No Boston PubCon 2007?

Okay, so I’m going to guess and say that it looks like there will be no PubCon in Boston this year. I know that the Boston PubCon is not really an annual event like the Las Vegas PubCon, but I went to the Boston PubCon last year. I really enjoyed it, and I was hoping there would be another one this year.

Last year’s was in April though, and I remember that by February it had been announced. Now that we are in February, and it has not been announced yet, I don’t think it will be unless they are planning it for sometime later than April. With the big one most likely being in Vegas again in the fall, I don’t think it will happen. I imagine that Webmaster World will be putting all their energy into that one. Well, maybe I will go to that one this year since it is supposed to be the best one.

I wrote about my experience at Boston PubCon last year, here.

Boston PubCon 2006: Day 3

Okay, the third and final day of Boston PubCon 2006 was a bust. Here’s why. Rather and stay and go to the PubCon I decided to leave and go home. This makes it a pretty worthless day to me. I didn’t know that Thursday’s PubCon was at an actual pub 2 miles from the conference center. I debated on going and not going, and in the end I decided to just head to the airport and get ready to go home.

I scheduled a late flight home on Thursday so that I would be able to attend the last event. That was before I learned that it was not at the convention center. When I calculated how much time I needed to get to the airport and catch a 5PM flight, I realized I would only have an hour at the pub. I decided that it was not worth it, to risk having to hurry to catch my plane for an hour at the pub. It turned out to be a good decision.

When I checked out of my room and left for lunch, I checked on getting an airport shuttle at the concierge’s desk upon my return to the hotel. She said that they show up every hour on the hour. I had just missed the last one, so I would have to wait until 2PM to catch the next one. If I had gone to the pub and gotten back to the hotel after 3PM and missed the shuttle, I would have risked being late and missing the plane. So in the end, I was glad of my decision.

I am dissappointed that I had to miss it though. In the end, I don’t see how anyone trying to catch a late flight can do it and still go to the pub. I would recommend to Brett Tabke that they change this. If not, I will only plan to go the first 2 days of the conference the next time I go to a PubCon.

Boston PubCon 2006: Day 2

Alright, this post is 2 weeks late, but I have been busy since getting back from the con. The second day’s sessions were even better than the first day, I thought. So, overall I enjoyed the second day the most. Here is a rundown of the sessions.

The first morning session was the Super Bloggers of Search with Matt Cutts, Rob Scoble and Jeremy Zawodny. The panel was asked to talk first about the future of blogging and then about corporate blogging. One thing I noticed is that the panelists mentioned Bloglines and Technorati several times. I use those services rarely, but I think that says a lot about their popularity and significance.

Matt Cutts talked about how, for him, blogging helps make you more transparent and allows for good feedback. Jeremy Zawodny said that feedback comes through e-mail as well as blog comments, so not all of it is seen by the public. He talked about how blogging about Google Finance and Yahoo Finance allowed him an opportunity to meet with the new head of Yahoo Finance and talk about new plans for the service.

The bloggers were asked which platform they use, and it was interesting to note that none of them use their own companies’ blogging platforms. Matt Cutts and Robert Scoble both use WordPress. Matt said that he uses it over Blogger because of the ability to use categories with WordPress. Overall, it was a very interesting session.

Next, I went to the Public Relations session, which was also very interesting. The panelists were Lee Odden, Lawrence Coburn, Robin Liss and David McInnis. I think Odden and McInnis had the most interesting presentations. Odden basically outlined his companies strategy for using online PR for his clients. David McInnis works for PRWeb and talked about the services current features as well as some new ones they added recently. One thing that Odden and McInnis both said was that you should issue at least one press release a month. This is because the news search engines run on a 28 day cycle, so they drop press releases after 28 days.

The third session of the day was another Link Building session. Panelists were Mike Grehan, Jim Boykin, Bill Hartzer and Eric Ward. Jim Boykin gave a presentation about how his company will go about building links for his clients. It was very interesting, but he asked bloggers in the room not to post the information publicly. Overall, it was a very good session, but it was kind of an overview of stuff I already knew.

One thing I heard several speakers say is be careful about linking between sites on the same IP address. Search engines will look at that as an attempt to cheat the system because those sites are usually owned or run by the same company.

Eric Ward gave the best presentation here. He said that he builds links without the search engines in mind. Eric asked the question if there were no search engines, would you still want that link? To me, that is a very important idea to keep in mind when building links. Many of the speakers repeated the idea that is the quality of the link that matters, not the quantity. Another thing that Eric said was that you should try to get links from different top level domains. This means that instead of getting links from only .com’s, they should be from other sources as well, such as .gov’s and .edu’s. Overall, it was a very informative session.

After lunch, we had 2 more sessions. The first one was on Paid Links: Risks vs. Rewards. Todd Malicoat, Patrick Gavin, Philip Kaplan and Roger Montti all gave presentations. I was disappointed overall in this session. I went to the session because I wanted to know about risks of buying links. There wasn’t a lot of information on that. They mainly talked about buying links.

Todd Malicoat and Patrick Gavin gave the best presentations on buying links. Kaplan talked about his company, AdBrite, rather than repeat what the other panelists said. When he tried to go to his companies site, however, it was down, so his presentation was pretty much useless. But, it is worth noting that AdBrite sells ads, and I believe they are an ad network. They do not link to sites directly, instead they use a redirect link. Also, advertisers can get full stats for every site they advertise on, as opposed to Google, which does not release any stats about which sites their ads appear on.

Roger Montti, aka martinibuster, did not really present on paid links either, but rather talked about link building in general. He did offer a few tips. First, was use high quality content to generate links, which is pretty much a given, but has gained a lot attention lately as “link baiting.” Another tip Roger gave was to buy links for new sites to get them started building traffic. This made a lot of sense to me. He also said that when buying links or building links, you can use banner ads instead of just text links. I would add that you must have keywords on the alt text and use a direct link. Roger also recommended using partner link deals, which is similar to reciprocal linking, I guess.

The last session of the day was Search Engines & Webmasters aka “Search Engine Smackdown.” This session was very informative and entertaining. The panel consisted of Matt Cutts from Google, Tim Mayer from Yahoo, Rahul Lahiri (I believe) from Ask.com and a rep from MSN who had a foreign name I didn’t catch.

The first rep to speak was from Ask. He said that they were very focused on the user experience. He also gave some SEO tips for Ask. He said same subject links are important and that visual relevance was important. I assume by visual relevance he means the results that the users sees that makes them want to click on it, i.e. the title tag, description and url. Some of the things they don’t recommend using are hidden redirects, artificial links, hidden links and misspelled anchor text. Also, he said to help the crawler, don’t use session id’s or cookies and provide http last modified headers. Additionally, custom 404’s should send a 404 signal back to the search engine.

Matt Cutts talked about Google Calendar a little bit. He mentioned that Google Calendar imports RSS, which I thought was important. Matt indicated Google is refreshing supplemental results so those should be updating. He talked about bigdaddy and said that all the datacenters are showing it now. Bigdaddy was a software infrastructure upgrade to crawling and indexing. Matt said along with bigdaddy we should see fresher indexing, smarter crawling and a new Googlebot.

Tim Mayer said that Yahoo recommends that pages be index friendly with unique content. He explained that Yahoo Seeker, which some people were apparently confused about, is the shopping crawler. Tim talked about several new features at Yahoo, such as local and navigational active abstracts, my web 2.0 beta and Yahoo mindset. Yahoo mindset is a search result relevancy slider that toggles between shopping vs. research results.

The Microsoft rep pretty much just gave a live demo of Live.com, which was probably for the best. It is a really cool new search engine, which makes use of a lot of AJAX. One of the coolest things was the local search. This is similar to Google maps but in Boston and Seattle they have street level views on the maps. This was really cool to see. It also has search macros and rss feeds.

In the Q and A, Ask said that different sites have different indexing times. Matt Cutts stressed that Google sees a dash as a separator and an underscore as a combiner. Also, when asked about China censorship, Matt said Google’s ultimate decision was to provide a disclaimer in the results where a search result had been removed due to government censorship. Overall, this was a very entertaining and informative session.

Boston PubCon 2006: Day 1

Well, the PubCon kicked off today, and I think it was pretty good, at least, the first half was anyway. This was my first time, and it was pretty much what I expected. This post is a long one, so bear with me.

Malcolm Gladwell’s keynote was first, and he was great. He really is a talented speaker, even though I haven’t read his books. His presentation made me want to get one or both of his best sellers and check them out. He talked about “the tipping point,” which he defines as the point where a single event can cause drastic change. Gladwell used the example of the radio, when David Sarnoff came up with the idea of broadcasting a boxing match live over the radio. No one had done this before, and this single event changed how people thought about radio. It was at that point that radio began to take off. This example was the tipping point for radio.

Gladwell also talked about social change and “connectors.” Connectors are people who have social power because they know lots of people in diverse social groups. Connectors can have huge impacts on social change becuase of their influence on others. He talked about how they can affect commerce because people frequently make purchases based on social influence. His underlying message was that marketers want to influence the connectors because they can influence more people than the average person, therefore they have more influence over buying decisions. I thought it was very interesting.

During the Q and A, Gladwell answered a question about online social networking. He said that their success is usually their downfall. Once they become successful, everyone is a part of it, and it doesn’t feel exclusive anymore, which is what usually attracted the users in the first place. So they move on the next big thing, and the cycle continues. Gladwell said that they should impose limits to ensure success, and I agree with him. Limits create a feeling of exclusivity, and they create a buzz. Google has done well with this. A lot of their product releases have limits on who can join, for example Gmail, Analytics, etc.

The Local Search session was pretty good. Local search is growing fast, and the presenters covered it pretty well. Justin Sanger from LocalLauch!, Jake Baillie from TrueLocal, Bruce Crair from Interchange and Thai Tran from Google Local were all presenters. I think people were most interested in Tran’s presentation.

Tran talked about how Google gets it’s local results. They come from three area’s: Internet Yellow Pages, Google’s crawl of the web and user submitted data. In addition to Local Search, Google has Google Earth and Google Local for Mobile. To get listed or update your listing in Google Local, Tran said to use the Local Business Center or Google Base. Google doesn’t offer user reviews, but they supplement the local search results with user reviews found on the web. Tran also talked about the recently unveiled Local Business Ads. The audience used the Q & A to ask Tran several questions about Google.

Next was the Link Building Clinic, which was probably the most entertaining of the day. Rae Hoffman, Dixon Jones, Byron White and Eric Ward were the presenters here. This was a panel were users submitted their sites for review, and the panel reviewed the sites live before the audience. The first three sites reviewed all either currently or had used spam techniques to build links. Rae Hoffman and Dixon Jones were examining the linking structures of their sites and calling them out on it, telling the owners how if they can catch it that easily so can the search engines. It was pretty amusing. I thought this was also the most informative of the day.

During lunch, Google gave a presentation about Google Sitemaps, and I finally got to see Mr. Matt Cutts in person, as he was sitting on this panel. Vanessa and Amanda from Google were on this panel as well. I walked into this a little late so I missed the first part. Cutts had a lot of good information to give the lunch crowd. He said that the best way to look at Sitemaps is as a way for you to give Google information and vice versa. This is a good point because that is the only value I see in it also. Google can get the information itself. Sitemaps allows you to add to this information and receive valuable information on your site from Google itself in return.

Another thing Matt Cutts indicated is that Google uses javascript on the links in their search results to track user behavior. This was something that I myself have wondered. Google also uses geo-location to determine where a web site is located. They use this information in their country specific search. Cutts also talked about bigdaddy saying that the update could have changed the crawling frequency for some sites. All in all Cutts was pretty informative.

The Organic Search Options panel was pretty good. Aaron Wall, Todd Malicoat and Bruce Clay were presenters, and Mike Grehan moderated and commented himself a number of times. This session consisted of the panel answering the audiences questions. There was too much here to put it all down, but it was pretty informative and interesting.

The last panel I went to was Blink! Thin Slicing Search with Ron Belanger from Yahoo, Gordon Hotchkiss and some guy from Google who’s name I didn’t get. This panel was pretty technical and was kind of over my head. It consisted of the panel answering a lot of questions from Brett Tabke and the audience. I was really tired at that point, so I didn’t get much out of it.

I hope to get a lot more out of tomorrow. There are some good sessions that I will have to miss because I can only go to one at a time. In the morning, they have the super bloggers of search with Robert Scoble, Jeremy Zawodny and Matt Cutts. Then I am attending the Public Relations, Link Building Campaigns and Paid Links sessions. The last session is the Search Engine Smackdown featuring Cutts again along with Yahoo and Ask reps. Looks like it will be another fun filled day!

Going to PubCon Boston

Today I am in Boston for PubCon. The event begins tomorrow, April 18th and ends Thursday, April 20th. The con kicks off tomorrow morning with the keynote address by Macolm Gladwell, author of “Tipping Point.” After that, there will be sessions for most of the day. Representatives of Google, including Matt Cutts, will be holding court during lunch tomorrow to discuss new Google Sitemaps features. Here are the sessions I am attending tomorrow.

I will be posting my notes from the sessions here at the end of every day so stay tuned!