are useful to me.

Here are the talks that I went to, along with the main takeaways I took from them:

Leaping out of the feed (or don’t let your content be an octopus)

Simon Low, BuzzFeedSimon Low, BuzzFeed

The opening keynote was from Simon Low of BuzzFeed. Now I’m not a big fan of BuzzFeed, but 6 billion monthly visits?! You can’t argue with that.

Fair play, it was a cracking talk – a great way to start the day. Some standout make-you-think takeaways for me:

  • Traditionally, most content creators pour their heart and soul into creating great content but make little effort to promote it – Simon argued that it’s a 90/10 split. BuzzFeed however spend 50% of their time creating their content and 50% promoting it. They realise that great content doesn’t just get ‘found’, and that you have to put the effort in.
  • They also take the time to translate stories into multiple languages, which helps to spread their reach further.
  • During the Q&A, someone asked about the times when things don’t go well when BuzzFeed work with brands. Simon replied by saying that the more that the brand is courageous (and that they don’t ‘sanetise’ what BuzzFeed are doing), the higher the chance of success.

SxSW ’17: why you need to go and how to validate the cost

Gabby Shaw, ADLIBGabby Shaw, ADLIB Recruitment

I was interested in the Meltwater talk (“Digital influence: 4 steps towards getting it, guiding it and growing it”), which was taking place at the same time, but a little bird told me that all the Track A (main hall) talks were being filmed and uploaded online at a later date, so I decided to be strategic and visit other talks in other rooms. That said, I’ve always had an interest in going to SxSW, as I know a few people who have gone over the years.

Gabby talked about the benefits of going, but also made it clear that it can be a costly affair – not just the ‘hard’ costs (plane ticket, accommodation, etc.) but also the ‘soft’ costs, which people often forget about (time out of the office, less chance to liaise with colleagues and clients, etc.).

Click to read more!