Several BuzzShifters went to Las Vegas for Pubcon 2013. They haven’t all disclosed exactly what they did while in Vegas, but they did bring back some useful insights from the conference itself.

Here Michael, Mark, and Will share some of their thoughts about the value of Pubcon, and what they gained from the experience.

From Michael Stancil, Director of Search:

Pubcon, it’s definitely one of those conferences you HAVE to go to at least once in your life if you’re in the search/content industry, there’s just so much to learn. This is my second year that I’ve gone to Pubcon Vegas, and I can say with 100% assurance that I’ll definitely be back next year!

My first year was more about taking in the entire Pubcon experience, and trying to go to as many relevant sessions as possible within the confines of a day. Additionally, Pubcon is a great time to actually hear all of the well-known industry bloggers….speak.

While I learned a lot last year, this year was all about being more targeted, and going to the sessions that really mattered to what I do, or had curiosities about. Luckily, I was able to go to a session for every available slot on each day, so I’d consider that a win. As for my focus this year? Paid Search, Display Advertising, and SEO Audits; pretty focused, I’d say.

Did it work? Did I learn something? Indeed I did. The biggest thing is with SEO, while there are “over-arching” principles, everyone has a little bit different way of doing things. Learning from those and adding them to your own skill set, especially when it comes to SEO audits, translates to better results for your clients—which means happy clients, and subsequently a happy agency. With regards to paid search and display, Brad Geddes is a walking AdWords information mine, and I’ve never left one of his sessions without learning something new.

My verdict? Another successful year, especially given the fact that I’m still digesting what I learned, and it’s been a week since I’ve been back. The best part is that you get the presentation decks, and as long as you paid attention in the session, it’s a great resource after the fact! So if you’re on the fence about a search conference to go to, Pubcon should definitely be that conference, in addition to the State of Search conference in Dallas, because two conferences a year is good for you!

From Mark Barrera, Chief Search Officer:

As always, I enjoyed my time at Pubcon. This year definitely had a different feel with the vast changes coming from Google over the last 12 months. The good news is that these changes have allowed us SEOs to focus on the real things that matter in marketing. Content, brand building, and staying away from ‘search engine trickery’ are all things that were emphasized, and rightfully so. For so long SEOs have been able to game the system, but now it all comes down to the assets you produce and how you promote them.

From Will Edmonson, Search Analyst:

Pubcon was my first search marketing conference (I’ve been to SXSWi but that covers a broader spectrum), and I found it both refreshing and inspiring to meet with people who do the same kind of work as I do on a daily basis, and more importantly, run into the same struggles and problems that search marketing can bring. For example, take WordPress itself. If there isn’t one already, there could be a whole conference about WordPress and how to do SEO on that platform. But at Pubcon I was able to attend two talks centered solely around using WordPress, and not on a basic level, but from experts who had a lot to offer concerning ways to improve how I use the platform. Anyway, I digress.

Here are a few insights from the  conference:

  • With Penguin rolling through, search marketing is starting to scoot closer to content marketing. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise for anyone.
  • Link building will have to become more personal, more diplomatic with other websites (read: harder work but hey, it’ll be less monotonous), and less focused on directories. Again, no surprise.
  • Google will rank higher personal profiles and content from people it knows as real people. This means author profiles, rel=author tags, etc. The days of internet anonymity are over. Create a personal brand and a content matrix of topics around your name. You’re a brand interacting with other brands now.
  • In-house SEOs live a much different life than agency SEOs. The challenges are different and those two kinds of SEOs need to be aware of what it’s like doing search marketing in those environments to better communicate and work together.
  • If you’re an SEO who hasn’t gone to a conference, you need to convince your boss that you need to go. It’ll keep you sharp and inspire you to grow in areas where you might have blind spots, and it’ll help you get on board future trends.
  • Vegas is a special place. Don’t plan on getting a lot of sleep or doing a lot of outdoorsy stuff while you’re there. Also, if you’re an introvert, this may not be the best town for you.

 

Five insights should be plenty. Best of luck, SEOs.

Up next: State of Search, on Monday, November 18 right here in Dallas. If you’re there, check out both Mark and Michael’s presentations.