Who to see at BrightonSEO: April 2018

If you’ve been following my journey with Optimisey you’ll know all about my love for BrightonSEO.

As far as I’m concerned it’s the gold standard of SEO events and I’ve made no qualms about my aims to, one day, have the Optimisey events be even a thousandth as awesome as BrightonSEO.

So it will come as no surprise to you that I’ll be attending the next Brighton event on Friday 27th April.

There are still a few tickets left – albeit none of the free ones – but still a great investment. Or Authoritas are once again providing a BrightonSEO livestream of the main stage – so sign-up for that sharpish.

BrightonSEO – Tips for First-Timers

1. Get there early

There will over 3,000 other eager digital types all keen to learn. You cannot ‘book’ a place in a session so if there is someone or something you really want to see it’s worth getting there early to bag a seat; especially if it’s one of the smaller rooms (e.g. anything not in Auditorium 1 or 2).

If you cannot get a seat (and sitting on the floor has been known, although not recommended for an hour plus!) don’t sulk – check the other rooms too, you may surprise yourself by stumbling on something new.

Or head to the main conference area and talk to the many stall holders. Yes, they’re all there to sell something but they’re usually pretty interesting folk and… see point #3 below.

2. Skip the coffee queues

Something which baffles me each time I go to BrightonSEO is the queues for coffee – and not just because I’m not a coffee drinker myself.

It’s more that there are lots of places to get coffee in the venue but people tend to flock to wherever there’s a queue.

Save yourself some time, explore a bit further than the very front of the venue and find a coffee outlet with a shorter queue… or, often on the first floor the venue’s own concession stands are often entirely untroubled by queues, given seemingly 90% of attendees don’t notice they exist.

3. Grab some swag

As mentioned in #1, there are a lot of sponsors on stands in the main exhibition area. There are also a few more on the upper floors too.

Many of them bring swag, from the usual pens and stickers to t-shirts, teddies, USB sticks and more. Lots often have discount vouchers for their products too, so worth an explore.

A photo of a small tub of icecream and an SEMrush fox teddy
A lovely tub of ice-cream and a cuddly SEMrush fox teddy – amongst the swag I’ve collected at previous BrightonSEO events

The BrightonSEO team also invite lots of awesome local crafty types, from foodie types to some charming ladies who, one year, helped me (and many others!) tie-dye my own BrightonSEO t-shirt. For free.

4. Get on Twitter

Subject to #7 (below) get yourself on Twitter.

The hashtag (#BrightonSEO) goes pretty nuts on the day. Good luck if you can keep up with it but it’s worth the effort. Folk like @GregGifford live-Tweet sessions they attend so you can almost literally be in two places at once.

You can certainly get rapid access to slides if speakers share links to them too.

And all the best swag-hounds will share tips on who’s giving away good stuff and/or when the DeepCrawl bar has free beer etc. All the important stuff.

5. Make new friends

You’ll likely never find yourself in a place full of more people with such similar interests to you. Talk to them.

Lots of people travel from far and wide, not all of them with a gaggle of intimidatingly cool-seeming friends – but even them, talk to them.

Chat about the sessions you want to see; ask where the best swag is; or use the 'Sub-domain or sub-folder?' discussion as an ice-breaker.

However you do it, talk to people. The people are one of the best things about the conference. You’ll meet great people and almost certainly learn something new.

6. Enjoy the pre/post parties

There are lots of pre-parties. Some you need an invite to others you can secure one for yourself (like the fab-looking DeepCrawl party).

They’re a great way to meet new people (or old friends) before the conference.

My only warning would be, listening to some of the mind-mashing technical SEO talks is tricky at the best of times – never-mind with a hangover. Save it for the post-party.

7. Pay for extra data on your phone

There is free wifi. But again, there are also 3,000+ digitally savvy folks in the building who also think their Tweet is the funniest thing ever written.

Be prepared for the wifi to go wonky. It’s free. For many of us your ticket was too, so don’t get too tetchy about it. You could always spring for a ‘Friends’ ticket and access to the VIP wifi.

Or, be prepared to batter your 3G/4G data allowance for the day and use your phone as a hot-spot for your laptop or whatever. And don’t use ‘password123’ as your wifi password, or expect a few nearby SEO-folk to jump on your connection too!

Who to see?

BrightonSEO presents the same problem each time: which of the awesome speakers to see?

The Speakers list reads like a Who’s-Who of search, from the rapid-fire raw power of Greg Gifford, via the brains of Dana DiTomaso; the whip-smart Alexis Sanders… Bastian Grimm, Julia Joyce… even friend of Optimisey Craig Campbell.

Craig Campbell wearing an Optimisey.com t-shirt
Craig Campbell, will be talking about PBNs at BrightonSEO. If you’ve not seen him speak before – he’s great, go watch his talk!

But with so many sessions and so many awesome minds to crawl up inside – you’re going to have to miss some.

Yes, Kelvin Newman and the team do a stellar job with videos, podcasts and quick turn-around shares of the slides for all the talks you might have missed – but it’s a bit like listening to the recording of the live stadium performance of your favourite band.

Sure, it’s OKbetter than nothing… but it’s not the same as being there.

As is often the case at #BrightonSEO, prepare to have your eyelids peeled back, a few pounds of TNT planted in your brain and your mind blown by the brilliance of some of the speakers.

the big decisions

For me, as an in-house digital marketer, SEO consultant and lover of all things search I’m torn between lots of the talks in most of the sessions (thanks a lot Kelvin!).

Session 1: Content or Tech?

The first session (10-11.15am) has Content; Tech SEO; Ecommerce; Machine Learning; Facebook; Agency and International SEO all up against one another.

Personally I can scratch Facebook (in-house others deal with this directly so interested but not unmissable); Agency (I’m not one – yet; and whilst insight into their struggles may be useful again, not key); and Machine Learning (I’m a bit up to my eyeballs with AI, ML and the like… I know I should care more but feeling a bit overload on this topic at the moment).

That leaves Content, Tech, Ecommerce and International.

Looking at the speaker line-up in each – all are pretty strong. Some intriguing new names I’ve not heard speak before.

Plus I always try and attend at least one session that makes my brain hurt (see my BrightonSEO write-up from last year, specifically of Peter Nikolow’s talk).

Peter Nikolow talking about server speed at BriightonSEO in September 2017
A slide from Peter Nikolow’s talk at BrightonSEO in 2017 – that made my brain hurt… in a good way!

The line up for the Tech talks: Tom Pool, Tom ‘Google Bounty‘ Anthony and Emily Mace is pretty hard to resist. So hard to resist, I probably won’t… so you’ll likely find me in Auditorium 2 for the first session.

Session 2: Go Onsite or Go Grey?

This one’s arguably the trickiest of the lot.

From a smorgasbord of: Onsite; Mobile First; Enterprise; Grey; PPC; Experimental; and International Social it’s going to be hard to pick.

Again, some rule themselves out for me: PPC (never really been a forte); and International Social (likewise).

I love an Experiment as much as the next SEO but the mention of “blockchain” in the title of the first talk bumps it way down my list.

The Mobile First talks, with a focus on MFI (Mobile First Indexing) and crawl budgets are sorely tempting…

Enterprise talks from the likes of Bill Sebald sound pretty good too – given my day job is working on a bit of whopping range of large, enterprise-style sites.

And Onsite with Fili Wiese and the rapidly ascending Alexis K Sanders looks pretty terrific too.

Then there’s Craig Campbell in the ‘Grey’ themed talks.

Man, this one is brutal. How to choose? I may have to see how this one goes on the day. Often some of the talks are full – so given I’d be pretty happy to attend any one of four – I don’t really see how I can lose in this one.

Session 3: Links, SERPS, Speed or In-house?

Yup – more tough decisions here: Link Building; SERPs; Influencer Marketing; Site Speed; Paid Search; In-House; or International Search.

Again, mercifully, at least one rules itself out for me: paid search. I probably need to learn more about it – but it’s just not a priority for me.

International Search and Influencers, likewise.

In-House has obvious pull for me – especially Taneth Evans’ session on subscription models, something close to my heart in my day job. But… if I attend the ‘Enterprise’ talk in Session 2, above, maybe that’ll sate my appetite for in-house related things?

The Link Building session has one of my favourite speakers of all time: Greg Gifford... pulling like a bearded magnet on my 'voting with your feet, feet' (although, given I'll be sitting in the sessions, am I voting…

SERPs will see Rob Bucci and Jason Barnard talking about Featured Snippets, voice and other fascinating stuff.

And Speed has big-brains like Bastian Grimm and Nichola Stott.

The choices don’t get easier. I’m between Links and Speed on this one.

Session 4: Keyword Research, Reporting or Reputation?

The last session… surely Kelvin will be taking it easy on us now, having delivered the gut punch of having to pick between all these killer sessions… right?

Of course not.

Pick from: Advanced Keyword Research; Reporting; Reputation; Strategy; Adverts; or Content Production.

No. Not sure I can either.

Adverts are out, again.

Content I usually leave to those with a skill-set better suited to it than me (though James Brockbank’s presence in this one is a draw).

The Strategy session looks interesting – but none of the talks really… talk to me.

Reputation has a strong speaker line-up: Ross Tavendale (speaking at Optimisey in May), Ade Lewis and Julia Logan. Pow!

But Anna Lewis, Stephen Kenwright and Dana DiTomaso talking Reporting are more than a match for that. Whap!

And I luffs me a bit of advanced keyword research.

Hoo-boy. Another tough one to round out the day. At time of writing I’m leaning towards the Reporting session – but I completely reserve the right to change my mind… feel wracked with worry and change it back again… then have a crisis of indecision… and to change it several more times between then and now.

The Key Note session at the end with the inestimable John Mueller and Aleyda Solis (Gary Illyes clearly didn’t say anything (or enough?) to put John off after his visit to Brighton!) is a must see.

Summary

All in all it’s going to be a knowledge-packed day of learning. I’m looking forward to catching up with some old friends but also making new ones.

In classic guerilla advertising style I shall be sporting my Optimisey t-shirt so if you see me do say hello, I like to make new friends too!

Which sessions are your “must attend”? Leave a comment.

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