Today's post is from guest author Taylor Pratt of Gonzo SEO. In the post to follow, Taylor has provided a recap of last week's PubCon conference, and has highlighted his favorite sessions, the biggest take-a-ways, and a few of the areas that need improvement.
I'm finally home after attending an amazing conference. I've only been to three conferences in my young career, but this year's Pubcon was the best. Not only was there a lot to learn, but the people I met were awesome. It's amazing what a few drinks can do!
Instead of going session by session, I thought I'd wrap up Pubcon 2007 a different way. If you want even more detail about the sessions, head over to the Bruce Clay blog or Search Engine Roundtable to read great right-ups by Lisa and Tamar.
Top 5 Sessions
Social Media 101: the Playing Field
If having an all star panel wasn't enough, I have to give Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz credit: he gave an awesome presentation. Rand, one of the most entertaining speakers, outlined 20 places to get live links in the social media world, 20 domains with strong profile rankings (for reputation management), and 12 unique sites to promote your social media content. At Rand's request, I can't publish them. Sorry guys and gals.
Michael Gray, aka Graywolf, gave great tips on writing content for Social Media. I had the pleasure of hearing Graywolf speak on many panels, and he has a gift for social media content. Some of his great tips, included:
- Write short, easy to read, scannable content
- Include eye-catching images above the fold
- Use a calendar and current events when creating linkbait
Site Reviews with Rae Hoffman and Dixon Jones
I have had the pleasure of attending multiple site reviews with these two, and each of them have been fantastic. Although Rae is often wrongly accused of being to harsh, I think they provide great analysis and fantastic advice for all in the audience. I work on a lot of audits for clients, and it was great to see how these two could perform a well thought out one in only five minutes.
Site Reviews: Focus on Social Media
This site review had a social media all star panel. We were able to pick the brains of Tamar Weinberg, Todd Malicoat, Brent Csutoras, Rebecca Kelley, and Michael Gray. They reviewed many difficult sites to create link bait for, and were able to create multiple great ideas for each of them. They also shared a number of great tips as well:
- They talked to us about their favorite link baiting hooks, and gave a tip or two on how to be successful with them (i.e. provide a unique solution when using the attack hook to reinforce your argument).
- Don't overlook the social media site mixx.com
- When using a video to promote social media, keeping the length of the video under a minute works best. However, if you need to go longer, make sure the first 30 seconds are amazing.
Start-up Costs: Getting in the Video Game
This was a very informative session, especially for me because I'm working hard at getting into the online video world (you should too.) The entire panel for this session was great, but one presentation really stood out: Robin Liss of camcorderinfo.com told us everything we needed to know about entering the video world. From tips on which equipment is best, to the most important dos and don'ts, her presentation rocked! Best tips:
- Remember: half of the video is audio! Don't overlook the power of having good sound.
- The most important accessory is the tripod - no one likes a shaky video.
- If you plan on editing your video, tape and HDV cameras are the best to use (instead of hard drive and DVD camcorders).
Search and Blogging Reporters Forum
What made this panel so interesting was that it was pretty much an open floor. You could ask this panel of industry experts just about anything. The panel included Rand Fishkin, Michael McDonald, Lee Odden, and Andy Beal. I asked the panel whether or not it was a good idea to allow comments on a new blog. In my opinion it can hurt your creditability to see 0 comments on every post. Rand said that he has done this before, and it isn't a bad idea. Build up an audience and then turn them on. Alternatively, he said you could get some friends to make sure they comment regularly on the blog to start up the conversation.
Biggest Complaints About Pubcon
As great as Pubcon was, there were still some improvements that could be made:
- Lack of Wifi. For the first two days of the conference there was very limited connectivity. It wasn't until the last day of sessions that we were able to have a connection in every room.
- No water in the morning. The breakfast selection was nice, but after being at the Pub all night: I need to hydrate!
- Lack of time in between sessions. At most we would have 5 minutes to get to the next session. This left very little time for restroom breaks, to find a place with internet, and to socialize between sessions.
- A small exhibit hall. Brett said it was one of the largest he has ever had, but...I've seen bigger.
The biggest issue of any conference is the lack of public parties for everyone to get together. While I didn't get to attend the Microsoft private party or anything like that, I felt there were still a lot of opportunities to socialize with other people. SEOmoz setup a Werewolf game for everyone to play following the public Google party. Once a few of us turned it into a drinking game, it was even more fun (I'm the guy in the Google hat)!
Another favorite event of mine was the first annual SEO Texas Holdem Tournament. This was an awesome night, filled with about 90 entrants and free drinks - after a $200 buy in (some of which went to charity). I ended up finishing in 10th place, 1 place out of the money. It was a great opportunity to network and take advantage of being in Las Vegas.
The best advice I can give anyone who attends a conference: remember, there are many people in this industry who are extremely knowledgeable - and you probably haven't heard of them. In other words, don't hesitate to talk to someone just because they aren't a guru. There are a number of great people in this industry who you haven't even heard of.
Overall, I really enjoyed the conference and meeting a bunch of new people.