Conferences play a disproportionately large role in internet marketing in general and SEO specifically. The main for this is that it’s a fairly small industry, so connections and networking matter more than most. Attending conferences is a great way to get in front of potential clients and industry peers to share your services and develop mutually-beneficial relationships.
They’re also critical for staying on top of the latest trends, tips, and strategies to increase organic search traffic. So, what are some of the industry’s must-attend events? Here are fourteen essential SEO conferences and how attending can give you an edge on your competition.
Conference: SMX Advanced
How It Helps Your Biz: While many SEO Conferences are geared towards internet marketing professionals who are just starting out in the industry, SMX Advanced is not. The audience for this conference is comprised of experienced internet marketing professionals, so there’s no need to worry about struggling through basic SEO sessions structured for industry newbies.
SMX Advanced provides an effective outlet for like-minded people to connect and discuss the latest trends in the search marketing world. It’s a great place to learn and make connections with others in the industry that are at a similar point in their professional careers.
Sessions move quickly, emphasize Q&A, and feature industry leaders like Google’s Matt Cutts. The conference’s agenda includes influencing the direction of the search industry, so it’s a useful place to make connections if you want to step into a thought-leadership role. Finally, SMX Advanced offers networking sessions and advanced tactical workshops to round out your SEO toolkit.
Dates, Location: June 11-12, 2013, Seattle, Washington
Conference: Conversion Conference
How It Helps Your Biz: The Conversion Conference gets straight down to business, into the nitty-gritty details of actually converting customers. Getting your business found online is obviously a crucial part of the sales process, but if your traffic isn’t converting then it’s useless. You may be great at SEO, but if your sales record is dismal, it’s essential that you make the time to attend this year’s Conversion Conference.
It will help you to improve your conversions and your bottom line. The conference offers an intro workshop for learning the beginning aspects of conversion theory. More advanced workshops include content development, search intent markers, sales funnel development, lead gen and nurturing technology, and much more. The conference happens in four locations each year, making it easy to participate.
Dates, Location: June 11-13, 2013, Chicago, Illinois
September 30-October 2, 2013, Boston, Massachusetts
October 24-25, 2013, London, United Kingdom
November 4-5, 2013, Berlin, Germany
Conference: SES Conference & Expo
How It Helps Your Biz: SES Conference & Expo is the largest and most popular industry event in digital marketing. If you are hoping to make connections with some of the key players in the SEO industry, don’t miss this one. Typically, the SES conference program includes some basic sessions for industry beginners, but there are also a number of sessions for experienced internet marketers that cover some of the latest trends in the industry.
As with any event this size, be sure to review the program to determine which sessions you’d benefit from the most. Specific focus is paid to both the search and social media marketing sides. Conference organizers make an effort to include consultants and practitioners, along with reps from the search engines, for a holistic conversation. Speakers are encouraged to focus on case studies, high level strategies, and tactics that can be implemented right away by attendees.
June 12-14, 2013, Toronto, Canada
September 10-13, 2013, San Francisco, California
September 16-18, 2013, Hong Kong
October 9-10, 2013, Berlin, Germany
November 4-7, 2013, Chicago, Illinois
How It Helps Your Biz: Moz is home to some of the most knowledgeable leaders in the SEO industry. And MozCon is a great opportunity to network with them and other like-minded professionals. MozCon is geared towards experienced digital marketers and goes way beyond the basics of SEO. The goal of this conference is to arm you with strategies and tactics that you can use to improve your business and your conversions.
This year’s MozCon includes an agenda that spans SEO, social media, marketing analytics, content strategy, data science and more. Specific Sessions range from “The Mobile Content Mandate” to “How Gender and Cultural Differences in Web Psychology Affect Customer Behavior.” It’s a good mix of meaty analytical sessions and hands-on tactical advancement.
July 8-10, 2013, Seattle, Washington
Conference: SearchLove Conference
How It Helps Your Biz: The SearchLove Conference is highly popular among industry leaders. And don’t worry, there’s no wasting time on search basics here. Those attending SearchLove can expect to learn about the most effective industry trends, and take away actionable information for their business.
It’s also a great place to network with other SEO professionals, and discuss some hot topics in the industry at the conference’s popular topic tables. Sessions are geared toward SEOs, managers, and business owners. Topics range from DIY data-driven content development to scalable outreach and the future of search.
September 5-6, 2013, San Diego, California
Conference: Content Marketing World
How It Helps Your Biz: Content strategy is at the forefront of SEO and search efforts this year, and that’s not changing anytime soon. Though this conference is not specifically geared toward SEO professionals, it’s still an important one to attend. It covers all aspects of content marketing from the basics, to advanced email marketing, identifying your target audiences, and making sales.
If you work with clients in specific verticals, pay attention to sessions geared towards professionals in industries such as health, technology, small business, and finance. Content Marketing World is attended by a number of big brands, and it can be a great way to meet decision makers at companies like Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Cisco. Specific workshops include building your agency, content strategy for non-profits, and building advanced buyer personas.
September 9-11, 2013, Cleveland, Ohio
How It Helps Your Biz: Geared toward social media and search marketing professionals, PubCon is a worthwhile conference that’s focused on the future of technology. They offer a full-day intensive SEO training that is geared toward experienced SEO marketers. The smaller group training gives you a chance to engage with some of the key players in the SEO industry.
This is another great choice if you’re looking to expand your professional network and learn more about the industry’s latest trends. It’s a week-long event with 200 speakers in more than 130 sessions. The exposure to the scale of speakers and expertise – along with the networking options – make this a good investment. Forbes named this conference a must-attend event.
October 21-25, 2013, Las Vegas, Nevada
Conference: Interactivity Digital
How It Helps Your Biz: Though it’s not specifically designed for SEO professionals, this conference offers a few sessions geared toward search engine optimization. The real value here is being able to connect with and learn from others in the digital marketing industry. You will be able to pick up some highly valuable tips both related to SEO and online marketing.
This is a smaller conference that focuses on the biggest trends of the year. This year’s agenda included SEO and SEM sessions, email marketing strategy, funnel development, remarketing, link building, and more. It’s a great way to get time with world-class speakers in a more intimate environment.
The 2013 conference has already passed. Dates and location for next year are TBD.
How It Helps Your Biz: As the name suggests, the annual Inbound conference is focused on inbound marketing, an umbrella term that encompasses everything from SEO to social media. If your goal is to improve your knowledge of inbound marketing as a whole, this is the place to be. The conference combines marketing and technology with a bit of fun.
It also gives attendees the opportunity to network with inbound marketing giants such as Seth Godin and Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah of HubSpot. Sponsored by Hubspot, one of the leaders in inbound marketing, the agenda is full of sessions, networking events, and certification courses. If you’re interested in adding Hubspot to the list of services you offer, this is a great way to get up to speed.
August 19-22, 2013, Boston, Massachusetts
Conference: Inbound Marketing Summit
How It Helps Your Biz: Inbound marketing continues to be huge – as evidenced by the sheer number of conferences on the topic. The Inbound Marketing Summit brings together some of the leading professionals in the marketing industry. Again, this conference is not strictly focused on SEO, but IMS is a great conference to attend if you are hoping to connect with like-minded individuals who are interested in the future of digital marketing.
With representation and speakers from Hill Holiday, Hubspot, and Forbes, this conference is geared toward agency teams, creative execs, and CMOs. Sessions are divided into strategy, content, and tools segments – so it’s easy to hone in on the level of detail and expertise that’s right for you. In addition to the San Francisco event, the same conference brand also hosts events in Boston and New York City.
July 30-31, 2013, San Francisco, California
How It Helps Your Biz: BlogHer is a network for (primarily) women bloggers and entrepreneurs to come together, network, build relationships, and share best practices. The resulting brand, community, and conference franchise is truly impressive. This year’s conference lineup includes both BlogHer 2013 and a specialized food blogger conference.
The 2013 main event brings together bloggers, companies, and digital professionals. Everyone is invited to attend; the event organizers estimate that 10 to 15% of the attendees are men. Sessions cover everything from improving blog writing, to SEO strategies, to blog monetization approaches. It’s an especially powerful event to attend if you want to network with “Mommy bloggers” and writers active in women-focused niches such as DIY, family, and home topics.
Dates, Location: Chicago, Illinois July 25 – July 27, 2013
Conference: eMetrics Summit
How It Helps Your Biz: The International eMetrics Summit conferences occupy a unique niche in the marketing world. These conferences focus on the specific angle of big data and metrics across digital and marketing initiatives. As the leading conference covering the impact of data & technology on marketing, eMetrics Summit focuses on driving business results through data analysis and technology adoption.
Sessions take a closer look at technology, case studies, and strategic trends in the measurement space. The audience is a mix of IT and marketing professionals, and there’s good representation from big and recognizable brands. If you feel that your ability to measure ROI and communicate that to your clients and colleagues could improve, this is an important conference to add to your list.
Dates, Location: Chicago (June 10 – 13, 2013), Sydney (June 25 – 16), Boston (September 29 – October 3), and Stockholm (October 14 – 15)
How It Helps Your Biz: BlogWorld was one of the foundational conferences in the SEO and online marketing world. Rebranded as NMX or the New Media Expo, it’s coming this January to Las Vegas. With different tracks for blogging, podcasting, web TV and business, it’s possible to take a deep dive into the areas that interest you.
Sessions range from introductory level sessions to overviews of the latest trends. A mix of workshops, panels, and keynotes, it’s possible to cover a lot of ground here. It’s one of the largest conferences, and their tradeshow is a good way to meet reps from different digital brands in a consolidated fashion.
Dates, Location: January 4 – 6, 2014 Las Vegas, NV
Conference: South by Southwest Interactive
How It Helps Your Biz: South by Southwest is a major annual event in Austin, Texas that’s divided into three sections: music, film, and interactive. Interactive has a devoted following and you’ll meet everyone from productivity gurus to startup celebs. Brands launch products every year at Interactive, and some of the craziest campaigns in the industry are showcased.
Sessions range from deeply useful and tactical, to thought provoking. One of the major benefits of SXSW is blending interactive with other areas of interest, along with the chance to network. This is a conference that will expand your professional circle and introduce you to new potential clients.
Dates, Location: March 7 – 11, 2014; Austin, TX
Attending conferences in this industry is key – but with so many events, you could spend your whole year networking and learning. Do you have a favorite event in addition to the ones I outlined above? Let me know in the comments below!