As I shared on my previous post, this weekend I went to Think Visibility, a search marketing, usability & affiliate conference in Leeds, United Kingdom. It was my first ever conference (bar a couple of free ones & speakers at events), so I wasn’t sure what to expect. To be honest, I was excited meeting a lot of guys & gals I’ve known for ages online (including Pete, Goosh, Claire, Jaamit, Craig, Richard, Carla & Rob), as well as turning me from a mild manned SEO guy with an odd professional wrestling habit, to an SEO Ninjavikingguru who sleeps on big piles of money.

Ahem.

Think Visibility 2010

Pre Party

I arrived fairly early on the Friday, checking in to the obscenely swanky (by my standards) City Inn Hotel in Leeds City Centre, when I was greeted with messages to meet in the Skybar (the 13th floor bar of the hotel) for a pre pre party party (if that makes sense), was greeted with smiles of various SEO’s and after an Indian meal, and a few drinks (including me shouting “Twat” at the TV with events that were happening at Wembley, an enjoyable networking session was had. We shared tips, tricks & a few stories, often rarely talking about SEO.

Onto the talks now, and I’m desperately trying to keep these brief, as a lot of other people covered them in a lot better detail (more links at the bottom).

The Talks

There were multiple talks spread over two rooms, here’s just a brief overview of said talks.

MelMel Carson (@melcarson) – Learning & Earning Through Social Media

Mel works as Community Manager for Microsoft Advertising, and his talk centred on how Social Media can provide a real return on investment – but only if done correct. He shared examples of eventual ROI of Social Media, which were the following:-

  • Mel shared a twitter picture of a magazine seen in a drugstore in Washington DC, within half an hour the CEO of the drugstore (who monitored brand related keywords on Twitter) contacted him online, and despite having a two minute, whimsical discussion, Mel would now visit said drugstore over the others, because they care about him now. He may not do it immediately (after all, the store was in Washington DC), but for two minutes investment it could convert into a client for life.
  • The second example was a monistary, who wanted to recruit monks online. So with a small adwords campaign targetted at monks, with a low CPM (Cost Per Monks), they were able to cost effectively recruit a new monk, which took them two years.

Both had ROI from their niche.

So in summary, to earn through social media, it’s important to keep costs down – for example Microsoft Advertising’s social media presence is 1 blog, 1 forum & 2 twitter accounts – easily manageabe & more authoritative than a number of other sources.

Another way this keeps costs down is that they now release news on their blog, rather than traditional press releases.

GaryGary Taylor (@garyptaylor) – Keyword Domains & Mini Sites

Something I’ve done more & more with, as well as see incredible results with, is exact match domains dominating search engine rankings. Gary’s talk was how to research them, and what they are & how to have successes with them.

First of all, forget creating a huge site, exact match domain sites need to target at most one or two keywords. They need to be fairly long tail (or rather they usually are, as a lot of the top ones have already been snapped up) or geographical based. They are small websites that are easy to replicate & maintain, with one or two ways of making money (usually CPC, affiliate programmes, or a link directory).

They need to make a minimum £3 per domain per week, as this helps keep them running, and if you have over 100 off them, that’s £300/week. Not bad for no work, is it?

A fascinating talk, Gary gave real insight into how to approach keyword domains & how to make money from them.

Lisa Myers (@lisadmyers) – Social Media for SEOLisa

Lisa’s talk and insight given in her talk was great for bloggers looking to gain links. Links & Social Property are the currency of the web, crucial for ranking highly. Before creating a piece of link bait, you need to find a target age, gender & location – examining what they would search for, as well as sites that they would visit.

She also gave a massive secret about link bait- that it needs to be simple, well marketed & easy to share. Linkbait doesn’t need to be groundbreaking, and in the example she shared was for an advent calendar link bait, with a few inexpensive prizes, that was marketed to the correct audience.

Of course, it’s also worth remembering that linkbait needs to be hosted on your own site, rather than on social networks, as it’ll offer no value to your brand if links are going to Facebook or Youtube.

In result, the client got the following:-

  • 50% more traffic to the site
  • An increased email database
  • Twitter followers jumped 300%
  • And significant exposure

Lisa also talked about Article Marketing to help improve the link count to websites & generating buzz for websites. Content must be relevant to their site, in fact really relevant to the site you’re targetting, so don’t just jump straight in with a blog post – examine discussion & the links of the sites you want to target.

When you have about 10 or so sites, hunt down the appropriate contact and approach them directly. Calling or Skyping somebody can get a lot more done than an easily ignored email, but be direct.

Finally, the best way to get your content out there is by trading content, be it exclusive news, products or discounted products or competition. This also needs to be super relevant.

Jaamit Durrani (@jaamit) – Linkbuilding In Real Life: A Practical Guide to Dominating the SERPSJaamit

Jaamit’s talk was about Linkbuilding, and how to do it effectively. Most bloggers from my experience are actually quite shit hot at this, but there are a lot of things that we can do better. Nonetheless, Jaamit had a few home truths to share:-

  1. Linkbuilding Can Be Daunting – Plan it each month, break it down & do it slowly if need be.
  2. People Choose Between Quantity of Links & Quality Links - Why not use both?
  3. Build internal links as well as home page links.
  4. Anchor Text of the links is your friend.
  5. Content is king is misleading - and you need a network of influencers.
  6. Forget about black or white hat links – you need to test links anyway.

Spam links work because there’s nothing else is better, so if your competitor is using spammy links (with a tool such as Link Diagnosis), don’t immitate, but understand how they work.

The first time of links Jaamit recommended were Low Level Anchor Text Deep Links – these are links of spun articles, with three links on each article, submitted to a number of article directories. Boom, you get domain diversity for your articles.

The second method is Guest Blogging – which as most of you guys know is a great place to get links. To get guest blog post opportunities, you can go to the following:-

  • My Blog Guest
  • Google [your chosen keyword] “guest post” (so if you’re writing about SEO, Google “SEO Guest Posts“) – this will bring up a range of guest blogs in most niches.

Finally, Jaamit shared ways of getting links from .ac.uk (as well as .edu) domains, which involves running competition with schools & colleges. You need to google the following:-

  • inurl:ac.uk [keyword]

Karyn Fleeting (@karynfleeting) – PR’s Guide to World Domination Karyn

Karyn Fleeting’s talk surrounding write great press releases & pushing them to the right people. For a great press release, you need a following:-

  • A great database of contacts including a correct name, what their job is, email address & any associated information, that can be easily copied for each press release.
  • A great first line hook:-
  • Inverted Pyramid Writing, which included the following:-
    • Important information at the very top.
    • Additional information 2nd
    • And the least important information going down.
    • However, each paragraph much have a meaning.
  • Date
  • Contact Details, such as your phone number & your email
  • Stockist information & telephone number (If you’re selling a physical product)
  • Price

Karyn told us a great site for Press Release following the Inverted Pyramid Writing – the Daily Mail site.

Tailor each PR to each to each journalist, and avoid language such as “revolutionary”, “iconic”, “leading” & “unique”.

As somebody who gets shed loads of unsolicited press releases for Retro Garden, I’m in the process of creating a page on that site aimed at what Karyn suggested for a covering email to each press release:-

  • Addressing me by name.
  • Big sell early on.
  • And a high res image.

Again, will let you know when it’s done, and to see what I’ve learnt.

If you have a successful press release picked up, put the logo of the website on your website with a link to the coverage, furthermore it’s a way of saying thank you (plus gives social proof to your readers that you’re more important!).

In Conclusion

I loved this weekend. I always was terrified with conferences, thinking I was sacrificing my weekend for an overly stressful retreat. However, meeting likeminded SEO’s & webgeeks, in such an informal atmosphere, it was great to network, and may have been the best thing I’ve done for my career.

Although I may be saving up to be at Wrestlemania XXVII in or around the next Thinkvisibility, I would love to go to another one. Meeting friends (and yes, I do consider people I meet on Twitter “friends”), learning & having access to some of the finest minds in this industry, as well as drinking copious amounts of alcohol, is well worth going.

Bravo to The Hodge for organising a remarkable conference!

Other Things I’ve Learned

  1. Despite being one of the most popular niche for SEO, an amazing number of SEO’s don’t have a clue of the rules of Texas Hold Em (much to the dismay of myself & Ian Pouncey. How Al Carton kept his cool I’ve no idea).
  2. These people are the most dangerous when it goes to poker.
  3. Goosh is The Geordie Jason Manford, and is an accomplished poker player, despite what anybody says.
  4. Calling for a big 6 in Blackjack usually gives a big 6.
  5. To work in the SEO industry, you need a liver that’s as good as filtrating shit than North West Water’s treatement plant.
  6. If you are to write a blog post on a conference, getting a post out there first & foremost is very good, as people who would rather play Tiger Woods for 6 hours instead of writing a blog post will link to you (may expand this in a blog post soon!).
  7. If you want to get the most retweeted tweet at a conference, swear creatively.
  8. I really need glasses.
  9. Never trust a croupier.
  10. SEO’s bake the best cookies (seriously, who baked them for lunch?!?)

Other Conference Round Ups

Here are some other conference notes & round ups:-

Slides

Transcriptions

Opinion Pieces

Photostreams

Opinions?

Were you there? Do please share your thoughts in the conference!

 

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