So, as my loyal fans will know - I was over at Manchester this weekend for an SEO social gathering. Well, here's the lowdown for anyone who wants to read!
So I arrived about 7 on Friday night at the Britannia hotel and wondered down to the hotel bar only to realise that the downside to being relatively new to the industry is that I didn't recognise anyone. Thankfully, Rebecca's comics from SEOmoz have educated me in the subtletys of DaveN's dialect and I easily picked him out stood at the bar being loud. I shamefully introduced myself and admitted that I didn't know anyone and Dave was kind enough to point out who everyone was - thanks Dave! I promptly forgot all the names but then got chatting to Dave and I felt right at home being from Yorkshire I think gives you a certain spin on life which I instantly got on with. He also told me all manner of interesting titbits about Microsoft's plans for (further) world domination.
I then got talking to Simon from Pushon who's Manchester SEO SERPs were suddenly overrun by all our blogs. Sorry Simon! Hope you'll get your rankings back one day ;-)
We then moseyed on over to Sam's chop house for some lovely food, I think at this point it's worth mentioning that Colin (AKA four eyes) did a sterling job of appearing not to have a clue what was going on but at the same time making everything run like clockwork (we didn't get a chance to chat until Sat but nice to meet you as well!). In particular I loved chatting on Sat when you told me all the great ideas you had for promoting your site then took a long swig of beer and finished with 'but that seems like a lot of work, so I'm not going to'. Nice to see you have your priorities straight!
Back at the hotel Fri evening I got chatting with Jason Duke (of general fame) and Denise (from Propellernet) when my eyes got opened to a whole host of black hat ideas I'd never thought of. I'm also humbled to say that most of them were outside of my reach! It was quite an experience speaking with Jason, not just because of how MUCH he talks (a lot!) but also how intelligently he talks. A really nice guy too (even if his tactics for clearing a crowded seat were left of left-field!).
As people got tired and went to bed I got chatting with Ben from Conversion Rate Experts who I recognised when he said he ran a site with a squirrel on it (check the site out for yourself!) and a few other guys who's names I can't recall!
4am and it was time to call Friday a day!
Predictably I didn't get up early on Sat but had a wonder round Manchester and eventually ended up at the pub where everyone was congregating. Again, the firs thing that I realised is that Dave is loud! He showed me photos of the hilton which quite frankly kicks the Britannia's ass.
Saturday afternoon was a much more relaxed affair with I imagine people recovering from Friday night. Still, I met up with a local SEOer called James (who I can't link to since he forgot all his business cards - again, drop me a line or a comment and I'll link over to you!) from Leeds. Next SEO event in Leeds anyone?
I also met up with some cool guys from Isreal who worked in-house for 888.com. I felt a bit bad since I was wearing a Full Tilt t-shirt at the time ;-) no hard feelings guys!
There was a bit of a group discussion about geo-location which I found pretty useful between Colin, myself and Sean Carlos from Antezeta. Sean is based in Italy and had some great ideas and seemed to be enjoying the easy Italian SERPs and living a nice lifestyle. Good work!
Then James and I got chatting with Cheryl and Nicola who work in house for a big financial company. Unfortunately that was about the last time I talked shop for the weekend. Fortunately, Cheryl and Nicola were a riot and were really good fun to hang out with and educated me on the fact that they are in fact the Original SEO Chicks. Sorry girls. Let the catfight begin!
Over an appalling thai meal (I'm not giving them a link due to their poor service) we had a riot and I met Rob aka evilgreenmonkey. Who we tried to persuade to play poker but he was having none of it. Shame on you Rob having worked for Partygaming I would have thought you'd be up for that!
After that it was more drinking in the hotel bar with James, Nicola and Cheryl. Some really good folks there and a good time had by all.
All in all, a fantastic weekend and met some great people. Thanks to Colin and anyone else who helped organise. If there's anyone I've forgotten or if anyone wants to upload some photos (I didn't take a camera so have no evidence of the weekend!) then drop me a note in the comments and I'll link you up. Here's to next time!
edit: I'm still sleepy from the weekend apparently, forgot to mention that I was surprised at the lack of traditional white-hat SEO agencies there (which is the category I'd place myself in I think...) A lot of people seemed to be either one-man bands, in-house SEOers or blacker than black blackhats. Still, as someone pointed out, the north of England is the blackhat hotbed of the world. Turns out it's true!
edit no 2: A few people I'd missed the first time around! Stephen from Boney Toad was one of the guys I met Fri night and Zwart on Sat afternoon. Great to meet both of you guys!