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Think Visibility March 2011: Like SMX at Charlie Sheen’s House.

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Malcolm Slade

Head of Technical SEO

Last weekend was a great weekend. Not only was it my birthday, but I got to attend the best conference I have been to in my five and a half years in search, namely Think Visibility.

About Think Visibility

Think Visibility is the brain child of one Dominic (@thehodge) Hodgson and began in March 2009. The main idea of Think Visibility is to get a group of like-minded people together to discuss a range of subjects from SEO to travelling around the world via Twitter.

What makes Think Visibility different?

While my title might be a bit extreme, it does give a general idea of how Think Visibility is run and the general atmosphere. Think Vis (I’m already bored of typing it in full) is a single day event held at the Alea Casino in Leeds. This choice of location lends itself to a very relaxed atmosphere rather than the more corporate feel of your SES and SMXs. This relaxed atmosphere combined with bacon butties for breakfast, more pic-n-mix than I have ever seen in my life, rubber ducks, lunchtime entertainment and a bar that opens while the conference is on, makes Think Vis the ultimate place to chat with some really interesting people like Dixon Jones, Stephen Pavlovich, Paul Madden, Becky Naylor (and I guess Dave) and Ben Elton (sorry Jason). Another thing that makes Think Vis different is the speakers, who seem a lot more relaxed than at most conferences I have attended. Topics are more casually explained using interesting analogies and enjoyable stories rather than graphs and stats. So on to the speakers and topics...

Speakers and Topics

Several great posts (which I have listed below) have already been written about the speakers and their topics, so I am solely going to add my spin on things that I attended rather than go over old ground. The first speaker of the day for me was Peter Cooper (a passionate Ruby developer, author and entrepreneur). The first thing to say about Peter is he looks absolutely nothing like his photo. The second thing is he has really thought about how geeks can promote themselves.  His presentation,“Self Promotion for Geeks: Let’s Look at Attracting and Audience For Our Projects,” made for a very light hearted and interest talk with some interesting takeaways. Following on from Peter was Stephen Pavlovich, taking a fresh spin on conversion rate optimisation under the subject “Mind Games: Using Brainwashing, Psychology and Cults to Boost Your Conversion Rate.” I really enjoyed Stephen’s talk because a) he looked like my favourite comedian and b) he made some really deep points about what conversion rate optimisation should be addressing beyond the colour of buttons etc. I have even ordered “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Ciadini” off of the back of Stephen’s recommendation. Next came lunch and a chance for me to embarrass myself taking part in “Play Your SERPs Right.” Here we (two other contestants and I) had to answer several higher and lower questions based on where certain sites ranked for certain terms. To cut a long sour story of betrayal short, I WAS ROBBED! After lunch I found out what performance marketing was via “Performance Marketing? It’s a Piece of Cake – Getting the ingredients right for success” by Tina Judic. I will be honest my brain hasn’t recovered from watching a Victoria Sponge being made live on stage. I was also disappointed that a Bluebird A La Carte Kitchen wasn’t used to cook the sponge layers. Next was Dixon Jones talking about Majestic SEO. Now I have had a lot of experience with Majestic SEO and seen Dixon speak several times, so I was a bit worried that the talk would be a sales pitch. Well, it wasn’t. Dixon was great and although I personally didn’t learn anything new, it was a great talk and lots of people did. My last talk of the day (I will explain why in a moment) was Gary Taylor talking about his experiences of buying domains and trying to up-sell/make money from them in “One Domain, One Hundred Days, One Result.” While the topic was very well geared toward the main core of attendees, I didn't really get much from it and felt like the over emphasis on exact match domains wasn’t backed up with any reasoning as to why they work (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAWFv43qubI). The next speaker was Dave Naylor doing a site clinic. I did genuinely want to attend this (honest Dave) but I got talking to Pete Young, Dixon Jones and Jason Duke (as is the way with Think Vis) and time just flew by.

On to the after party

Right I’m not going to say much about the after party here as here is not the place. I may post something on my own blog later. What I will say is we sponsored the after party which meant some free drinks, a poker and roulette table, blackjack (not the same as Pontoon as I found out), and lots more fun. Loads of people attended, the beer flowed and everybody had a great time long into the next morning.

To conclude

Think Visibility is awesome. Everyone from Epiphany who attended had a great time, learned something and met loads of new friends. What more can you honestly ask from a conference. Once again I take my hat off to Dom for creating something so slick while keeping it rooted in the North. By the way, did I mention I ate 20 Creme Eggs on the Friday? Malcolm (@SEOmalc) Slade

Other Think Vis Posts

http://blog.pushon.co.uk/think-visibility/think-visibility-live-blogging-march-2011/ http://www.hobo-web.co.uk/seo-blog/sinkvis/ http://www.stateofsearch.com/think-visibility-5-march-2011-the-one-with-the-panda-pick-n-mix/