BrightonSEO Spring 2012 Review

Written by David Somerville - 17 Apr 2012

The biggest (and arguably the best) Brighton SEO conference took place in Brighton on Friday last week.

Close to 1,000 SEOs and other digital practitioners headed to the Brighton Dome to hear a great selection of speakers discuss a range of topics related to natural search marketing.

The straw poll at the start from organiser Kelvin Newman revealed that while a large number of attendees were from the south east, London, or other parts of the UK, some had travelled even further. There was a strong contingent from Europe, including a Spanish group who were very active on Twitter, but the winner of the ‘furthest travelled’ prize went to a chap from Thailand!

Google vs. the rest

Activity on stage kicked off with “Ask the Engines,” a panel session chaired by Fresh Egg’s very own Tony Goldstone, and featuring Pierre Far (Google), Dave Coplin (Bing), Martin Macdonald (Expedia) and Rishi Lakhani (explicityme/freelance).

The discussion was fast-paced and at times a little ‘heated’ (which made it more interesting) as the panel thrashed out a few topics including “How does the SEO industry need to evolve.”

There’s a useful round-up on this discussion from Silicon Beach Training.

We thought it would be lengthy to list here all our notes on each presentation, so instead here’s the running order of the speakers and links to their slides (where they have put them online):

Phillip Sheldrake – Future SEO Vistas – The Semantic Web and the Internet of Things

Sam Noble – How to Launch or Re-launch a Brand or Product Online Effectively

Adam Lee – Killer Market Research for Peanuts

Glenn Jones – Microformats and SEO

Roland Dunn – Searchbots: Lost Children or Hungry Psychopaths? What Do Searchbots Actually Do?

Charlie Peverett – It’s only words? Working with Content Strategy

Lexi Mills – How you can get BIG Links from BIG Media Sites

James Owen – Maximizing your SEO Agencies

Stefan Hull – Search Marketing – from Panda to Black Swan

20/20 Presentations – 20 slides that auto-advance every 20 seconds:

Kevin Gibbons – 20 Tools You May Not Have Heard Of, But Should Be Using

NB. Kevin was unfortunately not able to attend the event, but a number of these SEO tools are excellent.

Chelsea Blacker – Sell The Sizzle, Not The Search: Tactics For Appeasing Marketing Directors

Tony King – Enterprise SEO TiTTies

TiTTies stood for Tools, Tips & Techniques 

Tim Ireland – SEO & PPC Working In Harmony Together

James Carson – I Believe Authors Are The Future

Nichola Stott – Mobile Serendipity: How Google Plans To Send Search Results To Users, Before You’ve Even Thought To Look

And the cherry on the cake…

Dom Hodgson – I appear To Have Started a Sweetshop (And Advertising Company)

There are some good snippets of each presentation on Site Visibility’s blog if you want more.


Stefan Hull BrightonSEOMany people will have taken away some stand-out ideas or thoughts from the day.  Some key highlights for Steve Hutton, SEO Engineer at Fresh Egg, were:

  1. Google slipping that websites can have their microformat markup ignored if abused, although no ranking penalties will be incurred;
  2. Bing continuing to hint the importance of social signals;
  3. The SEO community as a whole does not believe the recent SSL encryption (not provided) was anything to do with user safety;
  4. ‘The internet of things’ is growing and all suggests SEO is still in infancy.

Mark Chalcraft, another SEO Engineer at Fresh Egg, particularly enjoyed Stefan Hull’s presentation “Panda to Black Swan” and said about it: “The idea that what is a surprise for a turkey is not a surprise for the turkey farmer lead to the metaphor that the SEO industry should be aiming to be innovators (farmers) rather than followers (turkeys).

“This opened the way for the recommendation that the industry should not be chasing Google’s algorithm, but rather that SEOs should ‘chase after your best interpretation of what users want, because that’s what Google’s chasing after.’

“It was an excellent discussion, with interesting facts and figures, exploring the mind-set of the SEO industry and the importance of leading rather than following.”

Quotes of the day…

BrightonSEO Fresh Egg

For many people it was certain sound bites from the speakers that gave them food for thought. Here’s a selection of some of the memorable ones chosen by Laura Macdonald, Director of Content and Online PR at Fresh Egg:

“Nobody understands what you do and there’s profit and power in that … there are no rules and there is no career path laid out.” Dave Coplin, Bing

“Consider what does the user want and did they get it … does the site answer those two questions.  Think about it, it’s all about content.” Pierre Farr, Google

“Don’t chase after Google’s algorithm, chase after your best interpretation of what users’ want because that’s what Google’s chasing after.” Stefan Hull, Propellernet

“The role of SEOs is to be helpful, valuable and influential to all stakeholders.” Philip Sheldrake

 “People don’t really talk about linkbait anymore … when I hear people talk about linkbait I’m a little bit sick in my mouth.” Charlie Peverett, iCrossing

“I always tell my team to have two espressos and a bag of Haribo before picking up the phone to speak to the press.” Lexi Mills, Distilled PR (on pitching content to the media)

“We need to understand the past to understand the future.” Nichola Stott, Media Flow (on Intuitive Search)

“If you ever put a squirrel on your website, make it wink.” Dom Hodgson

Ahmed Khalifa, SEO engineer for Fresh Egg said his favourite quotes of the day were:

 “SEO will never die. It will evolve but will never die.” Pierre Far, Google

“If I don't know what's bad, how am I supposed to know what's good?” Rishi Lakhani, freelancer

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a ranking factor.” Pierre Far (much to the dismay of the audience)

What was your favourite quote from the day? Let us know by commenting below.

If you weren't able to attend the conference (or even if you did) then you can relive it with our Brighton SEO April 2012 Infographic