A newbies perspective on SEO Conference SearchLove, London 2012

Virgin is a word that I tend not to associate with many aspects of my life these days.  I’d rather like to apportion it to the fact that I like to try my hand at different things.  Learn new skills.  Keep my knowledge current.  And no, as a Marketing professional, I am not talking about extra curricular activities!

But until a few days ago I was a SearchLove London virgin.  This was my opportunity to learn from the dons of the SEO industry.  My mission? To complete my knowledge, ask questions and network with like-minded industry people.

My SearchLove experience kicked off with a VIP Dinner reception at the Bluebird in Chelsea.  Not so much about the food (which was perfectly acceptable) but the guest v speaker ratio.  An impressive 1:1 and a seating plan to boot.

My dinner companion was Guy Levine, CEO of Return On Digital.  An interesting guy with an equally interesting story.  Started his own business at the tender age of 16, sold it by his 17th Birthday.  Two successful companies built up and sold on later, he spoke with pride and passion about his current venture, Return On Digital.  It also quickly transpired we shared some common interests – the love of classic cars…..the love of fast cars……..and the infectious bug that is foreign travel.  SEO experts weren’t so scary after all.

CEO of Return On Digital, Guy Levine and my dinner companion
CEO of Return On Digital, Guy Levine
and my dinner companion
VIP Dinner Venue, The Bluebird in Chelsea
VIP Dinner Venue, The Bluebird in Chelsea

Organisers Distilled did the perfect job of hosting, with bite size Q&A sessions blended seamlessly before and after each course of food, helping to provoke opinion around the room.  The evening was immensely productive.

And the experience just got better.

Day One of the conference.  Exceptional speakers, vocalising amazing content. The SEO community really is sharing and caring.  Competitors stood side-by-side offering out their wealth of knowledge and experience of what works well, and what doesn’t.  How refreshing to have industry experts who are not highly protective of what they know – they simply want to create good practice within an industry that has yet to see any formal qualification come into force.

With stand-out presentations from Wil Reynolds and my dinner buddy Guy, each presentation was packed with huge nuggets of information and actionable insights, explained in an easy to
digest way.

The day was ended with the bout of all bouts.  The head-to-head between Will Critchlow and Rand Fishkin.  Enter Will in the Blue corner! Rand in the Red!  Ding! Ding!  Let the fight commence!  With both producing outstanding presentations, this was going to be a close contest.  So close in fact, that after a show of hands, there was nothing between them…..a draw was declared.  Not even an educated audience of SEO professionals could decide between these two.  It wasn’t hard to
see why.

Will Critchlow, Co-Founder of Distilled
Will Critchlow, Co-Founder of Distilled
throwing a punch
Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz
Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz
championing the red corner!

Content is king and no one disappointed.  In fact one of the many key takeaways that came over loud and clear, was the role of genuinely good content as part of successful SEO.  And every single Speaker certainly practiced what they preached, with Day Two proving to be just as rewarding.

David Mihm kicked off the day’s proceedings with a compelling presentation about Local SEO packed with incredibly useful ways to maximise opportunities on a local level.

David Mihm President & CEO of GetListed.org in action
David Mihm President & CEO of
GetListed.org in action
Richard Baxter, Founder / Chief Marketing Strategist SEOgadget
Richard Baxter, Founder / Chief
Marketing Strategist SEOgadget

Richard Baxter followed with an equally dynamic speech sharing some inspired and unique ways to achieve links that are both relevant and targeted.

And before lunch David Peiris gave a very interesting look at how proactive creative content can achieve amazing things and get the world talking.

The morning sessions were hard to top.  But we had yet to listen to Lisa Myers passionate piece on ways of achieving good SEO internationally, a very witty and genius presentation from Paul Madden (complete with a brilliant Avatar audience challenge!) and before I run out of superlatives, a very absorbing and fascinating look at why and how we should be integrating video content into the mix to reap good ranking returns, from the intoxicating Phil Nottingham.

This was seriously good information, delivered by seriously knowledgeable people, to whom it felt a privilege to listen to.  But what became abundantly clear was how keen these experts were to engage with their audience.  And for my part, this was just as valuable and networking at its’ best. Organisers Distilled had it covered.

The spit and sawdust eclectic cellar bar provided the perfect relaxed backdrop after the sessions on the first day.  Attendees and Speakers mingled, whilst hostesses swept round with trays of cocktails and drinks in jam jars to keep the atmosphere lively.  And on the second night, the gorgeously original Crown & Sceptre in Fiztrovia provided a cosy and social hub for the meeting of minds.

I can honestly say, I have come away with far more than just great knowledge, information, tips and tricks.  I have also had the opportunity to meet some great people from across the industry, and across the Globe.  Would I recommend it? Hell Yeah!  In the words of Wil Reynolds, this is about Real Company Sh*t …..for Real Company People……

Samantha Adjemian mid flow with Phil Nottingham and Graphitas colleague Lacy Alexander
Samantha Adjemian mid flow with Phil Nottingham and Graphitas colleague Lacy Alexander

Images courtesy of Alec Kinnear of FolioVision/Distilled

Justin Taylor

Justin's path into design and marketing has been anything but conventional. A random selection of career decisions saw him designing rave flyers, t-shirts and (although refusing to divulge his stage name) he allegedly did a summer stint in Gt Yarmouth as a magician before finally settling on a career in marketing.