15 tips for a successful PubCon conference

PubCon speakerPubCon is one of my favorite conference series ever.

It’s not just the speakers (always top-notch) or the vibe (always fun.) PubCon is a great combination of smart people, talented speakers and excellent content – much of which you won’t find anywhere else.

And it’s coming up in less than two weeks. Are you ready?

If you’re new to PubCon, you’ll find your “survival guide” below. I’ve compiled this list after 4 years of speaking at PubCon (and 10+ years of speaking at other search engine industry conferences.) If you follow these 15 tips, you’ll have a fun, profitable time.

Before the show:

  1. Try to finish up as much work as you can before hitting the plane. You may have every intention of working a “normal” day while you attend conference sessions. It won’t happen. Really, it won’t. You’ll be pulled in 100 different directions and on “conference time.”
  2. Send emails to people you want to meet and introduce yourself. Even if you can’t set up a formal appointment time, you can at least get on their radar – and then introduce yourself when you see the opportunity.
  3. Check out the PubCon blog for the latest and greatest. You’ll learn about speakers, sessions, special discounts…and yes, the networking parties.
  4. Make plans to see your friends. Chances are, you’ll find your best buddies at the show, at the hotel bar or at one of the networking parties. But if it’s really, really important to see someone, make plans to meet them at a certain time. I don’t know how many times I’ll say “I’ll see you there” – and then I barely catch a glimpse of them during the show.
  5. Check out the #pubcon Tweets on Twitter – especially if you’re a PubCon newbie. You’ll learn about the speakers, the conference-goers and the after-conference activities. Plus, Twitter is an easy way to meet folks if you’re shy – and keep up with them during the show. Once you hit Vegas, you’ll already have a group of people to roll with.

At the show:

  1. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to the speakers and ask questions. The speakers are PubCon are nice, approachable and friendly. Most of the time, they’re happy to answer whatever question you have. Having said that…
  2. Don’t ask a speaker to provide free SEO consulting. Yes, the speakers love sharing their knowledge – and we’re happy to answer your questions on stage or after the panels. However, please don’t ask for free, in-depth help that you’d normally pay for under the guise of  “Could you spare 30 minutes to look at my site and just give me a few pointers.” And for goodness sake, please don’t follow us into the bathroom and try to hand us your business card under the stall (yes, it’s happened – to multiple people, multiple times.) Thank you. We appreciate it.
  3. Don’t be one of those “room-service people.” Sure, you’re exhausted after a full day of PubCon. And yes, curling up in bed and ordering room service sounds cozy. Just know that a huge amount of networking takes place in the bars and at the clubs. The more people you meet, the more opportunities you have to network – and that won’t happen in the privacy of your hotel room.
  4. By the same token – pace yourself at the parties. A huge newbie mistake is partying so hard during the first night that the rest of the conference is a hungover blur. Remember, you’re there to learn – not party (I know, I know.) If nothing else, remember to eat a good dinner and that water is your friend. Drink a lot of it. It’s better for you than vodka.
  5. Go to sessions you wouldn’t normally attend.  If you’re an organic SEO person, hit some PPC sessions. If you don’t know anything about contextual advertising, check out a session. You never know what you’ll learn – or who you’ll meet – that can help with a future gig.

After the show:

  1. Be aware of what @josephmorin calls the PCB’s (the post-conference blues.) It’s always a weird feeling after spending a whirlwind few days in Vegas to come home and be partner, parent and all-around “normal” person again. You may get a little depressed. It’s OK. We all do.
  2. If a speaker gave you a tip that rocked your SEM world, let him or her know. Speakers love to know when they’ve helped someone (otherwise, we wouldn’t be speaking!). A short “Thanks for the tip on X” is fantastic feedback. And besides, you’ll make their day.
  3. When you follow up by email, mention something that will jog the other person’s memory like, “We were discussing how to implement linkbait strategies for ecommerce sites.” Conference-goers meet so many people during PubCon that it’s often hard to keep everyone straight – so memory-cues like that are crucial. Personalized emails encourage conversation ore than generic “nice meeting you” emails – and you’ll be more apt to receive a response.
  4. Upload and tag pictures with care. It’s more than “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” It’s showing respect for your colleagues…even if they just happened to get in the shot and you don’t know who they are. Some photos look more compromising than what was happening in real life, and you don’t want to mess with someone’s job (or their relationship) because you thought a certain picture was funny. And sometimes, the folks in the picture are doing exactly what it looks like – but really, is that something you need to post? When in doubt, ask the folks in the pic if it’s OK to post or leave it out entirely.  Better safe than sorry.
  5. Implement all your great ideas! PubCon is great for trading strategies with new friends, learning about the latest SEM information and discovering what works and what doesn’t. But conferences don’t help you if you don’t put those great ideas into action.

I’ll see you there! I’ll be moderating the “SEO and Viral Tactics on a Shoestring Budget” on November 11th and “Optimizing Your Site for Contextual Ads” on November 12th.  I’ll also be discussing “Real World Winning Tactics for Content Creation” on November 12th.  And if you want to reach me before the show, just zip a Tweet to @heatherlloyd. It will be great to “meet” you!

And if you have your own PubCon conference tip – please share it below!

Double shot SEO content marketing sale – save $200 on SEO copywriting training and reporting!

Double shot SEO Content SaleWondering what’s wrong with your SEO content marketing campaign – and more importantly, how to fix it?

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Because of your fantastic feedback (thank you!), I’m launching the Double Shot SEO Content Marketing Sale (I know, I know – I just had to include a coffee reference!) The Double Shot SEO Content Marketing Sale includes:

I’m running this limited-time, $200 off sale for a limited time – learn more about the Double Shot SEO Content Marketing Sale now!

DMA09 – Join us for the SuccessWorks Search Marketing Labs

dma_09Heading to DMA09 in San Diego?  SuccessWorks will be running the Search Marketing Experience Labs on Tuesday, October 20th.  I’ll be evaluating Websites with other experts including Lee Odden from TopRank Online Marketing, Kenny Hyder from Rockstar Consultants and Khalid Saleh from Invesp.

This is a great opportunity to get (free!) advice on your SEO content marketing strategy, conversion effectiveness, technical SEO and social media campaign. Join us!

SEO copywriting on WebmasterRadio.FM’s SEM Synergy

sem-synergyWant to learn more about SEO copywriting?  The always-wonderful Virginia Nussey from Bruce Clay, Inc. interviewed Heather on the importance of SEO copywriting and content marketing. In 10 fast-paced minutes, we discussed psychology’s role in SEO copywriting, the one big content takeaway from SMXEast and our new online SEO copywriting training.

Enjoy the podcast about SEO copywriting and on page content now!

Going beyond linkbait – why you need good, original content

Content link baitLast week, I read an article in Mediaweek that warmed my heart. The title? “Marketer Must-Have: Original Web Editorial.” The article profiled how AT&T hired an outside firm to create value-added content that’s “something of value and more than just an advertising message.” Why? Because they realized, according to the article, “Search and social media are the main modes of information discovery, and both engines live off vast pools of content.”

Yes, yes, yes!

To that I say two things: Hear hear, and what the hell took you so long?

Original content provides companies an incredible opportunity to provide value to their readers, connect with their customers – and yes, get more search rankings for more keywords. Zappos is an excellent example of a site with fantastic content – product pages, blog posts, articles – even Tweets.

At the same time, there are some misconceptions about what “original content” can mean. Here are some things to think about when you’re planning your SEO content marketing campaign:

Know your audience and write for them. One of the first questions I’ll ask a prospect is “what is your customer persona?” About 75% of the time, the response is “what’s a customer persona?” The first step in any content marketing campaign – which includes your SEO copywriting campaign – is to focus on who you’re writing your copy for. Is it a middle-aged woman in the Midwest who loves domestic travel, Dancing With The Stars and Oprah magazine? A single male city dweller who lives in a condo, digs the latest electronics and eats out every meal? These nuances are important. How you write what you write is just as important as what you write. If you miss the customer persona boat and write general copy, you’ll see general (read: so-so) conversion results.

Beware the cognitive trap that controversial “linkbait” equals quality content. I think the term “linkbait” is an unfortunate one, as it implies “baiting” a site to link to yours. Listen, quality content is quality content. Thinking of terms of “what content will drive the most links and stir up the most controversy” is a short-sighted strategy that ignores other forms of useful content. For instance, should you not include a FAQ page about your product because it’s not a good “linkbait” article? It sounds ridiculous to read – but this is something I hear about every day.

I am the first to admit that some of my more controversial posts are my most popular. At the same time, I hear clients wanting to create nothing but snarky content, believing that controversy is what gets viral link love and makes sales. Yes, if you are passionate about a topic, by all means, let it fly. A good example is Amy Africa’s discussion of the Gerry Pike/DMA controversy. But if your blog is filled with rants, slams and sexy headlines with no content, you’ll lose your readership – or cause them to rail against you. If you must rant, rant responsibly – and make sure that your content marketing strategy encompasses all sorts of content.

Good content means a good content marketing strategy. It’s tempting to read the Mediaweek article and think, “By gum, I need to kick out a bunch of articles.” And that’s half right. The other missing element is how those articles (or blog posts, or Tweets) fold back into your content marketing strategy. And on a broader scale, how your writing dovetails with your television ad spots, radio ads, Yellow Page ad and newspaper/magazine display ads (yes, people still do advertise in newspapers!). Your content strategy gives you a roadmap so you know exactly what to write, who you’re writing it for, and how the writing integrates with the rest of your site and your overarching marketing strategy. If you’re kicking out “onesie twosie” articles in an attempt to halfheartedly gain search rankings and build buzz, you’re not leveraging what you can leverage. Good planning = better search rankings, better conversions and a better connection with your customers.

And at the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Special pre-launch price – online SEO copywriting training

SEO copywriting trainingJust in time for SMXEast, I’m excited to pre-launch my new SEO copywriting training (officially starting October 12, 2009.) I’ve been talking to a lot of folks who need training – but they need more than a book or a blog to get them through. They need hands-on help combined with up-to-the-minute information. That’s where the training comes in.

If you’ve wanted to learn how to write for search engines – but need some one-on-one help and a low-cost alternative – this is the perfect resource for you. Here’s why:

Here’s what you’ll receive in the online SEO copywriting training:

  • 24/7 access to my exclusive SEO copywriting training for one full year, including the second edition of my book, Successful SEO Copywriting (over 130 pages chock-full of SEO copywriting information) podcasts, exercises, PowerPoints, special reports and more!
  • Expert answers to your questions through the SEO copywriting forum.
  • Exclusive access to twice-monthly educational conference calls with Heather Lloyd-Martin and other members of the SuccessWorks faculty.

This is the only low-cost SEO copywriting course that gives you one on one help AND is constantly updated with the latest information.

All this for less than $1.35 a day. It’s SEO copywriting training on your terms!

The online SEO copywriting training is a “living document” – meaning we’ll be updating it with new podcasts and PowerPoints – so you’ll always be up to date with the latest information, strategies and tactics. I’ll also have other SEO copywriters create special reports (one is in the works right now about managing multiple writers) so you can learn what’s worked for other people just like you.

We’re soft-launching the training at a special discounted price – so sign up now for the best rate! And just let me know if you have any questions!

Learn more about the SEO copywriting training here!  And ping me if you’d like an additional 10% super-secret discount, good this week only.