Monday, 4 April 2011

BrightonSEO April 2011

On Friday 1st April most of Brighton's finest SEO types, quite a few of London's finest SEO types and even one of Leeds' finest SEO types, gathered at the Sallis Benney theatre owned by the University of Brighton.  This was a big step up from BrightonSEO mark 1 - in a pub, and BrightonSEO mark 2 - in a room in a community centre.  This time the event had tickets and this time those tickets were all snapped up on the morning they were released.

So for those of you who didn't manage to get a ticket, or for those of you who drank too many glasses of wine at lunchtime and can't remember, what were the key learns?

Blimey search engine optimisation types are passionate

If you were new to SEO then the panel debate: is SEO doomed, which kicked off the conference, might have seen you making a sudden career change decision.  Most panel debates at conferences are polite and often pretty insipid affairs, with no one wanting to offend anyone else.  This BrightonSEO panel debate was so heated it crossed into aggressive a couple of times. 

I couldn't decide whether to be impressed with the passion in the room, or depressed that we weren't debating something more significant: the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown; the war in Libya; or the fighting in the Ivory Coast perhaps?

Is this passion unique to search engine optimisation?  Would I have seen such heart and heat if we'd had a similar debate during my time working in radio; could I imagine my colleagues now having such a passionate exchange about the future of news?  Yes, I suppose I can imagine debates like that taking place.  I guess BrightonSEO has given people a forum for these kind of heated exchanges, which otherwise wouldn't have existed.  Or perhaps these debates have and do existed, they're just usually had in a pub and not in a lecture theatre in front of so many people.

The desire for more honesty and greater transparency in SEO

The SEO industry was compared on more than one occasion to the banking sector and this is a reflection of a desire by the majority of people at BrightonSEO to disassociate themselves with blackhat SEO and SEO Snake Oil.  I also noticed a fair few speakers talking about making an educated guess and stressing that no one, except a select few at Google, knows exactly what makes one webpage rank higher than another in the SERPs.  I think this desire for more transparency is good news, now begins the tough job of educating clients!

There is no magic spell or secret trick

Following on from the point above about greater honesty and transparency, one of the key learns from BrightonSEO, is that being a search engine optimisation practitioner isn't about learning special secrets or tricks.  This is key for someone like me, who partners with a lot of digital marketing agencies, but can't claim (and doesn't want to claim) to be an expert.  Sometimes I think we're all guilty of worrying that while we're busy working hard, everyone else has discovered a short cut.  The truth from BrightonSEO is there is no short cut.

BrightonSEO rocks

Finally, I learnt that BrightonSEO might just be the best free SEO event in the UK and it's in contention for best SEO event in the UK full stop.  What makes it so special?  All the reasons above: passion, honesty, transparency and no tricks.  

BrightonSEO rocks... but don't tell everyone... I might not get a ticket next time... or they might make us pay!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Social media marketing - as recommended by Google

I may be coming to this a bit late, but hey I figure if I missed it, then others might have too.  At Brighton SEO on Friday one of the speakers recommended watching the video below from Google Webmaster.  In it Matt Cutts from Google answers the question: "If you were an SEO of a large company, what would you include in your 2011 strategy?"

Matt mentions three key things (because Google likes lists!?): 
  1. Optimising for speed
  2. Education for senior internal stakeholders about the benefits for SEO and internal linking
  3. Social media marketing. 
So there you have it... point number 3 in a short list of what to focus on in 2011... and Google recommends social media marketing.  So next time you speak to client or someone internally who doesn't see the benefit or the need to get involved in social media, you can tell them that Google recommends it.