That’s a wrap on brightonSEO 2023. One of Seeker’s PR Specialists shares their favourite memories of the event and advises you to “get out of your comfort zone” if you’re thinking of attending the world’s largest seaside search conference.
Beginning in 2010 in a room above a pub, brightonSEO has transformed into a major calendar event for SEOs, content buffs and digital PRs alike. Twice a year the search marketing community descend on the Brighton Centre to take the pulse of our ever-evolving industry, attend a smorgasbord of fascinating talks, reacquaint with friendly faces – and dare I say it, dabble in a little ‘networking’.
This year’s event was packed with special moments for the Seeker team, not least of which was a totally fetch debut talk from our very own Sinead Mclarty on the Mean Girls Principle for prospecting (more on this later). On a personal note, this marked my fourth time attending brightonSEO. It was a time to get out of my comfort zone and explore a little of everything the conference had to offer.
Now a couple of weeks removed from September 2023’s edition of brightonSEO, I thought now would be the perfect time to reflect on what was a very busy conference for the Seeker team, especially with the event jetting across the pond to San Diego in November.
I am writing this post to bookmark some of my favourite memories and experiences, as well as give some advice so newcomers can get the most from their tickets.
One long journey from Bristol and a run around the London tube network later, we arrived at Brighton’s regent-looking rail station ready to drop off our bags and set up Seeker’s photobooth…
Memories of brightonSEO (September 2023)
Getting out of your comfort zone is a great mantra to approach brightonSEO holding. The event can feel a little daunting, overwhelming and often exhausting, but there are few places where you can find 5,000 people sharing – let’s face it – your rather niche interest in digital marketing.
Dive headfirst into the community, attend as many talks as you can, have conversations with exhibitors and take lots of notes. Here’s a little snapshot of what we got up to this September:
Attending inspiring talks
Brighton’s schedule is jam-packed with incredible speakers, sharing their twopence on various industry topics ranging from ideating kickass digital PR campaigns to the ominous rise of machine learning. This year’s blockbuster headliner was Professor Hannah Fry as she took to the auditorium to talk about the trouble with automation and the childishly human word “poop”.
Beyond the headline speakers, brightonSEO has something for everyone. I jumped into a run of strategy talks, keen to absorb ideas from some of the industry’s most tactical minds by way of osmosis and lots of notetaking. Wanting to move further into the strategic development of digital PR, these talks were top of my list for the week. I left feeling uplifted, imbued with the notion: that everyone can be strategic, don’t doubt yourself and approach your ideas with a hypothesis.
Gatekeeping is a bit of a facade in our industry. Sharing experiences and information is a beautiful thing, something that brightonSEO and conferences like it give people a platform to do. Attend as many of these talks as you can, reaffirm what you already know, push yourself a little further, and explore topics that feel completely new.
Exhibiting at brightonSEO
“Come and say hi to Seeker!”. We’re proud to exhibit at brightonSEO and it’s a big part of our brand. We love to chat with everyone at the conference about our work and yours, showcasing our expertise and making new connections along the way. So, don’t be afraid to say “hello” when you’re here.
From a personal perspective, being on the stand is a great learning experience that has made me feel more confident about speaking about my work. I encourage anyone with the opportunity to give exhibiting a go, whether you’re a junior learning the ropes or a specialist in your role. It’s another opportunity to get out of that day-to-day comfort zone. By chatting at the stand, I’ve gotten to learn about pressure points in different industries from real people, finding out how our services can best support these needs.
Seeker exhibits throughout the whole of brightonSEO, from the fringe event to the main conference hall. Our photobooth is always a big hit and it’s great to see all the fun people have with it. Exhibiting is not without controversy, however, with the great mystery of our missing plushy polar bear – named after the infamous 2011 Google update – remaining unsolved. If you have any information in regards to its whereabouts, get in touch! The penguin attended alone this year.
Seeker’s brightonSEO dinner party
Seeker’s Brighton dinner party has become a tradition for the agency over the years. Starting as a way to meet up in the evening away from the busy conference, the soirée has grown in number at every event. We invite old friends, speakers and people we admire to keep the community spirit going.
This year saw a record attendance for our dinner, but it remained the same familiar experience. Full of friendly faces and great food. With people from a range of backgrounds and expertise, I’ve always loved getting to know new people and catching up with those I’ve known for years – It’s not very often we can all get together under one roof. Get in touch if you want a place on the guest list next year!
Going from attending talks to completing one of your own – that’s no small feat and something our very own Sinead McLarty did with just two weeks to prepare.
Speaking at a conference can be incredibly daunting, especially for the first time. Putting yourself out there on stage is something Sinead would like to encourage for anybody thinking about applying:
How did you feel after the talk?
Sinead says: “Speaking at Brighton was a joy and I’m so happy I did it. The crowd were really receptive and engaged which made me feel more secure in my delivery and I even got a couple of laughs! The thing I was most proud of was that someone asked me if the deck would be available afterwards, which made me feel like what I delivered was useful. Something very important to me.”
Would you recommend new speakers to apply?
Sinead says: “If I am honest, I didn’t expect my talk to go as well as it did. This is why I would 100% recommend that anyone who has any trepidation about applying, just bite the bullet and do it. Mainly because you are not as alone and unguided as you probably have in your head. The team at BrightonSEO provide you with support and guidance every step of the way. If I pulled it together in a mere 3 weeks, I think that anyone who has a decent concept is capable.”
Sinead’s totally fetch talk on the Mean Girls principle for prospecting (finding sites when it feels like there are none), was one of our highlights of the week. If you have a talk in mind, apply for next April’s brightonSEO. The conference has proven accommodating for both experienced speakers and those making their debut, so why not give it a shot?
Advice & takeaways from the conference
Seeker has written an in-depth blog on getting the most out of brightonSEO, so I recommend checking out that post in full for anyone looking to attend their upcoming events. For now, I’ll leave you with my personal five pieces of advice and learnings off the back of this most recent event:
- Get out of your comfort zone and believe in your expertise
- Send some love to the speakers on Twitter
- Explore other events around Brighton
- Get some fresh air on the beach (the air-con is stuffy!)
- Give yourself time to rest
Seeker will be back exhibiting at brightonSEO in April 2024, so come and say “hello” – we love to talk about all things SEO, content marketing and digital PR. We’ll send you off with a handful of sweet treats and some Polaroids to remember the event!