A Global Hangout: Why The Raleigh SEO Meetup Is the World’s Best

 In Musings, Trends

Since moving to Charlotte last summer, I have been fixated on creating a Meetup Group that revolves around teaching SMBs how to generate leads and increase revenues through various Online Marketing strategies. This idea stemmed from having multiple conversations with business owners who expressed how complicated and time consuming digital marketing had become. Due to a lack of guidance, they often times were unsure where to start, who to trust, and what sort of help to even ask for.

This led to my desire to create a community of online marketing experts that provided business owners with simplified, actionable tactics that would give them the best return on their marketing efforts. Before I jumped into things, I wanted to understand the drivers behind the most popular and successful Meetup Groups in the area in order to create the best experience for future members. What I found was a Meetup Group that blew every group that I had previously attended out of the water, and by a good margin.

Raleigh SEO Meetup Group Image

I first became aware of the Raleigh SEO Meetup a few years back at an Advanced SEO Training Course (highly recommend this, it sparked my career) when a group of women insisted I join the group despite the fact I lived hundreds of miles away. Reason being, the information provided within the Meetup site itself was that good…The Raleigh SEO Meetup group has dubbed itself as, “The Most Successful SEO Meetup in the United States”, but I disagree. I’m convinced this has to be the best Meetup group in the world; and I’m talking about every vertical – not just digital marketing.

It’s no mystery as to why they have averaged 200+ participants per event since the start of the year. Lets take a closer look at how Raleigh SEO became the powerhouse it is today, and why their events have increased in popularity year over year.


The Founder and Heir Of The Raleigh SEO Meetup


Raleigh SEO Founder

Group Founder

Ashley Berman Hale founded the Raleigh SEO Meetup group in 2008, fueled by her desire to help business owners utilize the power of the Internet to grow their business. Ashley used the group as a catalyst to give back to the community, always stressing the importance of making her group free for all attendees – a true digital marketing philanthropist. At a time when SEO was primarily about gaming the algorithms and increasing rankings, Ashley approached SEO as a means of supplementing a larger strategy that focused on business development and usability the whitehat way. This set the foundation and principles that are still present in the group today.


Phil Buckley Raleigh SEO Leader

Group Leader


In 2011, Ashley moved to Colorado and handed the group over to her assistant organizer at the time, Phil Buckley (@1918), another SEO veteran and online marketing rock star. Phil brings a wealth of digital marketing knowledge to the group, having worked in the industry since 1996. His passion is evident, and he utilizes his connections well to bring added value to the group whenever possible.


 6 reasons the Raleigh SEO Meetup events are so awesome: 

  1. The event I attended was in Raleigh, NC but I was sitting at my dinner table in Charlotte, NC. Reason being, they recently implemented the ability to join each event via Google+ Hangouts on Air, making this a Meetup with no boundaries and quite possibly the first of its kind. In regards to this new medium for interaction Phil stated, “By offering the Raleigh SEO Meetup via Google Hangouts on Air, we are no longer just tethered to Raleigh. I want to basically make the Raleigh SEO Meetup become THE SEO Meetup where people tune in every month like people tune in to Rand’s Whiteboard Friday’s. 
  2. The events often feature various experts on a particular topic that provide participants with highly informative and valuable information – novices to senior marketers could benefit. Yes, I said senior marketers.
  3. There’s nothing I hate more than attending a Meetup event where all I hear is a sales pitch. That certainly is not the case here.
  4. The events are well organized, in good locations, and provide participants with actionable advice they can actually use. Each month, 10-20 hours are spent prepping for the event: lining up quality speakers, assuring good slides, and almost always creating printed (and downloadable) handouts for people to take away with them.
  5. Phil and the experts make digital marketing FUN, and provide a laid-back atmosphere that is conducive to learning. There is no intimidation factor, which is often a hindrance at some of these events.
  6. The events are FREE. Group sponsors have made it possible for members to currently attend at no cost, I would like to extend a universal THANK YOU!

Recap of Raleigh SEO’s most recent event on Content Marketing 


As mentioned above, I was able to “attend” the event from the comfort of my own home, along with 54 other virtual attendees. I was quite surprised when I realized Phil would be moderating the discussion from a La Quinta Inn in Dallas, and content marketing expert Casie Gillete would be giving her presentation from Boston to over 200 group members in Raleigh via a large monitor. Other than some minor sound issues, the event ran very smoothly.  Yes folks, the digital age is upon us.

Raleigh SEO Meetup on Google+ Hangouts

Marty Smith Presenting To A Local & Virtual Audience

The two other speakers physically in Raleigh were Martin Smith, Marketing Director for Atlantic BT, and Amy Lewis, Community Evangelist for Data Center Virtualization at Cisco.

The guest presenters did a magnificent job of relaying valuable information on content marketing from all their years of experience – it was refreshing to see the raw emotions displayed during each presentation. Phil and Martin were absolutely hilarious; I found myself laughing alone at my dinner table many times while my dog stared at me inquisitively, such is life.

As weird as this sounds, I felt like I was a part of something special.

As Phil described in a later interview, “I would say that the March Content Marketing event was one of our best ever. The 3 presenters all brought their A game and really poured out their passion and that’s why people connect to this Meetup group.” 

What to Expect From The Raleigh SEO Meetup: 

Here are some key takeaways from each guest speaker in regards to content marketing:


Marty Smith Online Marketing Expert

Marty Smith






Martin Smith (@ScentTrail): 

  • The reach of curated content is much greater than the content created by the business owner. It’s all about the “shares.”
  • From his experience he recommends that you should use curated content 90% of the time, and generate your own content 10% of the time.
  • He never invests in creating content unless “it is proven and has legs.” He does this by testing it on sites such as scoop.it.com . Martin created an awesome Content Marketing Matrix that can be summarized by the following: The more “now” or trending a topic is, the more valuable it will be and the greater it will convert.
  • • The way Google’s algorithm is today, a conversion could be that that visitor stayed X minutes on the site (Content KPI – how long they were on the site, bounce rate, # of pages viewed). But X should always increase at a reasonable rate. “The key…is KNOW your baseline heuristic KPIs and watch them like a hawk…If those trend down, Google will not give you love.” Ideally speaking, you want steady, incremental improvements in Content KPI, drastic changes in either direction may lower rankings.
  • • “Why create your own content when others can create it for you – become the community that people want to join. People don’t buy brands they join them. You have to tell amazing stories people want to share.”
Casie Gillete Director Of Online Marketing

Casie Gillete






Casieg Gillete (@Casieg): 

  • “Content is for Search, branding, and authorship”
  • Casie highly recommends the Edit Flow plugin from WordPress which empowers you to collaborate with your editorial team within the platform
  • Don’t assume that a particular page you optimized with specific keywords is the one that is ranking highest for that term
  • Incentivize website visitors to engage with your content by offering them something of value.
  • There was a minor sound issue during the end of her presentation so I wasn’t able to capture it all!
Amy Lewis

Amy Lewis






Amy Lewis (@Commsninja):

  • Alluding to her podcast, Engineers Unplugged, Lewis stressed the importance of improvisation as a way to produce content that is fun and easy to relate to. Improved content has a flair to it that makes it creative, spontaneous, and fun.
  • “People typically don’t like to share videos on topics like engineering, but by bringing in a more human element of well-spirited debate, this content appeals to a wider margin of viewers.”
  • The topic of curation was discussed several times over the evening. It was clear to viewers that if content is king, then curation is queen. Great content is useless if no one sees it. Amy discussed the importance of curation before taking one step further.
  • Amy suggested two great strategies to increase content amplification immediately. One is to add some people to your content. Everyone likes to see their name in lights, and people are more likely to view and share content that features them in some way. Use this tactic to get rock-star influencers on your side. “Make heroes out of the brave, don’t water horses.”

To sum it all up, the Raleigh SEO Meetup is simply awesome. If you are in the Triangle area and are looking to learn from true experts on different aspects of online marketing that actually matter to your business, attending is a must. For the rest of the world that’s not in the Triangle area, I’ll see you at the next event on Google+ Hangouts on Air.

Now that I have discovered the epitome of what a Meetup group should be, I would like to officially announce the launch of the, Inbound Marketing for Business Professionals Meetup Group in Charlotte, NC. We here at PlazaBridge group are looking to bring the same quality and expertise discussed today to the business professionals of the Queen City. If you, or anyone you know in the Charlotte area could benefit from learning how to effectively generate leads and increase revenues online at no cost to members, join our group today – we are here to help! Why are we confident we can help? PlazaBridge Group is a boutique consulting firm with a long track record of success in growing top-line revenue for a diverse set of businesses & corporations throughout the world; you can view our most recent case studies here and here.

Plazabridge GroupA Special PlazaBridge Group Announcement: 

 As most of you are aware there has been a fundamental shift in the way buying decisions are being made today, with the Internet being the driving force behind this change. I have witnessed too many SMB owners struggle to generate new business with an old school mindset – which is understandably hard to change as certain marketing tactics that were successful for decades are now considered budget burners. Which is why…

In conjunction with the launch of our Meetup Group, for the next 24 hours only we are offering business owners from around the country a FREE detailed Website Audit with recommendations for improvement valued $300. We are providing this offer as an incentive for business owners to take a step back, ask the right questions, and reposition their business for long-term success if need be. Click here now to sign up for your FREE Website Audit.

Please “Like” or “Share” this post to help us get the word out about the exciting things happening in the Triangle and beyond. I urge you to sound off in the comment section below or continue the conversation elsewhere using #RaleighSEO. Message me at Anthony@Plazabridgegroup.com if you have any further questions.


Till next time….

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Anthony Will

Director of Digital Marketing Strategies

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