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!
(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.
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:
- http://delicious.com/stacks/view/EwV9qd (great stack of coverage)
And below are most of the slides etc:
- Future SEO Vistas
- (Re)Launching a Brand or Product online Effectively
- Microformats and SEO
- Searchbots – Lost Children or Hungry Psychopaths?
- It’s Only Words? Working with A Content Strategy
- Advanced Search Queries for SEO
- 20 Tools You May Not Have Heard of But Should Be Using
- Sell the Sizzle Not the Search
- SEO & PPC Working Together in Harmony
- I Believed Authors are the Future
- Mobile Serendipity: How Google Plans to Send Search Results to Users, Before You’ve Even Thought to Look
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:
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…
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!
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.