Think Visibility 2 Review (Sept 2009)

think-visibility-conference-logoThis weekend I took the chance to attend the second Think Visibility conference, held in Leeds that is described as covering “the things that usually get left behind in the web design process” – with speakers covering various areas of blogging, SEO, affililate marketing and PPC.

First of all, I think it’s always good to see these types of events happening outside of London for a change and giving us northern bloggers and online, web-type people to experience an event such as this without having to necessarily travel all the way down south – not there’s anything wrong with that, but the chance to meet other people is always good!

Having attended the first Think Visibility conference back in March 2009 and found it very useful, I did think that it would be worthwhile attending again and what with the upgrade in venue (from the previous Old Broadcasting House location) and another impressive list of speakers, along I went and here’s what I thought of the presentations that I attended…


Think Visibility Speakers

WordPress SEO Strategies – Joost de Valk (@yoast)
First of the keynote speakers was Joost de Valk, well known to many of us who run WordPress to power our blogs, not only for his optimisation and SEO tips that he writes about, but also for the plugins that he develops and many of us use on a daily basis. His talk focussed on optimising your WordPress site and covered areas such as page load times and their relationship to readers and Google, caching, image size etc. Lots of great ideas here and I was making notes during the whole presentation and now have a list of things to address off the back of this great talk! I even got to have a quick chat with him at lunchtime, a very approachable guy and was great to see him at Think Visibility in Leeds.

Big Site SEO: The – Julian Sambles (@JulianSambles)
In recent years you’ve probably heard a lot about how newspapers have been struggling to come to terms with the new world of online media and how many of them just aren’t approaching from the right angle – from listening to Julian go through the process that The Telegraph has implemented over the last few years, you can see that they’ve had a real success story thanks to how they’ve approached online publishing of their content from teaching their journalists to consider the basics of SEO to embracing social bookmarking networks and even teaching their readers about what these Digg and StumbleUpon are.

Maximising Universal Search – Judith Lewis – (@JudithLewis)
Judith gave a very interesting talk on how search engine results (specifically Google) are changing over time and that more of the results pages are displaying results from different sources, instead of just a list of ten webpages. You’re now getting pictures, videos and map results for instance – therefore it’s important to have a presence in these areas as well, otherwise you could quite easily be missing off the frontpage of Google results where historically you may have been 6th or 7th – these days you could be relegated to page 2. Lots of tips to be had here, including the fact that YouTube is actually the second largest search engine after Google, a fact that most people don’t seem to consider when looking at the search market. Oh and she also passed tins of chocolates round the room as that was the basis of her examples being a chocolate fan – thanks Judith!

Lunch & Entertainment
As well as providing plenty of food and drink for everyone, at lunchtime there was Q&A panel segment with Al Carlton, Chris Garrett, Tim Nash, Kieron Donoghue and Patrick Altoft Dom Hodgson – an interesting and fun panel which even gave away some prizes in the form of low-flying T-shirts!


After this entertainment, the single large room was then turned into three separate rooms – not only did this work well in terms of there being plenty of space still, but I was also impressed at how well sound-proofed they were, the only sound that got through from the other rooms was the applause at the end of a talk.

Advanced Geekery Made Simple, for the Purposes of Profit – Paul Robinson
Right I admit it; I like stats and analytics, so Paul’s talk on this subject was definitely something that interested me. It certainly made you think about the analytical work that goes into recommendation systems and assuming you have certain demographic information about people, for instance on your website, you can then target them for maximum profit, just like Tesco do with their Clubcard system!

One Link to Rule Them All – Tim Nash (@tnash)
Tim’s talks are always worth listening to, not only do you hear interesting and useful information on a topic, but he’s got a great presentation style too which makes it all the better to hear – I just wish I could have attended his Friday afternoon pre-conference session he held. In this talk, he covered the fact that not all links are made equal, links from certain sites can be worth a lot more and depending where they are on the page, that could also now be a determining factor in their value – links in content are the best!

How to Win at the Content Network – Zoe Piper (@savamaloy)
Zoe is an expert on Adwords, something that I’ve never really looked into, so I thought that this was the ideal opportunity to learn more and I wasn’t disappointed. This talk had lots of useful how-to information on running PPC campaigns specifically centred around content and I’ll definitely go back to her slides if and when I start using Adwords myself. This was Zoe’s first speaking event and she did remarkably well as you wouldn’t have thought it, she came across very knowledgeable and confident in what she was talking about, I look forward to hearing her future talks.

Accessibility and Disability: A History of Innovation – Artur Ortega (@DesignByBlind)
I was looking forward to hearing Artur’s talk and wasn’t disappointed, he’s a blind software engineer for Yahoo and it was interesting to hear the history of so many of our office equipment. Be it computers, telephones, scanners etc have all originated from the original inventions being applications to aid accessibility for disabled people. I also found it very intriguing how many inventions were either directly created by Alexander Graham Bell or indirectly through his organisation.


Overall, I think it’s fair to say that Think Visibility in Leeds has been a real success this year, this latest conference in September 2009 building on the success of the first back in March 2009 and definitely improving on it to create an event that was professional, well organised, enjoyable and informative. Thanks to everyone at Think Visibility, Hodgetastic and Dom “The Hodge” Hodgson for putting this event together!

If you’ve got any interest in these topics, I’d definitely suggest you consider attending the next one, Think Visibiliity 3 in March 2010 as not only do you learn important new things, but get to meet and chat with some great people such as Gaj, Gary Hartley, Andrew Mason, Joanna Butler, David Lindop and by the end of the day I’m sure you’ll leave with a real motivation boost to move forward just like I did!

If you are interested in this and other conferences, then there is a great new website called Conference Calendar that will help you organise and keep track of all these kinds of events that are happening around the world.

Other Think Visibility Coverage

If you’d like to read what other people have been writing about this event, then also take a look at the following Think Visibility write-ups (let me know if you’ve also written about it and would like adding to this list).