May 01, 2013 - Comments Off on A trip to the seaside (and #BrightonSEO) with SEO Monkey

A trip to the seaside (and #BrightonSEO) with SEO Monkey

Search conferences are everywhere these days – some good, some not so good.  BrightonSEO is one of the good ones. There has been a ‘hype’ about this conference for the last couple of years and to make it even sweeter, it’s free!

As readers of the Bloom site will know,  SEO Monkey likes a good trip out.  When we told him about BrightonSEO, he was really excited about a trip to the beach – and as monkeys travel free on the trains  we thought we’d take him along for the ride.

Matt Kerridge  (Bloom’s brilliant search manager), SEO Monkey and I began our 5 hour journey down from Leeds on Thursday afternoon, arriving in Brighton for 9pm. By that time, we were ready to catch a few beers. We even managed to find a table tennis table in a pub! Winner.

The next day we arose with slightly sore heads, but still eager to get stuck in at the conference.  After SEO Monkey stocked up on a ton of nutritious bananas (apparently they’re good for hangovers), we were ready to go. We began our day with the normal registration process, picked up our free t-shirt (we love a bit of SEO trend setting) and off we went to mingle with the couple of hundred delegates at the very grand and impressive venue that was Brighton Dome.  From first impressions, we could see that this was a very well organised event which was laid back at the same time – perfect.

SEO Monkey and I went to the strategy session first and saw Tim Grice from Branded3 talk about ‘Why you have to integrate SEO’. This was an interesting talk and a large proportion of it was spent discussing Google penalties – which is the hottest of topics right now, along with the use of the disavow tool. Whilst the session didn’t teach me anything I didn’t already know, it was good to hear none the less.

I also really enjoyed the presentation given by Pete Wailes from SEOGadget – a funny guy (even if he didn’t know it) who offered a refreshing approach to SEO – looking at is as marketing, shock horror!

After a coffee break, the next stop was data. Data is a hot topic for Bloom (what with Leeds Data Thing, Big Data Week and our ever-growing insight and analysis team). It really appealed to me too as the session was very analytics focused. Dara Fitzgerald spoke about ‘next generation Google analytics’ – a talk which delved into the new beta Google Universal analytics which is now open for all to use. He explained the difference between current Google analytics and what the updates mean for tracking users, rather than visitors. For example, if I visited the BBC website on my tablet and then again separately on my laptop I would be tracked as one user, rather than 2 visits. This ties in nicely with multi-channel attribution, allowing us to measure our marking activity much more effectively and attributing the right source to the conversion.

The afternoon carried on with a session on scaling SEO, looking how you can grow your accounts and still provide the best service for all clients. Autotrader shared a great fact – they get over a billion page views a month, huge numbers which they confirmed that Omniture handles, not Google analytics.

Dan Patamore from Argos’ talk was a real eye-opener. He was very clear that when prioritising SEO tasks, he has to put tasks that are going to have a direct impact on conversions and revenue  at the top of the list. He has two SEO Executives and an agency working to drive SEO and PPC, which makes sense with a website so large and a product offering so diverse.  Argos isn’t a company who are  held up as using SEO best practice, so I was eager to ask some questions at the end of Dan’s talk.  I wanted to know where the site’s messy URL structure pitted on Dan’s ‘SEO to do list’ (if you haven’t seen it, here is an example of a simple category page ‘Bags, Travel and Luggage’:

http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Browse/ID72/33008228/c_1/1%7Ccategory_root%7CSports+and+leisure%7C33006346/c_2/2%7Ccat_33006346%7CBags%2C+luggage+and+travel%7C33008228.htm).

Dan confirmed that it was on the list but issues with the CRM and other complexities are the reasons why it hasn’t been rewritten, yet.

The final session was a quick fire round of 5 minute presentations before the conference closed which we all enjoyed. SEO Monkey wants to present next time!

All in all, BrightonSEO was very well organised, with a high calibre of speakers and well worth the trip to the seaside. It was a really insightful day, even if the 5 hour journey back was long!

All presentations are available here if anyone is interested in having a look.