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Our newest team Member Chris went to Brighton SEO, the biannual gathering of digital marketing geeks in the UK, here is his roundup of the SEO event.
Brighton SEO; the biannual gathering of geeks, digitals & tech’s from around the globe and one of the biggest search marketing events anywhere, was, as usual, a veritable cornucopia for anyone interested in blazing a trail through the online jungle.
For me, this BrightonSEO, while being the fourth I’ve attended, was the first where I’ve not been a ‘tourist’. Having joined the team at Falkon Digital the Monday prior to the event, I’ve finally achieved my goal of joining the digital industy after a few years of looking in from the outside, my nose pressed against the proverbial glass.
Brighton SEO Tech Off
I arrived on the Thursday night and made my way over to The Concorde 2, a live music venue just off the beach for the Tech Off ‘Beach Fight’. Brighton SEO’s pre-party is an institution in itself, however, the Tech Off was a new concept for this conference. Billed as ‘The lovechild of TED Talks and WWE Wrestling’, the notion was a simple one – six speakers (plus a ‘Wildcard’) spoke for 5 minutes each on an aspect of tech’, the winner, as voted for by the audience, to be awarded a wrestling style belt, not to mention bragging rights and the adulation of their peers.
Competitors took to the stage one by one and made their respective presentations ‘rock star style’, flanked by a pair of menacing luchadores and introduced by ‘MCDanimal; The Beyoncé of Tech’. The talks, from Allegra Chapman, Kelvin Newman, Kirsty Hulse, Greg Gifford, Stacey MacNaught, Rachel Finch and Dom Hodgeson were fast paced, irreverant, entertaining and informative in equal measure. Ultimately there had to be a winner and Dom took the coveted belt with a superbly delivered and toe tappingly lyrical piece on the theme of “Stupid stuff I’ve bought on the Internet” a performance captured and tweeted by Tom Arenante. I thoroughly enjoyed the new pre-party format and the new venue, however, I knew better than to stay up all night revelling – top tip for Brighton SEO Newbies; there’ll be plenty of time for liquid socials after the conference, so make sure you don’t party too hard the night before!
Brighton SEO conference and Swag
Friday morning saw attendees lining up outside the Brighton Centre their arrival accompanied by cheerful tunes from a musical duo outside, the line moved quickly and efficiently, picking up their lanyards and goody bags swiftly; a testament to the organisational powerhouse behind this gargantuan event.
I’ll confess to being a shameless ‘Swagpie’; swooping in to collect any and all shiny stuff supplied on the sponsor stands. This time, the offerings were overwhelmingly alcoholic. With craft ale, bottled beers and even frozen cocktails on offer, there was a tipple to tempt anyone touring the trade stands, or hankering for a ‘hair of the dog’ to hold off their hangover (see my tip above). Indeed, Deepcrawl had turned an otherwise dull stretch of corridor into an indoor beer garden, complete with astroturf, hanging vines and a bar.
The meat of the conference itself and the main reason for being there in the first place, is to absorb the carefully curated wisdom, distilled from the best and brightest experts who’ve been assembled from all over The World. However, with 8 tracks running simultaneously, all day, it’s impossible to see them all, so it’s important to plan your conference accordingly. You’ll need to decide which you think you’ll get the most out of and take your seat quickly – out of 96 available talks, you’ll get to see a maximum of 13. Each track is split up into four themed sessions typically with three speakers all discussing that theme. There’s a break in between each session to move between tracks, but once you’ve picked a track, you’re encouraged to stick around – moving mid session, especially mid-talk is offputting to the speaker and disruptive to the audience, so don’t do it! I tip my hat to one of my all time favourite speakers, Greg Gifford, for calling out early departers just as he was about to start. Seriously, who leaves before one of Greg’s talks? Bogus!
For anyone who missed a speaker, much of the feed from the main auditorium is already up on YouTube courtesy of Authoritas, links to the conference slides are usually emailed out to attendees after the event and podcasts should be available soon.
Veterans of BrightonSEO know that the conference doesn’t end with the Keynote speech. Following a rather guarded interview with Gary Illyes from Google, beer tokens in hand, there was the opportunity to grab a few final drinks at The Brighton Centre, before moving to the ‘real’ afterparty at Horatio’s Bar, a short walk away at the end of the Pier.
It has to be said that Kelvin and the team at Rough Agenda once again have managed to make the monumental task of arranging such a huge conference look like it was a walk in the park for them. I didn’t see a single thing go wrong, a single tech problem, or a single hiccup of any kind and considering how much there was that could have gone wrong, the fact that none of it did is indisputably impressive. All this achieved so expertly, while at the same time keeping the conference content fresh, interesting and relevant, makes BrightonSEO an absolutely essential event for Search Marketers of all abilities. I have no idea how you manage it guys, but I’m so glad you do!