Legions of passionate marketers who eat, sleep, and breathe SEO, content, and social media filled the Las Vegas Convention Center today as Pubcon Las Vegas kicked off for its 15th consecutive year.
Pubcon founder, Brett Tabke, began the event with an audience poll to find out how many Pubcon events everyone has attended. A handful of hardcore veterans have attended more than seven Pubcon events! In fact, the audience this morning was full of repeat attendees with the majority of the audience having attended at least one or two Pubcon events in the past.
Myself? This was my very first Pubcon event, so what you’re about to read is written from the experience of a first timer. If you have never attended Pubcon before, hopefully you’ll get a better idea of what it’s all about. And even if you have been to one (or several) in the past, there’s still a ton to be gained from today’s sessions.
Networking, Networking, Networking
Some of the best advice I received from experienced Pubcon attendees was to stay at the official convention hotel because of all the networking opportunities. This year, the official hotel was the Treasure Island Resort and Casino, and as soon as I sat down on the shuttle from the hotel to the convention center, the networking was already underway.
After striking up a conversation with a gentleman next to me, I quickly knew all about the politics that a big brand in-house SEO team has to deal with. Fascinating! I was already getting plenty of value out of this experience.
Having registered and picked up my badge the day before (which I highly recommend doing), I was able to bypass the huge line and walk right into the exhibitors hall for some more networking before the first sessions began.
Aisle after aisle of marketing agencies, software companies, and service providers filled the exhibitors hall. As you might expect from a marketing conference, these vendors spared no expense when it came to promoting their wares.
Many were giving away free swag, which was expected, but no less appreciated. What was not expected were companies who brought in beer pong tables, mechanical bulls, and even Lamborghinis to draw attention to their booth. It worked, because I couldn’t resist riding a mechanical bull to win a Host Gator plushie.
After speaking with people I found that everyone attends Pubcon for different reasons. Pubcon veteran, Murray Newlands, said he attends for the networking opportunities. Many others said they attend to connect with potential customers. As for me, my goal was to learn as much as I could from the brilliant minds in attendance.
After having a blast in the exhibitors hall it was time to buckle down to absorb some serious wisdom from the world renowned speakers on the agenda.
With so many sessions going on at once, it’s literally impossible to see everything, so you have to prioritize in advance which ones you want to see. I was able to attend a couple of sessions and one keynote. Based on what I learned at these sessions, I think I chose wisely.
First Session: Copywriting Style Guide – Tools And Tricks For SEO Writers
Lindsay Mineo of ThunderActive and Mindy Weinstein of Bruce Clay Inc. presented this session, with their unique experiences at their respective agencies complimenting each other well.
Mineo spoke on the importance of understanding your audience and writing for them, rather than the search engine robots. She presented tactics for finding topics that resonate with your audience and how to find the right voice to better connect with them.
Weinstein opened our eyes to the fact that the web is littered with home pages that don’t speak to an audience, and in extreme cases don’t even resemble the industry they belong to.
One of the key takeaways from this session was don’t write any piece of content until you fully understand your audience, and the best way to see your business through your audience’s eyes is to think of what keywords they’d search for if they couldn’t use your business name.
Second Session: Taming Google Algorithm Chaos and (Not Provided)
This session was presented by Bruce Clay of Bruce Clay Inc, Prashant Puri of Adlift, and Jake Bohall of Virante.
Bruce Clay spoke to the fact that provided keywords were a fallacy all along and data has been skewed for the past 6 years by things like location data and search history. The only 100% query-based data is Google Instant.
Prashant Puri practically ran a clinic on advanced Google Analytics tactics that you can use to dig deeper into keyword data. Jake Bohall compared Google’s algorithm updates to chaos theory — every innocent move Google makes to try and clean up search results has unintentional and devastating effects. Bohall gave the example of some companies being run out of business after their traffic was crushed by Panda and Penguin.
One of the key takeaways here was to do #RCS, that’s Real Company Shit. Does Nike go around building links with anchor text like “cheap Air Jordans?” no, they build links with their brand name. Don’t be spammy.
Keynote: Facebook’s Mark Trefgarne
Mark Trefgarne, Product Mangement Director at Facebook, spoke on an announcement made today about the Facebook Audience Network (FAN), which aims to solve challenges faced by mobile marketers.
That’s where FAN comes it. With FAN, mobile marketers can get all benefits of Facebook targeting and measurement for non-Facebook ads.
One of the most interesting features of FAN is that it allows app developers to design the ads in a way that they blend in with the rest of the user experience so they’re less intrusive.
Sriram Krishnan, product manger of Audience Network at Facebook provided the following exclusive quote to Search Engine Journal on the announcement:
“The Audience Network is great for developers – it helps them grow and spend their time focusing on the things they want to. It’s great for advertisers – it gives them even more reach/scale for their Facebook campaigns and gives them access to more mobile inventory. And, it’s great for people – they see more relevant ads and benefit from developers being able to build new, fun and useful apps.”
For more information about FAN, check out their official announcement.
I’m sitting in Treasure Island right now typing this, as I’m watching everyone file in for one of many after-hours networking events. Just some more value out of staying at the official conference hotel.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to join them and then go rest up for Pubcon Day 2. More coverage to come!