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Searchfest 2009 Recap

In my best Joey Lawrence voice,… “Whoa!” Talk about a great search engine marketing conference. Big props to the SEMPDX crew for putting together such a top quality event. Though it’s a six hour drive from Spokane to Portland, I’m going to join so that I can go to their monthly meetings and talk with the very talented search folks in P-Town (and check out a Blazer game or two). If you are an SEO anywhere near Portland, it’s a no-brainer to join SEMPDX. OK, now for my brief recap. I’m keeping this one short as I’ll be writing more detailed posts on topics over the next few days.

Keynote: Danny Sullivan
Danny was entertaining as always, with a great blend of technical insight, industry experience, and humor.  The format of his presentation was largely driven by audience questions generated prior to the event. The majority seemed to come from Cecily Stout, a great SEO out of Fort Collins, Colorado.  I always enjoy talking with her at conferences.  One of his more interesting points, in my opinion, was the way he broke out social media into several different categories.  I’ve personally felt that there are so many different types of social media that it never really made sense to lump them all together.  However, this was the first time I’d seen someone really break them apart into more logical categories.  It will really help in my discussions with clients.

Local Search: Mary Bowling, Matt McGee, David Mihm, Greg Hartnet

David really did a great job in putting this session together.  In fact, I found out later that day that he had a big part in getting the A-List SEO line-up for the conference in general. Nice work! I found the local search session to be one of the most valuable of the day. It provided great content and balance for both agency search marketers and in-house folks. Here are a few high notes:

Matt McGee really got me thinking about, neigh,… planning to join his hyperlocal blogger army. His presentation included the only true case study-esque data of the day, which I appreciate. The crux of his hyperlocal blogging presentation is that if we can believe all the news articles about traditional media dying off, there is a huge opportunity for marketers to present valuable local information to the community and benefit from the additional traffic. He provided some really great data and insight. I’m planning on writing more about his presentation in the next few days.

Then Mary Bowling rocked the house. I’ve seen her present three times now. Every time she presents I can’t help but think “What could possibly be left to talk about?” She just lays it out there. Examples, tactics, strategies, specific advice, etc… Her session convinced me to finally look into using hcards. It also showed my how to better use GLBC attributes to better rank outside of your geographic area (but within your service area). This has been a problem for quite some time for clients. I’m looking forward to implementing her suggestions. Thanks, Mary!

Technical On-Site SEO: Susan Moskowa, Vanessa Fox, Aaron Kahlow

I went into the session looking to get three technical questions answered. Not only did I get them answered, I learned a few other details in the process. Here are my three take-aways from this session.

1) Use webmaster tools more than you do. There’s always a tendency (at least for me) to use other tools first. Their demonstration of questions that can be solved within Google Webmaster Tools quickly reminded me that I should be using it more.

2) Submit both XML and HTML sitemaps to Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Many people (myself included) are a bit too Google-focused. Sure, it’s by far the dominant player, but do you really want to ignore 20%-30% of the remaining search traffic out there.

3) Bookmark Vanessa Fox’s Jane and Robot web site and go there often. After nearly every technical question that she answered, Vanessa followed the answer with “There’s an example/code/case study/etc. on www.janeandrobot.com.” I checked it out when I got home. It’s awesome! Take a look for yourself.

The big downside of attending at multi-track conference is that you are bound to miss some great presentations. Fortunately, Rebecca from SEOmoz was on the other side of the divider wall and put together an amazing summary of the presentations I missed.

Well, that’s probably enough for one post. I’ll separate my re-cap into three posts and then delve into a few more details. All in all, a great event. For those who missed, I’d definitely check it out next year.

Off to Searchfest!

I’m incredibly excited to be heading off to Searchfest today. This is one action-packed-bang-for-the-buck search engine marketing conference. Portland really has a tight SEO community and is really getting a strong reputation in the industry. They have really brought in the talent. The only downside is that there is so much great content that I’m going to miss some really amazing presentations, as they have two concurrent tracks.  In fact, I still haven’t decided if I’m going to attend “How to Grow Your SEM Biz” session or “SEO Tips from the Trenches.” It’s just a great agenda.  There’s also the Danny Sullivan wildcard.  You just never know where he’ll go during his keynote, but it’s always interesting and entertaining.  I’ll be coming back with some of the latest and greatest SEO strategies and techniques. I can’t wait to tell you about it.