BrightonSEO – From Back Street Pub to the Brighton Dome!

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It has fast become the biggest search conference in Europe (in 2012), BrightonSEO has come a long way since it’s first meeting in a local pub. BrightonSEO, organised by Kelvin Newman and his team have done an amazing job to continue to improve and better the last conference.

In the past few weeks Kelvin has moved to predominantly event organising including both BrightonSEO and The Content Marketing Show, alongside his recruitment job-board.

In between organising BrightonSEO, The Content Marketing Show, running the Job-board and continuing his work at SiteVisibility, I managed to ask him a few questions.

Daniel: How did BrightonSEO start?

Kelvin: It’s really a happy accident, a few search people had met up in a pub for a drink and we thought ‘if we arrange a couple of presentations we could go down the pub earlier. ‘ when we had to turn people away at the door of that event we thought we might be on to something but the growth of the event has just blown us away. For the upcoming event in April we’re expecting 2000 people along.

Daniel: What were your expectations when you started out with BrightonSEO?

Kelvin: I didn’t really have any huge expectations with the first event, my main aim was to make sure a few people came along so I wasn’t sat in the pub on my own. As times moved on I have started to set myself goals for the event; one of the big landmarks was becoming the biggest event dedicated to search in the UK, which by our reckoning, we achieved with the last event. Now our big aim is how can we consistently provide great talks you just wouldn’t get at any other event, and ideally do that with a greater variety of speakers than other SEO conferences.

Daniel: Tickets for BrightonSEO, always sell out very quickly. How quickly did they go this year?

Kelvin: They were all gone in under six hours which really impressed me, last time we had 1300 registrations from the general ticket release, this time we had 2000. I do wonder if we’ll ever hit the limit or people interested in Search in the UK!

Daniel: Last years BrightonSEO was heavily focused on content. What can we expect to see at BrightonSEO this time around?

Kelvin: We’ve spun out the Content Marketing Show as an event in it’s own right now which inevitably mean some of the talks we might have programmed for BrightonSEO we’ll hold back for that event. If there’s a theme to the upcoming event it’s either the increased micro-specialisms of search like Video/Mobile/Local etc. or about the business of SEO, covering challenges like scale, managing clients that sort of thing.

Daniel: You always get some great speakers at BrightonSEO. What do you look for in a speaker for your event?

Kelvin: A real passion for topic is a great start, I pick people who’ve demonstrated expertise in the past in talks at previous events, written great blogposts or put together podcasts or similar. We also ask after every event who people want us to programme, and once we’ve filtered out all the suggestions for Matt Cutts and Seth Godin we normally have a good hit list of people to approach.

We don’t really have a ‘call for speakers’ as I think that tends to attract the ‘usual suspects’ who speak at every event. That doesn’t mean they aren’t excellent but it does mean they’re not as original or compelling as some of the other speakers out there.

Daniel: BrightonSEO has become one of the leading SEO conferences in the UK in a very short period of time. Where do you see the conference in 5 years time?

Kelvin: In five years time we better have hover boards! Joking aside we want to take BrightonSEO from strength to strength and really make the training course element of it the best in the industry. I’ll be spending quite a bit of time on our job board, I’d like the Content Marketing Show to be as big as BrightonSEO and look at launching some new events.

They might be based on specific verticals, other disciplines or maybe even different geographies. We’ve got lots of ideas just need a few sponsors interested on going on the journey with us!

Thanks Kelvin

Have you been to BrightonSEO? What are your thoughts on the conference and how it has evolved? What are your thoughts on the current speaker list, and who would you like to see speak? What would you like to see at future events? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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