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November 24, 2008

PubCon 2008 Conference

By Chris Phillips

Pubcon-08-vegas Two of my fellow co-workers and I attended PubCon last week in Las Vegas, NY. It was my first time at PubCon, and my first trip to Las Vegas.

The Conference:
PubCon was a good time. It was set up to have several tracks you could attend so people of all levels and backgrounds (SEO, PPC, Webmasters, Online Sales etc.) had something to attend. Some time slots had several sessions that seemed interesting so it was hard to decide which session to attend. By day two I started going to the sessions that had the speakers I wanted to hear, and that seemed to work the best for me.

Some speaker’s presentations were a little too much like a sales pitch for my liking, but most speakers did a good job of presenting good information for the audience. Hopefully next year they will fix the Wi-Fi problem (for some reason the conference only supported 100 users at a time).

I found it interesting that there were several points of view sometimes between speakers on the same topic, which made it interesting. For example, Li Evans presented on how Barack Obama leveraged social media to win the election, and another speaker presented how John McCain’s link building efforts were successful, even if he didn’t win the election. No matter what your political view is, the fact remains that more and more of the general public is now becoming aware of the online community and how much of an impact it can have.

There were a lot of great people at the conference, some big SEO names, Greg Boser, Matt Cutts, Li Evans, Neil Patel, Barry Schwartz, Vanessa Fox, and some other big names from the 3 major search engines… (too many to list here). I really enjoyed meeting and socializing with other internet professionals.

Pubcon-08-vegas-2 My Takeaway:
I felt most of the speakers of PubCon seemed to speak in line with the general consensus by search marketing professionals: The internet is changing faster than ever. It seemed most speakers agreed we have moved away from just tracking rankings and moved towards quantifiable goals, conversions, etc.

Universal search has changed the search landscape already, and all aspects of universal search need to be addressed to fully take advantage of online opportunities. Social media continues to play a larger role in the search landscape year after year. Businesses and corporations need learn how to be accepted in these online social groups (not try to force their way in) in order to fully take advantage of social media. Successful social media campaigns can send several times the amount (and quality) of traffic to a website at the fraction of the cost of PPC or other types of advertising.

SEO and link building is still necessary, and is a key foundation to get your website to perform at its best. Tracking rankings has become a less effective way to measure success because search engines have incorporated local search features that display different results based on where an internet user is located, what else they are searching for, and more.


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I got interesting new info on e-commerce from this year's PubCon and realized that we can all learn something from the pros in that niche. However, it was Social Media that rocked Las Vegas in 2008. The room for that track was packed for every session!

Thanks for sharing your insights from PubCon 2008. I didn't really realize that the McCain camp was engaged in link-building. I would love to read more on that.

Other than that I agree, search is changing. Should be interesting to see where things wind up.

Interesting point on the importance of local. I think we all saw the social media thing coming. I think people still under appreciate the power of local.

Also - On the conversion points - yes. I think this becomes an even bigger issue in 2009 as conversions drop as a function of the economy, having nothing to do with the SERP or site construction. There are other forces at play in the consumer behavior that have not been entirely considered by the SEO community to the extent needed.

The importance of local is not what I am after and am sure many more think in the same line. After all, the Internet is supposed to be Global and with the ability to reach far and wide audience for your site and niche.

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