Invite 2,000 people with an interest in digital marketing to beach-side brilliance of Brighton, throw in the fact that it all takes place on a Friday and add a healthy dose of south coast sunshine, and you might expect BrightonSEO to feel like a bit like a jolly holiday.
But in the packed-out theatres that made up the venue, the emphasis wasn’t on slacking off in the surf, but on knuckling down to testing and improving campaigns, and building up accurate, actionable data.
Now established as one of Europe’s leading search marketing events, the focus of the day is geared towards useful, practical tips, sharing stories of successes and failures and giving out warnings and advice. There is obviously a huge appetite for such an agenda, with swiftly-moving queues of people lining the streets last Friday to get in ahead of the day kicking off.
They weren’t disappointed when they made it inside the opulent setting of the Brighton Dome, with four separate arenas covering every aspect of SEM, from content to keywords and all topics in between. Being a content marketer myself, I was immediately drawn into talks by Tecmark’s Stacey MacNaught on how best to share content once it’s been lovingly created, and Christoph C Cemper of LinkResearchTools, who urged the audience to be aware of their content goals, and not value the wrong metrics. While social signals such as Twitter retweets and Facebook likes might help track distribution of a post, they can’t measure engagement, he warned – the best measure of engagement remains the link, he suggested, a metric so valuable, Google built their entire algorithm around it.
Google was inevitably one of the big topics of the day, with Samantha Noble from Koozai basing her talk around the rapidly-growing importance of Google Shopping. Of the 1,000 or so changes a year the big G makes to its behind-the-scenes processes, most of the recent ones have been geared towards their shopping platform, with businesses responding in kind, upping their spending, and seeing better ROI. She urged marketers using Google Shopping to aim for clarity in their headlines and their pics, and not be afraid to claim as much SERP real estate as possible, for example, with multiple ads covering products of a different colour. She also reminded everyone to put a big fat red ring in their calendar around the date of Black Friday (27th November), the biggest ever online retail day in the UK in 2014, and a timely nudge with autumn upon us.
Outside of the talks, the entire venue was buzzing with networking, with the hall devoted to company stands was packed out throughout the day for demos and discussions. It was a lot to take in, but full of useful tidbits and chances to talk to people at the cutting edge of SEM. If anything it really outlined the importance of building up your knowledge – of your market, of your audience, and of your competitors – to help your campaigns hit home. With that being the case, representing Adthena felt like being right at home, preaching competitive intelligence to the masses.
For an event that began in the upstairs room of a pub, BrightonSEO has grown into something pretty extraordinary – proof that sun, sea and SEM remains a winning combination.