Next week is the Search Engine Strategies London conference and expo at the Business Design Centre in Islington, which I will be participating in for roughly the fifth or sixth time – in fact I cannot quite remember which one was the first I attended or even the first I spoke at.
Attending conferences is something of an acquired art. You can tell those who have had plenty of practice because they remain most relaxed, avoid the ever imminent threat of hangover and do not try to do too much. My very first SEO conference, I ducked and dived between sessions to gain as much as I could from the event, networked as hard as I could and spent the next few weeks recuperating.
How many times have I been asked “Which sessions would you recommend I go to?” Today I believe the best response is to point people at speakers. There are three reasons why you should choose to go and watch a particular speaker:
- Outstanding, talented or very informative speakers
- Speaker no one has ever heard of – including me – to find out if they are worth seeing
- Speaker you have never heard of but you are recommended to go and see
And by the way, do not go because of what the bio says – often the worst bios disguise some great speakers!
So what this all really means is that speaker recommendations are truly key to having a successful conference. As someone fortunate enough to count many of the speakers amongst my friends and associates – and who has attended at least one such conference every month for the last few years – it seemed appropriate for me to share with you my recommendations and comments. So here are my personal thoughts in random order – this list is NOT all the speakers worth seeing as that would be just too tough to do (if I have missed you out guys – I guess the best recourse is to grab me in the bar!):
Bryan Eisenberg: Bryan is not only one of the nicest guys on the circuit, boy is his preparation for conferences impressive. I was lucky to choose to go and see the presentation he will be keynoting in London when it was run-through at SES Chicago. His presentation on “21 Secrets of Top Converting Websites” – is so slick and enlightening not only did I stop taking notes in Chicago so I could listen to every word, I might just go and watch this again! Only weakness – Bryan uses Macs… www.bryaneisenberg.com
Jim Sterne: Mr eMetrics par excellence, just like Bryan, Jim is a consumate speaker, preparer and very nice guy. Not only has he written six books, but he has also the founding president and current chairman of the Web Analytics Association. He once tried to explain to me why Americans did not get international search marketing – fortunately things have changed dramatically on that score in the last few years. www.targeting.com
Dave Naylor: Funny this but Dave – also known as DaveN – lives just a few miles away from me and yet I first met Dave in Stockholm and see him more often in the US than I do in the UK. Whatever Dave says is worth listening to – even though he might throw you a few curve balls – or challenging comments that you really have to follow up on later, but his knowledge of SEO is without question. And his humorous presentation of it all is worth watching, even if you are already an expert! www.bronco.co.uk
Rand Fishkin: The SEO industry’s true celebrity – my first meeting with Rand was at SES New York when the yellow sneakers – Rand’s trademark – were still at the peak of their pulling power. Rand is just a great communicator who would be dangerous if he went into politics. Oh and he knows a thing or two about search marketing – and white boards. www.seomoz.org
Matt Bailey: Matt has been around the circuit quite a number of years and is latterly best known – by me anyway – for the excellence of his training presentations. Clear, concise, interesting and yet dealing with complex subjects in a digestible way. www.sitelogicmarketing.com
Brian Clifton: Ex-head of Google Analytics Europe, Brian could be said to know how to measure web things. For those of us who were there, it will be difficult to erase the mental image of Brian being crowned “Head of the Vikings” at an SEO conference evening when he beat representatives from Ask, Yahoo and Microsoft to the title (representing Google of course). Now he returned to a more search engine independent position. www.advanced-web-metrics.com
Bill and Motoko Hunt: Since Bill and I both generally specalise in a similar field (international search marketing), I have lost count of the number of panels I have jointly done with Bill – or for that matter with Motoko his Japanese-search-marketing-specialist wife. Bill has in-dept technical knowledge on international search and SEO – so if international is important to you make sure you catch Bill or Motoko’s panels. back-azimuth.com AJPR.com
Dixon Jones: Dixon has spoken at many of our International Search Summit events and we have shared a platform many times. Sadly, Dixon’s “white hat” seems to have disappeared from his conference kit right now. I wonder if that is because he has now gone “grey” since his work with MajesticSEO began? Seriously, Dixon has a lot to say on the subject of links. www.receptional.com www.majesticseo.com
John Marshall: Remember ClickTracks? John was behind that and although he was already then based in California – where he now still lives – he is a Brit who has not lost any of his Britishness and sense of humour – even though he has recently officially become an American citizen. Nowadays, training and certification is John’s bag through his current business MarketMotive. www.marketmotive.com
Shari Thurow: Shari leads the field in search usability – and she is highly recognised as a speaker in the usability field. But there are many other facets to Shari which not everyone spots. Listen to her very sharp comedic timing when she is speaking because if you are not keeping up, by the time the penny drops it could be too late. Shari is also a regular speaker at the International Search Summit. www.search-usability.com
Greg Jarboe: I can only be rude about Greg. I have to find some way to wreak revenge for him dressing me (and many others) in a blue Santa Clause hat whilst seated next to the fireplace in the Chicago Hilton bar during December’s SES Chicago. But he is forgiven because Greg has a unique speaking ability to make sometimes tough subjects – like your online reputation – remain interesting whilst delivering meaningful thought-provoking content. www.seo-pr.com
Sante Achille: Thankfully having recently survived the Acquila Italian earthquake, Sante is an SEO who is really grasped the nettle with blogs to promote a business – and multilingually too. He is, of course, a trusted contributor to Multilingual-Search.com and the International Search Summits. blog.achille.name
Mikkel deMib Svendsen: Danish-guru Mikkel – still remembered for wearing red suits to speak – has been around the industry longer than the industry has been around. What he knows, he cannot deliver in a panel or site clinic because there is not time – but grab it anyway. I once moderated a panel with Mikkel and Shari – and became the jam in the sandwich. www.demib.com
Peter Maxmin: Peter presented at our last International Search Summit – and his presentation gives some very useful insights from a search engine’s perspective particularly looking at what users want to get out of search. Very useful stuff for search marketers. Bing.co.uk
Mike Grehan: The first thing that ever struck me about Mike was the voice – I thought he should be on radio – then I discovered he had been. Something of an Icon – and now appropriately heading the team at Search Engine Strategies/ Clickz – Mike has extremely valuable insights relating to the search industry. In particular, Mike is very good at understanding and presenting “information retrieval” which is how search engines see things and relating it to “search marketing” which of course is what the SEO-world tends to call it. He almost certainly has the best personal network of people there is in the industry. www.searchenginestrategies.com
Kristjan Mar Hauksson: Kristjan hails from Iceland where his school had special barriers to keep the polar bears out. And if you can run a business in Iceland with no banks – you can run one anywhere. These days speaking more on reputation management – Kristjan’s personality is such that he could speak on anything, and you would still want to listen. www.nordicemarketing.com
Anne Kennedy: Anne Kennedy should really be living at Portland on the south coast of England – but someone made a mistake and so now she is hopping from Portland east coast US to Portland west coast. Or rather it would be better for us Brits is she lived in the UK – Anne is a great speaker and regularly attends the International Search Summits – but she is also a fantastic moderator. Presently her focus is on optimising “digital assets” and I am sure we would all like to be confident that our digital assets are properly optimised – right? 🙂 Very useful tips – joking aside… Joblr.com
Mel Carson: Mel is the glue of the UK’s search marketing industry who makes sure we are all connected and doing the right things. Who knows, one day he might be running conferences. Right now, he is doing an excellent job of ensuring good relations between Microsoft’s Bing and the search marketing industry and they, and we, are richer for having him. bing.co.uk
Matt McGowan: Matt is the chief at Search Engine Strategies from a business point of view. Both a listener and a thinker – he keeps closely in touch with the industry, even despite his apparently relaxed exterior. www.searchenginestrategies.com
Mr and Mrs Myers: Bill and Motoko Hunt are not the only search couple – but Jon and Lisa Myers are the only ones, that I know, who met through search. Both are great presenters and personalities. On one occasion by sheer chance, I ended up sat next to Lisa and Rob Kerry on an 11-hour flight to a conference in Vegas. My luck – their misfortune! www.jonmyers.co.uk www.vervesearch.com
Others I would have liked to have had space to mention include Bas van den Beld, Ralph Tegtmeier, Rob Walk, Richard Zwicky, Jamie Smith, Marcelo Sant’Iago, Kevin Ryan, Ciaran Norris – I will try and cover these and other speakers in blogging from the event. If you think I have missed someone or want to add more detail – please feel free to comment!
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