Articles Tagged with Conferences

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!

Offline (Face-To-Face) Networking For SEOs: My #maximpact Guest Slot

#maximpact Hangout screenshot
#maximpact Offline Networking logoI’ve been a huge fan of Max Minzer’s #maximpact series of Google+ Hangouts On Air ever since I first discovered and joined in on one back in August last year. Since then, I have become a regular attendee, alongside the likes of the mighty Steve Webb (a.k.a. US Steve), Barrie Moran and Tony Dimmock.

43 episodes and nearly a year later, I was delighted to be asked to be the main speaker on a topic close to my heart: offline, face-to-face networking for SEOs. The Hangout took place this past Thursday (24th July).

During the Hangout we talked about:

  • My networking approach, which is not to sell – just getting to know people, listening to them and answering any questions that they have. “Anti-sales is the best kind of sales.”
  • Going to events on your own. What’s best to do? Try and go where you know someone is going, or bring a friend with you.
  • How networking doesn’t have to be seen as your traditional business networking events. Networking is what you make of it. You can network at social meetups (just so long as you don’t just sell, sell, sell – that’s sleazy). Just give people help and advice.
  • Researching events before you go – e.g. finding out who else is attending.
  • Networking at events where you’re also speaking, especially in terms of keeping calm or not acting too aloof or egotistical!
  • Networking at conferences, of both the SEO and non-SEO variety.
  • Not being one of those networkers who tries to leave a conversation the moment they realise that the person they’re talking to isn’t a potential customer/client – it’s not about selling to the person in front of you, it’s about getting to know them and vice versa. “You have no idea who knows who.”
  • Using social media (especially LinkedIn) for following up and keeping in touch with people after you’ve met them in person.
  • How to handle ‘hecklers’, i.e. people who have a negative impression of SEO when you meet them.

Here’s a link to the event page on Google+, which contains a few comments as well as a video embed, which I’ve also included below:

I also have an interview with Max in the works (similar to some of the interviews I’ve done before), which I hope to publish very soon.

The Business Of Web Design Conference 2014 – An SEO’s Perspective

Yesterday I attended The Business Of Web Design 2014 (#tboWD), which was held on my doorstep in Cardiff. Although I am not a web designer, I could see from the conference’s talk topics that a lot of it would relate heavily to SEO freelancing – and I was right.

The question “how much does a website cost?” is so similar to the question “how much does SEO cost?”, when you’ve not even been told the prospect’s industry, their goals (e.g. whether they want to rank for a really tough keyword or a few less competitive keywords) or even the URL of the site. Determining how to price yourself as a consultant – whether it be on a basis of time or the potential value/ROI offered to the client – is applicable across both industries. And getting a client to say “yes” to things can be just as tricky in SEO as it is in web design.

In addition to eight fantastic talks, there was a panel Q&A at the end, and to my terror (but also delight), the wonderful world of SEO was debated. I spent the first few minutes of my recent unified.diff talk tackling the subject of SEO’s terrible reputation – especially in the eyes of the web design/development community – and have previously blogged about how one of the best compliments I’d ever received was from a highly-respected local developer. Fortunately, while there were some stirrings of the typical “SEO is evil” type talk that we’re so used to seeing, I was really surprised and pleased to discover that the debate was handled really well. I’ll go into more detail below.

(Note: for those where it says “[Slides TBA]” for now, I’ll update the post with the slide deck embeds as-and-when they all become available.)

1) How much does a website cost? – Sean Johnson

[Slides TBA]

Sean Johnson photoSean (@seanuk) kicked things off with the question from prospects that often causes the most chagrin: “how much does a website cost?” Why? Because the answer is always: “it depends!”

What’s your industry? What are your goals with the website? Do you need eCommerce functionality? Does it need a blog? This applies to SEO so, so much: What’s your industry? What are your goals? Is the site brand new? Is the site even live yet? Has SEO work been carried out before, and if so, were spammy tactics involved? How can a web designer or SEO quote effectively without knowing that type of info first? The answer is: not very effectively. Not very.

Click to read more!

A Trick For Stopping Event Hashtag Spam

Have you ever been following the hashtag of an event or conference on Twitter that has become popular – maybe even trended – for it to suddenly become inundated with irrelevant tweets like this?

#BrightonSEO (marked) screenshot

This happened at BrightonSEO and its #BrightonSEO hashtag, which I attended a few weeks ago. According to a few attendees, the event’s hashtag trended, possibly even on a national scale (can anyone confirm?). Eventually, probably as a result of the trending and the hashtag’s popularity, the spam started trickling in, with the hashtag getting hit by spammers now and again throughout the day. At one point, I think there might’ve actually been more spam tweets than normal/genuine tweets. Obviously it was ruining the hashtag, making it harder to read and follow with so much useless noise jumping in and interfering.

The perfect solution

However I noticed a pattern with the tweets and therefore a fix. All of the spam tweets used the same URL shortener: 00ey. It’s certainly not a popular URL shortener – I’d personally never seen it before – and so I realised that there was a way to follow the hashtag without the spam but also without risking missing out on or eliminating anyone else’s tweets, i.e. those of the actual attendees.

Instead of doing a search/column for #BrightonSEO, I tried #BrightonSEO -00ey. The difference can be seen below:

[#BrightonSEO] & [#BrightonSEO -00ey] screenshot(Click to enlarge)

Spam gone, proper tweets kept.

I presented it to the other conference-goers via the hashtag, getting a few mentions of thanks and a couple of RTs for my troubles, which is always nice!

The not-so-perfect solution

Hash symbol imageSometimes you might not get so lucky, and the spammers might use a more common URL shortener. This happened with #OiConf and #smwb2b, which took place more recently. I didn’t attend the events, but I saw people complaining about the spam that the respective hashtags were receiving. Unfortunately, in both cases, the spammers were using instead of 00.ey.

However, it was still possible to do a fix, this time with [#OiConf] and [#smwb2b] respectively, but this obviously would’ve meant that if anyone else used a link then their tweets wouldn’t show up, either. That said, in my experience, most people tweeting at a conference aren’t necessarily always also tweeting links (they might just be tweeting things that the speakers have said), so you might only lose out on <10% of relevant, non-spam tweets.

Again, I presented them to the attendees via the hashtag, receiving thanks and RTs in doing so. You can see the difference between [#OiConf] and [#OiConf] here.

Help your fellow attendees

So the next time you’re at an event and the spam tweets start flooding in, look for a pattern. If they all contain the same URL shortener, including it in the search criteria with a minus in front of it will exclude any tweets containing it.

Try it out, and if it works, be sure to tell the other attendees! They’ll love you for it – seriously!

[# image credit: Tom Magliery]

A Tale of Mind-Blowingly Incredible Customer Service

Artist Residence entrance imageI was in Brighton for two nights (Thursday and Friday) for my second visit to the excellent BrightonSEO conference when I came across possibly the best customer service experience I’ve ever encountered.

I was meant to stay at a Brighton hotel* called the Artist Residence (@artistresidence). However, when I arrived on Thursday evening, we uncovered an error (my mistake, not theirs) and so the booking unfortunately couldn’t be honoured. More worryingly, they were fully-booked (including the room I’d wanted), as were most of the hotels in Brighton that weekend – I know of some people who could only just manage rooms at the Travelodge when booking just a few days before the conference.

* Yes, I’ve given them exact match anchor text. No, they’re not a client. Yes, they most absolutely deserve it!

It could’ve ended there. They could’ve said “sorry, there’s nothing we can do” and sent me on my way. But they didn’t. Chantelle and Megan of the AR told me not to panic, to sit down, relax, have a cup of coffee and that they’d look into local hotel availability for me. They searched for a few minutes and after a few possibilities, they found out that a local rental apartment was available. The apartment’s owner usually charged £100 per night and preferred minimum stays of one week, but he just so happened to have it empty for two nights and was willing to let it for £140 for both nights (instead of a total of £200). I couldn’t believe my luck. I asked how much I owed them for the coffee and they told me not to worry, it was a freebie for me. I also asked them for directions to various places – including the apartment, the conference venue and a pub where some SEOs were meeting – as well as recommendations on where to eat that evening and they were happy to help, providing a tourist map with directions/routes drawn out and destinations marked for me.

This is bearing in mind that they didn’t have to do any of this. What did they benefit from this? I wasn’t even a paying customer! Well, more on that later…

The apartment was lush. It was still central enough to be accessible to the centre of Brighton while just far away enough to escape the noise of many of the pubs and clubs. I said to the two girls that the least I could do was to visit them for breakfast both mornings.

On the Friday morning (before the conference), they asked me what I thought of the apartment, genuinely wondering how I was getting on. I grabbed breakfast from them – they happily obliged with my awkward dietary requests (I recently found out that I might be wheat and yeast intolerant, so no bread for me!) and in fact, although I asked them for something without the toast, I think they gave me an extra egg to make up for it – again, they didn’t have to. Before leaving, I asked them if I could use their bathroom. It seemed as though the didn’t really have customer/public toilets (guests could use the ones in their own rooms, I guess), so they said I could use their private/staff bathroom. Once again, they could’ve said no/sorry and that’d be that.

I then didn’t see them until the next morning, for another breakfast before leaving Brighton to head back home to Cardiff. A colleague of mine had called them on the Friday to pay for the apartment on my behalf, but not the breakfasts. At first, one of the girls said not to worry about paying for the breakfasts. However I insisted – I wasn’t going to put them out. There’s being helpful and generous, but at the end of the day they’re still a business, not a charity. Still, it was very generous of them to offer to waive the two lots of £7.50 simply because they were worried that I thought they’d been paid for when they hadn’t been.

I just couldn’t believe their generosity and their determination to make sure that I was happy and well looked-after, bearing in mind that I wasn’t even a paying customer (except for the breakfasts). They did all of the above – going to such efforts – for virtually nothing. They didn’t say “sorry, you’re on your own” or “you can’t use our bathroom” or “we can’t give you anything extra to replace the toast.” Many other service providers and/or hotels might’ve been like that though.

Earlier in this post, I said that they didn’t benefit from all this. For me, this post serves three purposes. Firstly, to document an example of what I’d consider to be excellent customer service, some of the best I’ve ever known. Secondly, I probably can’t justify a legitimate TripAdvisor review, seeing as I haven’t actually stayed there, so this post counts as a sort of standalone, unofficial review. And therefore thirdly, to also explain what they have gotten from all this:

  • A loyal customer for life – if I ever visit Brighton again (and I’m sure that I will for future BrightonSEO conferences), I know where I’ll be staying, no hesitation.
  • A loyal referrer – if I know anyone who’s visiting Brighton and looking for a hotel, I’ll know which hotel to recommend to them.
  • A direct link with exact match anchor text (within this post), which’ll help with their SEO. If this post becomes popular, they’ll get second-degree links, making it even stronger from an SEO point of view.
  • A number of @mentions via my Twitter profile, including a few tweets mentioning the AR and the #BrightonSEO hashtag within the same tweet, so that conference-goers would see it, too (example).
  • When I do go again, I’ll then be able to leave a review on TripAdvisor afterwards, which I’m sure will no doubt be glowingly positive and another 5-starrer to add to their list of satisfied customers.

Recently, Wil Reynolds said that in order to succeed in SEO, companies need to “do real company shit.” Although he spoke in the context of link building, it’s so easily transferable to any and all areas of a company’s existence – to online marketing, marketing, running a business in general or – in this case – customer service.

This, my friends, in my opinion, was real company shit. A lot of companies can (and should) learn by their example. Make the effort to make your customers smile, even if you go out of your way to do so. You will not regret it. You will be rewarded.