Over the weekend I made the pilgrimage from Edinburgh to Leeds to attend my first ever Think Visibility SEO conference, hosted by the enigmatic sugar daddy and sweet shop owner, Dom Hodgeson.
Dom kicking off the conference
Think Visibility was the first conference I have been to where everybody seemed to know everyone; it was almost like a high school reunion for internet aficionados. From the second you checked into the hotel it was apparent that the conference was set up with community building in mind. Within 5 minutes of checking in, free beers and scaletrix controllers were put in my hands and conversations about link building, flower shops, penguins and pandas were flying about the ether: I could tell these were my kind of people.
Avoiding the Guest Blogging Smackdown- James Agate
James doing the floating head trick
The first speaker I went to see was SkyRocketSEO founder James Agate. James went over the ways in which link builders can avoid any Google slaps from their guest posting work. My favourite recommendation was to stay away from creating obvious footprints and don’t give into the temptation of posting thin content on any old blog that will take it just to get a link. James advocated taking your time with guest posting, having multiple links within the document to sites other than your clients site and a clean, diverse set of author bios.
Learning from Successes and Failures- Al Carlton
Al demonstrating advanced breast squeezing manouvers
The next speaker I went to see was Al Carlton, owner of a slew of content sites including CoolestGadgets.com, a gadget review site. Al’s delivery of his talk was very funny, with a jovial, no bullshit approach; he had the audience chuckling away at every slide. Al started preaching the wisdom of Matt Cutts: build good stuff and your will rank, as that is exactly what he has done with his sites, with no link building work.
My main takeaway from Al’s talk was “get your arse in gear and do some work” but be smart about how you spend your time. Al preached that your business should be able to run without your daily intervention. A business that needs you at the Helm everyday is just a job that owns you.
We then broke for lunch where I met Ed from Clinic Compare, a cosmetic surgery comparison site. Over lunch I got an education in content marketing and managed to say the words “Boob Job” at least 10 ten times.
Skills to pay the link building Bills- Andy Barr
Andy simulates fellatio.
After Lunch it was on to the next session with PR genius, Andy Barr the Head Yetti at 10 Yettis PR Agency. Andy’s talk detailed research that his agency had carried out with journalists from all over the world, sharing their views on SEO and their professional behaviours. Some surprising revelations came from Andy’s talk: the most used channels to get information to journalists is the traditional press release saying that the wires such as PR Web and NewsWire are not widely used by journalists. Download his slide deck here.
How I made £1 million with SEO- Daz Williams
It was this big!
Next up was Daz Williams, an entrepreneur in the Hair Extensions business. Daz was a real inspirational and motivating speaker that talked about his journey to creating a business that turns over a million pounds in revenue. Daz gave a very passionate talk with a lot of funny moments and one liners thrown in to keep the audience laughing. My favourite story was about him being able to expand his warehouse into a unit previously owned by a scuba diving shop that had “went under”. Daz left us with his main motivation for getting out of bed in the morning- he reads the Forbes Rich List every day, and if he isn’t on it, he gets to work.
Next up was the lovely Irish Wonder with a talk on the impacts of negative SEO. This was the talk that scared me the most as we got some very clean and convincing data sets that shows negative SEO attacks are alive and well and working a charm in different industries. The most interesting scenario was around DMCA take downs of scraped content. One company posted a DMCA notification to a hosting company which resulted in an entire site being taken down and a blank page ranking in Google.
Cutting it Short
Dave gives out free hugs.
Next up was a talk from industry veteran Dave Naylor, on the workings of a successful agency and some history of his SEO agency, Bronco. Unfortunately, the train back to Edinburgh was painfully close to the talk and I had to miss the last presentation. However, looking on Twitter, the talk went down a storm with James Agate tweeting that it was the “most entertaining talk of the day”…….and I missed it. Fuck!
Thank You’s and Shoutouts
A massive thank you to my agency, LBi, for sending me down to Leeds to experience the conference, I am extremely grateful.
Massive thanks to Mark Boyd for pimping me out on Facebook to about 30 of his mates that were attending the conference.
Shout outs to John, Caroline, Caius, Martin, Martin and Mick for putting up with an inebriated version of me at the pre party, especially to John and Martin for helping me to slam the Jager Bombs till the wee small hours.
Father and Son
Lastly, many thanks to the Dom for setting up the event, I had a blast.
John, Martin and I avidly reading the line up
Images by Steven Lilley
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