There is no shortage of search conferences to polish up your skills. So, when the folks at Distilled said they were launching a new conference in New York, SearchLove, I was skeptical. But, I’ve been on a panel with Will Critchlow before and he’s tremendously sharp and well connected in the SEO world, so I decided to ask him what makes SearchLove unique in this Q&A.
DigitalAlex readers can use the code SEARCH2011BIRD to save $200 on registration.
1.) Okay, I have to ask: Does the search community really need another conference? What makes SearchLove unique than, say, SMX Advanced?
We felt that there was some things we could provide in a conference that are different to the experience with the big events. Our conferences are all in one track, with a much smaller number of the very best speakers we can find. Each of the speakers gets enough time to dig deep into their subject (45 minutes plus). With no expo, no sponsor tracks etc. all our speakers know that they have to bring their A game as they will be speaking in front of the full audience.
We live and die by the quality of our content – we put huge effort into the speaker prep – I personally am getting on the phone now with our speakers to plan out their sessions and we are all very heavily involved in making sure that our speakers bring tips and tricks that we would want to hear. My biggest tip for our speakers is to imagine they are speaking only to me and Rand. They have to tell us things we don’t know.
Also – while this is our first time in NYC, we have been running these events for the past few years (London, Boston, NOLA) as well as contributing to MozCon which has a very similar flavor. The attendees are telling us that what we are doing is different and is needed.
2.) Who is this conference for: hardcore SEO’s, newbies, brand marketers? You can’t answer “everyone” or I’ll stop liking you.
Definitely not everyone. I would say that experienced SEOs will get the most out of it. Newbies can learn a lot if they have thoroughly grounded themselves in the basics and are prepared to take away a load of notes for further study, but we specifically ask our speakers to go fast and deep into the advanced stuff. We get a lot of in-house guys coming as well as consultants / agency types and both get a lot out of it.
3.) I know you’re still working on the agenda, but what are people going to learn? Also, tell us about the format: lots of panels, labs, keynotes? I’m really hoping you’re going to say no panels over 3 people…
Pretty much all of our sessions are a single speaker going deep into the topic for at least 45 minutes. The only exceptions are head-to-head sessions where two speakers battle it out working towards a public vote and one live site review / live link building panel where typically Tom and Rand get on stage live to work with attendees’ sites. For the first time this year, we are also having a small number of places at a 1-1 site clinic in the breaks.
You can get the latest on the line up here: http://www.distilled.net/events/searchlove-new-york/ – we have some amazing speakers confirmed including Rand Fishkin and Wil Reynolds (who is not only from the East Coast but also rated higher than Rand or me at our last event). We have big US names like Michael Gray (graywolf), Laura Lippay and Bob Rains as well as some brits like Stephen Pavlovich and Mat Clayton who will knock your socks off. I’m very excited to hear them all speak.
We always have a big focus on link building and off-site techniques as these are so in demand. As well as that, we will cover on-site, keyword research, social media, analytics, new technologies and changes to the algorithms.
4.) Search nerds love parties. What’s the networking part of the show like?
Being a smaller show, we have great opportunities for attendees to hang out with the speakers and each other. As well as the exclusive party for attendees on the evening of Monday 31st (at the Aspen Social Club 157 West 47th Street), we have a small number of tickets left to an exclusive VIP dinner with the speakers on the Sunday night at Malloney & Porcelli.
5.) Give us an SEO nugget to tease the show: What’s a great eCommerce SEO tip?
I am currently enjoying applying some conversion rate optimization principles to SEO. In particular, using services like feedback army, usertesting.com or even mechanical turk to gauge how different segments respond to your site. Asking questions about how likely they are to share a particular page, whether they trust the site / its design etc. You can find that if you increase these things by just small amounts you see huge returns across thousands of product pages. As Google focusses more and more on trust metrics, I think this kind of approach will reap ever greater rewards.
Follow Will Critchlow on Twitter for SEO tips, @willcritchlow