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Drink Vis kicked off on Friday night with a great party at The Mint, featuring Koozai cocktails (or Kooztails as I like to call them) and some mini golf adventures.
For those that didn’t over do it on the Kooztails, the Think Visibility presentations started in earnest at 10am following a great intro from Dom Hodgson (“Koozai! Say it with me…’Koozai’…’Koozai’…’Koozai’…”).
There were brilliant swag bags featuring Think Vis Lego mini figures, pick n mix, and a cardboard Dom of course!
Unfortunately there is only one of me and I haven’t yet mastered teleportation, so this post only covers half of the fantastic presentations that took place.
First up was Ben Wolfendern with Thailand and Inbound Marketing Adventures. This was a hugely inspiring story about how Ben was offered the opportunity to create a startup in Thailand. This involved challenges greater than simply not knowing the language, from being forced to give up 40% of the business to being framed by hotel maids.
The end result was a successful CRM system which logged various marketing touch points between new mums and a baby milk manufacturer. This allowed the company to create highly personalised marketing material. The challenge of managing staff, cash-flow and learning the ways of a new country made for some very exciting stories which made the experience sound both amazing and terrifying.
Ben’s tips for starting a business in Thailand?
1. Don’t trust that smile! No one really has a clue what you are saying.
2. Nobody wants to love you long time
3. Always wear a helmet on a moped
4. Don’t let the client buy 40% of your business
5. Enjoy it
6. Don’t stay at a certain well known hotel
7. 10tbh is 20p and the coins look the same as a two Euro coin
Eventually the business was sold and when asked if he would do it again, Ben said yes because it’s the most amazing experience you could ever have.
Malcolm Coles‘ presentation (Win at SEO with duplicate content) was in essence about how to rank multiple times on the first page of results for trending search terms.
There were mentions of Pippa Middleton’s backside and Karen Gillan’s underwear but to summarise:
1. Work out what people are searching for right now by using tools such as AOL Hot Searches, Google News USA, Yahoo’s trending now list, and other sources like the BBC’s website which tells you what their most popular items are every hour. Also use Google Trends and Google Insights to see what was trending around the same time last year to predict what might trend again this year.
2. Now you know what subjects people are searching for, use Google Instant to see the words they are using in their search queries.
3. Create content around these subjects and optimise it for the terms you have identified.
Speed is of the essence here, as you need to get the content live as soon as possible. If you get it up there even as late as three hours after the topic is trending it is likely you won’t make it to page one.
4. You can then publish the same content on a slightly different URL or sub domain and place a 301 redirect on it to the original content’s URL. Make sure you give it a different Meta title.
Google index the URLs before they catch on to the redirects which means you can have multiple entries on the first page for the same content.
You can also achieve this using bespoke tracking code in your News Sitemap.
Another handy trick is to have a comments page on a separate page from the main story so that you have the opportunity for this to rank in addition to the main page.
The day was nicely punctuated with a great buffet lunch (including yummy double chocolate chip cookies) and of course some light entertainment in the form of something which resembled Family Fortunes. This involved a Koozai team of myself, Anna and Andy going up against Martin, Richard and Rob from OMD. We had to guess the end of the sentence based on Google Suggest results.
This featured some top moments including “How long is a mile” (you all know what I meant!), Andy’s “Are dogs allergic to dog food?”, and Anna’s “How old is Jesus?”. The Koozai team then went on to an extra special bonus round where Anna had a box put over her head and was challenged to break open a piñata held by Andy under direction from me. After a lot of shouting, hitting and severe bruising, Anna finally cracked it open.
Not only did we win another Think Vis Lego mini figure and shiny party bags, but both teams received a limited edition golden Dom. What more could you ever want!? Mine is on my desk as I write this.
Later on came the pick n mix, which I think was possibly the best hangover cure of the day.
Jennifer O’Grady‘s presentation was a great case study of how her team created a strategy to drive the people of Bury to engage online with the social media campaign for local shopping centre ‘The Rock’.
The case study included the challenges of trying to work with multiple agencies that the client had decided to involve and working to very tight deadlines, often with little budget.
The social media used was a combination of Facebook, Twitter & YouTube and Jennifer’s honesty about what did and didn’t work was incredibly refreshing.
Activities varied from creating meteor rock hunts, music videos, style competitions, Valentine’s day messages, to Easter egg hunts. It was interesting to see that in some instances Twitter just didn’t engage with this particular audience but Facebook or YouTube worked really well.
Then main advice from Jennifer was to never be scared to try an idea because you are always learning from those things that didn’t work.
Nichola Stott’s presentation titled ‘How to Find the Angle’ was a great insight on ways to make the most of opportunities to create content online, even if you don’t have the most interesting subject to write about.
Nichola gave some great ideas on ways to think about what you can write about as well as the best places to put that content online, depending on the content and the industry.
One key point from this presentation was to remember that not all content is suitable for all online platforms. It’s important to get to know your client’s media, for example if they are a greengrocer find out what their trade magazine is and whether it has an online version.
Nichola reminded us of some of the key factors that make newsworthy stories what they are, which you can keep in mind when planning your own content. If something is the biggest, the smallest, the first or the last this can provide an angle to create news. If something is finite, like a sale that ends on Boxing Day, this can also be a good starting point for creating good content. Human interest will also always also be a great angle for creating news stories.
Another great tip if you don’t think you have anything newsworthy to write about is to make something up! Nichola listed surveys as a great way of creating news and often a little bit of controversy. Remember to keep in mind what you would like to achieve in the content you want to write about and make sure the methodology you choose for your research reflects this. It can be as large-scale as hiring an external agency to carry out the research, or simply interviewing your client to identify new angles.
Competitions and give-aways were also on Nichola’s list of way’s to create newsworthy content. For this one, make sure you have a decent prize or some kind of human interest angle to work alongside it.
One other way to develop newsworthy content is to create controversy. Nichola sites Ryanair as a good example of a company who create controversy simply for the press coverage. Remember to keep your client informed and get them to agree to anything you plan to do that may cause controversy.
Nichola wasn’t saying that it’s okay to write rubbish and put it online, just illustrating that there are lots of ways to come up with great ideas for engaging content.
Your Time to Shine was a new feature this year, where anyone could volunteer to give a short presentation on a subject of their choice. It was great to see some new faces up there, as well as some established speakers, all giving the audience something a little bit different.
First up was Malcolm Slade with a presentation on the importance of brand in search. He raised some great points about how Google manages to identify brands and how they seem to be able to get away with more online. He also warned that bad SEO can still damage a brand and reminded us that Meta is extremely important in order to avoid the ‘black hole effect’ of losing clicks to other listings.
The next presentation was from Rishi Lakhani about sneaky keyword research. Rishi stated that the Google keyword tool isn’t that great (using language I’m not allowed to write in a Koozai blog post). He suggests using Flippa.com as a source for data on keywords. Check it out as all the data is there and it’s free!
Peter Wailes continued this section of the day in his awesome Ninja ensemble, presenting “What getting kicked in the head repeatedly taught me about business”.
Pete acknowledges that in the business world there is nearly always someone bigger or better than you. He likened his strategy for dealing with this to tae kwon do stating that it was about observation, reaction and speed.
Next was Koozai’a very own Anna Lewis, who spoke about making money with multi-channel funnels. Anna gave a really useful guide on where to find this function in Google Analytics, what you can find out from it and how this data might influence your decision on where to put your marketing spend.
Last but not least Bas Van Den Beld ended this session with a brilliantly engaging tale of his family holiday to France. In a bid to combine camping with luxury by staying in a house near a campsite, Bas located an idyllic house which appeared perfect for his family holiday. The experience he had here due to the owners is what almost made him turn to the dark side. A very entertaining tale!
The last session I attended was Ask the Experts, which included a panel of Nichola Stott and Kelvin Newman, who were later joined by Pete Wailes.
There were some really interesting questions in this session. Here’s a brief summary of some of them:
What is the most important bit of SEO?
The panel concluded that there is no ‘one bit’ that is most important, but discussed the following areas as particularly influential at the moment;
-Social signals, such as how much traffic a link brings
-Query Deserves Freshness (QDF Model). This was talked about using an example of the SERPs for a celeb who is currently trending vs. one that is not)
-Social popularity of content
-Edge rank is an algorithm used in Facebook to determine what is in your newsfeed and could be creeping into other algorithms. It’s basically Affinity (perceived relationship you have with the person posting), Edge weight (eg richer media such as photos have a higher weight vs a text update), and Frequency (how often you interact with that person).
Is the role of an SEO changing?
The panel summarised that all roles change and the role of an SEO is no exception. All roles change. They observed that we see many specialisms within the world of SEO now, for example CRO specialists who purely focus on this aspect of it. They said that this isn’t something to fear as it brings lots of new opportunities for businesses and it’s a sign of diversification.
What are the best ways to deal with a popular product that has lots of inbound links but has sold out?
-301 the page (might be a viable solution depending on how many products there are which require redirecting)
As the questions progressed it turned into more of an on-going discussion which worked really well and brought out a lot of interesting thoughts from the panel. My personal highlight was how search engines are become more concerned with delivering information to searchers not by offering appropriate results but by sending them to your website. For example if you look at
Everyone then disappeared for a little bit to get food, or sleep, or both, only to return later for another night of partying, this time in the casino. It was a great night with robot wars, Guitar Hero and a great domain name auction for charity. After doing their bit for charity, everyone returned to the drinking and gambling and the night continued on into the early morning…
Thanks for reading my post. All the write-ups of presentations are just summaries but please do get in touch if you think I’ve missed anything fundamental.
Thanks for a great Think Vis!
You can catch a summary of the presentations I didn’t attend from my colleague @Mad_Hollywood here.