Penguins and Pandas: Think Visibility 9

So last Friday, I started out at my new job – ‘Outreach Specialist’ at Bronco, and I was immediately thrown in the deep end going off to my first ever conference, Think Visibility, in Leeds on the Saturday with Becky, Dave, Anthony and Kean. I’d been told this wasn’t a ‘normal’ conference, and that was definitely true – despite not being there for the pre- or after-party, things were a little unusual (in a good way!) including a Pick’n’Mix in the afternoon!
But onto the talks I attended. As I said, this was literally my second day in the industry having come straight out of teaching Classics, my only experience being this blog, which in fact turned out to be very little experience. So here’s a rundown of the talks I listened to (and took frantic notes from as always, I’ll try to keep it short!):
James Agate
Swerving the Guest Blogging Smackdown

By James Agate
With the impending smackdown on guest blogging, James discussed what to avoid and what to look out for. Things to avoid included: multi-category sites as these have very little value and will be wiped out first; community blogs, sites that are all guest posts; sites that accept guest posts from anyone; SEO link requirements – with outreach you need to negotiate and explain, and link to other relevant places so as not to create a pattern. He approached the question of whether or not to pay for a link and advised to avoid the ones that offer this as it’s a signal to Google. He said to avoid automated solutions as Google can easily pull lists from these; sites that Panda was designed for; ‘double-dipped’ posts that have 2 links because if one is hit, the other will be brought down too; spammy bio links, only place these where they look natural; and hitting a small set of publishers over and over.
Things to look out were: doing quality, manual ‘pre-flight’ checks and adapting to what the client needs; not setting the bar too high or being unrealistic; thinking about what would real publishers would do such as having authenticity and comments, and using social media while remembering that every industry is different. He suggested: take your time, keep it clean, keep it relevant; be vigilant of sites going bad more quickly than usual – monitor and weed them.

Al Carlton (spot me in the red on the left!)

Takeaway Tips: Learn From Successes and Failures of a 7 Figure Site
By Al Carlton
Al is the owner of the site Coolest Gadgets among a number of others. He focused mainly on the importance of putting in hard work with quality content, time and effort to build your business. His talk was involved and creative (particularly with the images in his presentation!).
A key tip was using social media – set up Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, whatever is relevant for your niche and spend some time on them for more interaction. He encouraged building an email list and getting readers to bookmark you. He emphasised a key theme throughout the conference: quality content is key – it will be shared. Remember to diversify your revenue generation and not to leave money on the table! He reminded us that networking is important, that you should follow up everything: conferences, emails and social interactions, and to use these connections, not being afraid to ask for help. And a final note: to outsource. You are running the business, not doing the grunt work – use the expertise of others.

Paul Madden

How to spot a sh*tty link
By Paul Madden
Paul began by introducing the risks of link building with Penguin, the more formal link penalties enforced by Google and the waves of unnatural link warnings. He explained that manual penalties cannot be removed unless physically done so by Google and warned against following everyone else. Instead he encouraged spreading things around so that when there is a new update, there will be a range for you to fall back on. I was amused to discover that Google break their own rules – remember the Cambridge Satchel advert? It was surprising to find out that it can be just as bad to remove links as to not remove them; it is all a balancing act. He encouraged keeping a record of link removal attempts so that you can provide as much information to Google as possible because they want to see that you’ve done the hard work. Finally, when removing links, bear in mind that for every one you remove, think about how you’ll add another.

Pak Hou Cheung

Content Outreach and Engagement: Staying Ahead of the Game
By Pak Hou Cheung
This talk focused on what a great deal of people were trying to get across: that quality content is the key; it existed before Google and will be shared naturally, explaining that Penguin penalises thin and weak content. He highlighted the importance of clients being educated in the process and using social media as a signal as the internet is used by humans.

Kristal Ireland

Social Media Strategy
By Kristal Ireland
Now this was a talk with more that I could understand, with Kristal using examples of fashion and beauty to get her point across of getting back to the basics with marketing. She highlighted the importance of finding out from consumers what they want and connecting with them via social media. Her examples of Black Milk and Illamasqua demonstrated the credibility of good content with fans driving the social media using sites like Pinterest.

Dave & Becky
Dave and Becky Naylor

What’s Behind a Successful Agency?
By Dave and Becky Naylor
Well of course I had to attend this one! Dave and Becky (speaking for her first time) took us through the story of Bronco from where it all began right up to today. This was a fantastic talk for me to get to know what I was getting myself into! They discussed everything from their wedding to the staff – the most important aspects being the kids and the staff, because by keeping your staff happy, you get happy customers. A lot of people seemed particularly impressed by the staff perks (everything from tea and biscuits in the office to car valeting and flu jabs – perk?!). It was a brilliant overview for me, and seems to be one of the most enjoyed talks of the day with Becky doing an amazing job for her first time (wouldn’t have known if she hadn’t told me!).

Thank you so much to all the speakers and to Dom Hodgson for organising it all (and the sweets!).


All photos courtesy of sk8geek.

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