A4uExpo London 2009

georgeseoToday, Monday, is the first day I am back at my desk after the A4uExpo in London.  Straight after the conference, I jetted (well, ferried) off to sunny Arran, on the Clyde Riviera, where I had a tremendous weekend with the family – making up for the London trip.  I know how to spoil them.

This was my first A4uExpo and I have to ask myself the question, why did it take so long in  deciding to come?   Taking account of the mass of networking opportunities, the knowledge offered and the new ideas shared more than made up for the financial outlay – which makes attending  the A4uExpo London next year a no-brainer!

The first night was an excellent example.  At the pre-conference party I met up with 2 great guys from Google – Fili and Kasper.  Fili Wiese is an Search Quality Analyst and Kaspar Szymanski (can’t find a blog etc) is a search Quality Strategist.  These guys were very approachable and happy to answer every question put to them – literally, every question!  I was surprised though that there weren’t more people around them, hanging on to every word they said – perhaps this was due to the ever decreasing figure of Chris Clarkson hogging their attention for most of the night.

Bright eyed and bushy tailed I trotted off to the first day of the conference.  The first session I attended was Dave Naylor’sStrategies to Make a Splash“.  Unfortunately I lost my notes for that session (you’ll find a good summary here) but what I came away with was that if you put your wordpress blog on a separate sub-domain, Google and other search engines will treat it as a separate site.  This is a great tip for those looking for cheap link love to their main site.

The Dave Naylor show continued at the next session – “Meet the Search Engines” (summarised here) where he was standing in for Yahoo who failed to show up.   This session was both informative and entertaining and finished off superbly with Dave showing us how to get a free one way follow link  from flickr – genius!

The last stand out session of the day was the “Google Site Clinic”.  The lads from Google – Fili, Kaspar and Mat- reviewed a few sites giving great SEO advice.  I spoke to Fili later about this and he said that all they were doing was looking at page source code, quality and quantity of content – simple.    I have read some blogs about this session,  some of which were complaining about the fact that the lads weren’t giving away too many secrets.  The complainers don’t realise that SEO is not about finding the magic bullet to rank well, it’s about doing the hard yards content, coding and link building.  It would be interesting to see how the sites which were being reviewed improved from their advice – sometimes doing the basics is enough – although it’s hard charging a large fee for this type of advice.  I think one kitten was let out of the bag by Mat Trewhella though, something which I’m keeping close to my chest until I do some testing.

The second day for me was not as good as the first, maybe a wee bit of a hangover clouded my impressions.  I dragged my sorry behind out of bed for the first session of the day “Killer Link Building Strategies” and I am glad I did.  At this session Lyndon Antcliff expanded on the importance of grabbing the audience’s attention and then delivering great relevant content.  He suggested that people will be more likely to link to your site if you write about highly topical issues or if your article is in some way contentious.  Personally I think this is a load of rubbish ;).

One of the highlights of the day was the session “Extreme SEO Moderated Debate”.  The panellists provided a great insight into what SEO tools they use and how they apply them.  Dave “Steal the Show” Naylor again entertained and informed telling us how to use Google Suggests as part of an effect SEO strategy.  “Apparently” it only takes 65 searches to show up in Google Suggest!

I found Gary Beal‘s session “Conversion is King” really useful.  Although Gary (a refugee from the US as a result of them outlawing gambling ) specialises in gambling, all of his SEO techniques are transferable.  I particularly found his methodology for discovering “low hanging fruit” very useful and I’ll write more about this when I put it to the test.

The A4uExpo has given me a lot of great ideas to put to the test.  I’ll let you know how I get on with these.  As for value for money- I’d say it gives it in spades.

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