I’m not sure what to make of the new intimate mini-conferences popping up around the world in the search engine marketing industry. No sooner does Danny Sullivan re-tool and re-invent the conference approach, as he fades away from Search Engine Strategies, but in the wake of his departure from Incisive Media, there are lots of smaller choices and new ideas being tried out.
One example is the customizable China Search Marketing Tour, which mixes travel with Search Engine Strategies. Niche conferences are another approach, such as the Second Annual SES Latino Event on June 18-19th, 2007.
The web design industry, specifically user centered design, have had a different approach all along. For example, Eric Meyer and Jeffrey Zeldman present the notable An Event Apart. These tend to be one or two day programs, but are also limited to large cities and USA oriented.
On a smaller, stay at home and learn scale, UIE offers Virtual Seminars. They write, “Instead of traveling to a training course, you and your colleagues can hear the latest insights on the most important design topics right from your office.”
I have been to one of the smaller search engine optimization events, and wrote about one in What a High Rankings Search Engine Marketing Seminar is Really Like. Not only are the smaller seminars more affordable, but they feature prominent industry speakers and practitioners, and offer more opportunities for one on one conversation. Need a site review? It’s more likely you can get one, and longer time devoted to your needs, in a less packed house.
Where Can You Get SEO and Usability in One Event?
Jill Whalen’s High Ranking conference led the way by being the first to recognize that presenting search engine marketing and optimization sessions with no mention of user centered design was not productive to attendees. She has always presented a usability session. The next High Rankings Search Engine Marketing Conference is coming this month to Minneapolis, MN on March 15 & 16. (For a 25% reduction in fee, you can use the “CRE8PC” discount code.)
But There’s More
Even while the larger conferences run, and smaller/shorter events fill in the gaps, there is also another level of education that’s staking its claim. Chambers of Commerce often sponsor networking events where practitioners can present to their local communities. Jill Whalen saw such an opportunity to focus on her own state, and launched SEMNE.org. She and her business partner, Pauline Kerbici, host small gatherings in the New England area, where they meet, share, educate and exchange ideas with other people in the industry. No need to blow money on a plane ticket and hotel room for a several days stay.
There are more to come from the local level. A group that I met with recently in the Philadelphia area found the informal gathering so fun and informative that there’s an effort to make it a more “official” event for those in the “Delaware Valley” area, and points north (to NYC) and below (Washington, DC).
This year’s hottest trend may be influenced by social media in a positive way by reminding us that “social” is just around the bend.