Articles Tagged with BrightonSEO

The 3 Biggest Takeaways from Kelvin Newman’s Reddit AMA

Yesterday, the mighty Kelvin Newman (@kelvinnewman) of brightonSEO fame did an Ask Me Anything on Reddit.

Kelvin Newman's AMA on Reddit screenshot
I’m a big fan of Kelvin, not only because he runs an incredible conference and has been crazy enough to let me speak at it (not just once, but twice), but because he’s a great guy as well. And as an SEO event organiser myself, I’m always curious to know the thinking behind brightonSEO, how he runs the event and where he wants to take it in the future.

To be honest, whether you’re an event organiser yourself, or just a big fan of brightonSEO (who isn’t?), it’s probably worth reading the whole AMA from start to finish, as there are tips and insights sprinkled throughout. But if you’re a busy guy/gal then here are my three biggest takeaways:

1) On starting a conference: start small and scale up

Kelvin Newman Prisma imageA few new SEO/digital conferences have sprouted up in the UK in recent months, which is fine, but to aspiring conference organisers, Kelvin’s advice is to start small:

I’d always start with something small and then scale rather than launching big. If gives you a chance to test and learn and make mistakes when not very many people are watching. Think of your first event as an MVP.

I can relate to this, as I’m not sure where to take Cardiff SEO Meet at the moment (an all-dayer event does sound tempting…), but at the very least, it’s good to know that small beginnings are the sensible way to go anyway.

2) On hiring speakers: seek out speakers (not vice versa)

It’s very easy to simply accept the speakers who approach you as an organiser, but Kelvin’s method is different:

Keeping an eye on blog posts people are sharing is a key one but I love scouring through our attendee list and looking for people who might have a good perspective and then stalking them online a bit.

Only giving slots to people who put themselves forward can lead to only attracting certain kinds of speakers.

I like this as it naturally leads to a variety of speakers, and perhaps those who aren’t even ‘natural’ speakers. And there is the risk that the people that approach event organisers offering to speak and doing so all over the shop – not just for your event.

However, if you do approach Kelvin and ask to speak (which – to be fair – is how I got to speak at brightonSEO both times), at least have a talk idea at-the-ready:

In terms of pitching to speak, have a talk idea ready to go. Much easier for me to say yes to a interesting talk title than a vague “I’d like to talk”.

3) On what talks to have: some SEO topics are important, but variety is good

This is an interesting one as I’ve always admired Kelvin for booking non-SEO talks at an SEO event, or at least talks that closely align with SEO (such as UX, etc.). But it’s still really important to have some types of SEO talks:

People expect decent technical talks and link building talks. If we don’t programme those people won’t come back.

However Kelvin argues that some of the non-SEO talks are the ones that stay with people – the problem with SEO talks (as is the case with some elements of SEO) is that there’s a ‘here-today-gone-tomorrow’ feeling about them:

Talks from people like Dave [Trott] and Rory [Sutherland] are the kind that sit in the back of your mind for years to come, whereas the learning about the latest SERP feature you’ll use immediately but it’s value will go down over time.

Our job is to get the right mixture between the practical talks and the inspirational/theoretical ones. Which is something I know we and other events have been criticised for in the past.

Kelvin’s clearly not backing down with this way of thinking, given what’s coming up at next month’s event:

Got three different academics talking this time round about machine learning that might not be mass appeal but pretty sure will get a great receptions.


Read Kelvin’s AMA in full here!

If you’re going to brightonSEO April 2017 then let me know – I’ll be there. 🙂

[Image credit – my own creation using Prisma]

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)]

25 Posts in One Month: Co-ordinating a ‘Content Blitz’ Campaign on the Cheap – My BrightonSEO Talk

Speaking at BrightonSEOHaving previously been to BrightonSEO 4, 5, maybe 6 times (I’ve genuinely lost count), it was an absolute pleasure and honour to be given the opportunity to speak about my recent CR 25 campaign, as part of the Content Strategy segment.

From the BrightonSEO website (which I’m copying-and-pasting as well, just in case it gets removed from the site at some point):

In January 2015, I helped my parents’ IT recruitment agency to launch a ‘content blitz’ campaign, posting 25 posts in one month to mark the company’s 25th anniversary.

6 months in the making, we created and co-ordinated a plethora of content types beyond the usual bog-standard blog post, including guest posts, crowdsourced posts, a timeline, a list of local events, a list of local co-working spaces… and even a quiz.

Utilising free/cheap resources and WordPress plugins as much as possible to keep the budget nice and low, the campaign was intended to boost their site’s SEO as well as the company’s branding awareness, PR, social media followings and ultimately help them to earn new clients and candidates.

Here are the slides:

Someone let me know that the talk was Periscoped (is that a verb yet?) as well – here’s a screenshot. Really exciting!

As I said towards the end of the talk / on the penultimate slide, I’m hoping to do a full write-up of the campaign – its good, bad and ugly moments – which would cover everything from the talk and more stuff that I would have liked to have covered if I had more time. I’ll most likely submit it as a YouMoz post – keep an eye out for it over the coming weeks/months.

I’d also like to say a big thank you not only to @kelvinnewman (BrightonSEO’s organiser) for allowing me to speak, but also to @MUmar_Khan, @krystianszastok, @ichbinGisele and @Tony_DWM for taking the time to give me feedback on an early draft of my slide deck. Tony especially was incredible, giving thoughts and feedback on every single individual slide. Top bloke.

[Main speaking image credit – @octink (from Twitter)]

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 bit.ly instead of 00.ey.

However, it was still possible to do a fix, this time with [#OiConf -bit.ly] and [#smwb2b -bit.ly] respectively, but this obviously would’ve meant that if anyone else used a bit.ly 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 -bit.ly] 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.