BrightonSEO’s Evolution, Community and some Karaoke Fun!

The First BrightonSEO

BrightonSEO has changed a lot since my first trip down to Brighton in December 2009 (I think) to go for a drink with some fellow SEOs. This was my first trip out into the wild that is the SEO community and I haven’t looked back since. That first night I got to meet some industry type folks that I still speak to today, such as Anna Lewis, Any Keetch & Kelvin Newman, although its still with some sadness that I remember it was Jaamit that persuaded me to actually get my arse in gear to go and visit it. Still missed mate, still missed.

Edit: Having been discussing this on Twitter, I wanted to shout out to Fresh Egg and Tim Aldiss as well for their efforts with this as well – BrightonSEO wouldn’t be what it is today without their efforts.

The First BrightonSEO Mini-Conference (but 2nd BrightonSEO)

This was the first conference of any description that I’d ever been too, and with a few short days warning and not a great amount of prep I was actually talking at it too!

I don’t think anyone really knew what to expect from it all really – it was upstairs in a pub called the Quadrant, which in many ways still feels like its spiritual home, although sadly the conference itself appears to have massively outgrown that venue now. It felt like I was talking in front of quite a large crowd, and it certainly got bigger as the day went on, although I suspect I spoke in front of far fewer people than I thought at the time!

Peter Handley presenting at BrightonSEO

(Thanks to Silicon Beach Training for getting me this picture)

I did quite a big write up of this at the time, and whilst I quite enjoyed speaking, I think I would do a better job with it now that I’ve seen a wide range of speakers on a wide range of topics. I’ve certainly learnt a lot more about SEO in the following years.

A mercifully brief section of my presentation is on YouTube if you are interested.

Growth of the Conference

Over the following couple of years, the popularity of BrightonSEO exploded.

I first met my now business partner Nichola Stott at the next one where she was talking, and met a wide range of hugely interesting folks within the industry over the course of them as a whole.

From the top of my head, I think the next event was about 150-200 people in a large room upstairs in a community centre, growing to 400 odd at a university building with the next, through to filling the corn exchange at the one before last.

BrightonSEO Audience at the Corn Exchange

I think this was around about 500 booked in, although there were some inevitable no-shows (and I could be totally wrong with these numbers).

A recurring theme for me at all of these events is the amount of people that I’ve met for the first time that already feel like they’ve been friends for years. Social media does a really good job of the introductions, and so many people I’ve gone on to meet, its just felt so easy and natural. In many cases we actually have been talking for years by that point, so perhaps that’s natural!

What has evolved at the BrightonSEO’s is a real sense of community as its continued to grow. Every time there are some familiar faces to catch up with (many that I’ve only ever actually seen at these events), and as each year goes on, its grown further. I really hope that this can continue as it continues to evolve in the future.

Spring 2012 BrightonSEO – Fun, Games & Karaoke

This one was the biggest one yet, with over 1000 people at the sold out in minutes event.

I won’t do a write up of the content as such of this event, as this has been covered in great depth in some awesome posts elsewhere, including these:

And below are most of the slides etc:

Instead, I’ll look at some of the fun things that went on that day that I got involved with.

First of all, I raised my hand to get involved with an on-stage competition:

Me staring down the barrel of the Nerf Gun

This involved being the first one to hit the target with an awesome nerf gun rifle. Fortunately my opponent didn’t quite manage to hit the target with their first three efforts, and I lined up the shot, had a loosener with the first, shooting just over, and hit the target smack bang in the middle with shot number 2.

BOOM – I was in the final, much later in the day (just before the day at the Dome finished up)

Whilst Kelvin was getting this setup we had to keep the crowd warmed up. For my bit I talked up the later Karaoke on the pier, and was nearly convinced by the crowd to break in to song A cappella, but fortunately I forgot the words of the main tune I’ve been practising for PeteStock of late, and my phone was mercifully turned off so I couldn’t jog my memory in sufficient time to have a go. But I did promise to sing Bohemian Rhapsody later that evening, and my later fate was sealed (although, I had already promised Kelvin when talk of Karaoke was first mooted a few months ago)

When Kelvin was ready for us, we found out that competition involving a head to head match up in Street Fighter 2…
Street Fighter 2... Oh Noes!

I’ll confess I groaned when I saw this – I never had a console back in those days, and whilst my opponent had never played the game, I had and I knew I was bad at it! Needless to say, I put in an embarrassing show that would subject me (rightly) to mockery for the rest of evening (and for some time since).

Before leaving for the day, I also managed to get the ShitForLinks stuff that I’d bartered for ahead of the event:

I’ve fortunately never really been that fazed by a bit of banter, or doing silly things for the amusement of others.

So on that note, here is a little video of me singing Bohemian Rhapsody (badly as ever for those that have heard me sing it before), featuring some awesome accompaniment from some friends (Kelvin, the organiser of BrightonSEO, Ben “yesiamben” Pritchard and Dom Hodgson from EmberAds and clicknmix):

I think the incessant cackle of laughter tells its own story really – hope you chuckled too!

Thanks to the SiteVisibility Facebook page for the photo’s I stole, and Ben Norman for the hugely, amusingly embarrassing video!

Bigger thanks has to go to Kelvin for organising all these events to. Good work sir, and please, on behalf of all of us – please keep them coming! Now that you are finished here, go watch the “proper” videos of the presentations from the last event.

ismepete (29 Posts)

I'm an online marketer, specialising in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). I write for theMediaFlow Search Engine Marketing blog, write my own personal blog covering online marketing and what's going on in my life and manage and contribute to a food blog.

BrightonSEO’s Evolution, Community and some Karaoke Fun!
  • timaldiss

    Hey Pete. Nice write up, but just to correct you… the first BrightonSEO you mention here was technically the second one! The first one was also above the Quadrant, but the #brightonseo event idea was conceived between Jaamit Durrani and myself when we worked together at Fresh Egg. That first session was just that – a session! It was an evening do with just a few talks, but mostly a lot of fine Quadrant ale (paid for by Adam Stafford), and some music as purveyed by (then just DJ) Kelvin Newman :) 

    Long may the conference continue and flourish.

  • Peter Handley

    Hi Tim, thanks for the comment.
    I don’t think I differentiated it very well in my writings, but by opening paragraph re drinks was the first one that you are alluding to here I think. (I’ve updated it a little to be clearer).

    I came along and partook in the free beverages upstairs in the Quadrant, although didn’t get as much chance to speak to Jaamit at the start as he opened the DJ’ing. 

    Unless, there was an earlier one than that too?

  • IM-SEO

    Is that Jason Statham in the front row on your second picture or Neil Walker?

  • Peter Handley

    LOL, it is of course Neil Walker 😀

  • shelli walsh

    Hi Pete
    Great roundup and thanks for the mention of my infographic and stack. I hadn’t realised that was you up on stage! I think if you had led the singing it might have given you the edge. Arcade games are soooo April 2012 anyway : )


  • Peter Handley

    Hi Shelli,

    Glad you liked it! People not realising it was me on stage for my failure I guess is probably a good thing!

    I was never that good at arcade games, despite Hayling Island where I grew up being littered with arcades at the time. Ah well, excuses, excuses, maybe I’m just a sore loser! :-)

  • Briony Gunson

    Good effort with Bohemian Rhapsody! Exhausting display – impressive dancing skills and vocal range, all the time with your BrightonSEO lanyard proudly flailing from around your neck! 😉

    Karaoke antics aside, Brighton SEO was great – fantastic quality of speakers but also really enjoyable. It’s true what you said about feeling so comfortable meeting fellow Twitter people when you first meet after having broken the ice online first… one of the great bonus points of the SEO/SEM community!

  • Alessio Madeyski

    Hi Pete,
    hope it’s ok for you…I am ripping this from YT and put it on my ipod. 
    Bohemian Rhapsody is cool already, but done in this way….really, Freddie Mercury sucks! 

    so thanks for this. my life changed.