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Brett Tabke on Pubcon Turning 20, Anger at Google & The Power of Content [PODCAST]

Brett Tabke shares the lessons he's learned from running Pubcon, what's in store for Google and the search industry, and why content still matters.

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“[W]e’re a conference about marketing and we’re constantly learning about marketing in order to market our conference about marketing. It’s a circular reference, which really helps us market the conference better.”

If you’ve been in the SEO or digital marketing space for a while, you’ve probably heard of, read about, or even attended a Pubcon event.

Pubcon Pro, which is held in Las Vegas every fall, is a much-awaited conference that aims to educate, inform, and inspire attendees while networking and having fun.

And we all have to thank Brett Tabke for turning Pubcon into the information-packed and value-filled conference that it is today.

We know Brett as the founder of Pubcon and WebmasterWorld, but he’s actually been running community networking sites continuously since 1984.

In today’s edition of The Search Engine Journal Show, I’ll be talking to Brett Tabke – an SEO pro you definitely need to know better.

About Brett Tabke

Brett Tabke is the Founder and CEO of Pubcon, the longest-running educational conference series in our industry, covering all things search, social, and digital marketing.

He also owns Webmaster World, an online forum, where you’ll find web professionals discussing the latest industry news and developments.

For almost 20 years, Brett and his amazing team at Pubcon have consistently put on an invaluable conference that have helped tens of thousands of SEO professionals and marketers do their jobs better.

And in 2016, his hard work was recognized when he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the U.S. Search Awards.

The secret to creating a loyal, grassroots and organic brand? Brett shares:

“It became clear it was about interaction, it was about community, community, community – serving that community, taking care of that community, being interested in that community, and belonging to that community.”

In this episode, Brett talks about the lessons he’s learned throughout his career, the secret to building loyalty from speakers and attendees, what’s in store for the industry, and more.

Show Notes

  • Brett on what winning the U.S. Search Awards Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 meant to him. [1:39]
  • The highlight of his career? When WebmasterWorld was a PR9 and ranked number one on the SERPs for the keyword [google] on Google (circa 2001). [2:24]
  • “[N]ot everybody’s heard of Pubcon,” Brett shares. About 30% of the people who come to Pubcon every year are exposed to the brand that same year. [3:59]
  • At Pubcon, it’s all about hands-on actionable information. Speakers need to have at least three giveaways that can help attendees better their website and marketing efforts. [5:57]
  • Brett shares the story of how Pubcon came to be. Back in 2000, 125 people crammed into a London pub for a meetup hosted by WebmasterWorld’s RC Jordan and Mike Mackin. [7:43]
  • On seeing the opportunity in growing Pubcon into a business. [11:01]
  • How Vegas became the main destination for Pubcon. [12:40]
  • What’s the difference between the main show in Vegas versus Pubcon Florida and Pubcon Austin? [14:18]
  • Brett’s top conference networking tips that he’s picked up over the years. [17:06]
  • His best advice for people who will eventually want to get on the stage at a Pubcon event. [19:18]
  • This is what people can do to ensure they never get to speak at a Pubcon or a conference. [20:45]
  • Brett’s secrets to creating such a loyal, grassroots and organic brand? Community, getting panels set up in a non-competitive manner, and alcohol. [24:02]
  • On the decisions he’s had to make over the past 20 years to keep Pubcon a leader in the webmaster conference space. [26:55]
  • As a younger person, Brett was fascinated by television sets – taking apart his family’s TV and putting it back together. He was also fascinated by the entire Commodore experience of the early ’80s.  [29:36]
  • How Pubcon keeps its content agendas fresh, especially with there being so much more competition. [31:37]
  • What are Brett’s pre- and post-Pubcon rituals? [33:49]
  • On the difficulties he faced managing WebmasterWorld for quite a few years working with volunteers, losing referral traffic from Google after Panda and Penguin, and dealing with all the proclivities and sensibilities of a global audience. [35:35]
  • The most satisfying part of all the stuff Brett has done for the past two decades. [38:08]
  • On the biggest thing about WebmasterWorld: “We’re kind of this unique, independent platform that gives people a voice without necessarily having consequences attached to just having that voice.” [40:45]
  • Brett shares his thoughts on the issues surrounding Google and big tech, where things might possibly land, and what it could mean for our industry. [42:15]
  • What might happen if the federal and/or state governments find Google has violated antitrust regulations? [46:53]
  • One of the pioneers of SEO, Brett started building websites in 1996 after a family friend asked him to build a webpage and learning HTML one weekend. [49:11]
  • How much has SEO changed since back in the early 2000s and where are we going? [51:59]
  • Brett’s recommended resources for people who want to stay abreast of the latest changes. [56:29]
  • If he wasn’t in search, marketing and web design, Brett would probably do programming full-time. [1:00:23]
  • The best pieces of professional and SEO advice ever given to Brett. [1:01:12]
  • The worst piece of SEO advice he’s still hearing today. [1:03:27]
  • What’s going on with links and is anchor text dead? [1:04:35]
  • This is what Brett hopes people in this industry will remember about him. [1:05:34]
  • Even if he could go back in time, Brett would not change a thing nor give himself any advice. [1:08:06]
  • Brett shares how he got through the tough moments in his career and what he learned from it. [1:09:25]
  • Learn the key to achieving long-lasting success in this industry, according to Brett. [1:11:03]
  • The thing that has got Brett most excited about in technology right now. [1:14:13]
  • What’s next for Brett Tabke? [1:16:06]

Links from the Episode

How to connect with Brett Tabke:

Facebook | Twitter | Pubcon

People Mentioned

To listen to this Search Engine Show: Better Know an SEO Pro Podcast with Brett Tabke:

Visit our podcast archive to listen to other Search Engine Journal Show podcasts!.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita

Category Careers SEJ Show
Danny Goodwin Former Executive Editor at Search Engine Journal

Danny Goodwin is the former Executive Editor of Search Engine Journal. He formerly was managing editor of Momentology and editor ...

Brett Tabke on Pubcon Turning 20, Anger at Google & The Power of Content [PODCAST]

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