Editor’s Note: This article has been updated for 2016.
Conferences play a disproportionately large role in internet marketing in general and SEO specifically. As the saying goes, it’s a small world, so connections and networking matter. Attending conferences is also 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 ten essential SEO conferences and how attending can give you an edge on your competition.
State of Search
This Dallas-based conference has evolved from a grassroots event into a 2-day marketing event that is attracting attendees from beyond state lines. Sponsored by Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association, State of Search draws industry greats such as Rand Fishkin, search reps from Google, and SEJ’s Brent Csutoras. Emphasis is on local SEO and networking opportunities.
Search Engine Journal’s event series is taglined “By SEOs, For SEOs”. Held in New York, Chicago and Santa Monica, this one day event focusing on big brand SEO features an unusually favorable speaker/attendee ratio (1:18). This means attendees have better and more opportunities to interact with speakers (such as at the speakers’ lunch tables). Typical SEJ Summit speakers are SEO practitioners at big brand companies like Disney, LinkedIn, Google, and Walgreens.
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.
Formerly known as SES, ClickZ has conferences in San Francisco, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. 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.
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.
Mozcon‘s agenda 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.”
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.
Content Marketing World
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.
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.
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.
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!