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September 17, 2007

Better SEO Training, Education Breeds Better SEOs

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Lee Odden started an important conversation last week asking if SES, SMX, and Pubcon Can Coexist peacefully or whether too many search engine optimization conferences will lead to a saturation of the market.

Personally, I think there’s absolutely no reason why these conference series can’t all exist in a state of perfect bliss. The industry is growing and we need all the education in search we can get. I say, bring on all the SEO training you can find!

It wasn’t so long ago that the only educational and networking opportunity available for search marketers was Search Engine Strategies. It was a big show that took place a few times a year, giving otherwise reclusive Internet marketers a chance to come together (and out of their caves), talk about the latest methods in search engine optimization and compare war stories. And when the industry was just starting out, that’s really all we needed. But times have changed. This industry is a whole lot bigger and more advanced than it was back then.

And the rapid growth that we’re seeing in search engine optimization training is part of that. There are plenty of conferences and educational opportunities available today. You have Pubcon and Search Marketing Expo and the DMA and SEMpdx and all the other smaller search marketing shows that take place throughout the year. As the industry has matured, so have the opportunities for SEO training and education. I don’t think you’ll find anyone who doesn’t think this is a very good thing.

I have no doubt that the abundance of search conferences will be able to coexist peacefully. I think we’re going to start seeing shows become smaller and more targeted, and you don’t have to look any further than the Search Marketing Expo conference series to see this in action. Danny Sullivan and his gang had their debut Advanced show back in June, then we saw SMX Travel and now we’re gearing up for SMX Mobile and Local and SMX Social Media. Each show is smaller, it’s more specialized. It gives off an entirely different feeling than the typical SES. It’s not as corporate or as intimidating.

To me, the niche shows are what the future of search conferences really is. I can’t help but wonder if SES will start to phase out some of their smaller shows (Chicago, perhaps) and concentrate on their flagship shows like SES San Jose and SES New York. I think SES will be where search marketers start out before graduating to SMX Advanced and the more targeted shows. I haven’t been to a PubCon yet (coming in December. W00t!), so I haven’t experienced the environment yet to know where that will fit in.

I look forward to the specialized shows. As search engine optimization becomes integrated into the marketing departments of large corporations, I’m sure we’ll start to see specialized shows targeted to inhouse SEOs. We’ll see more international shows and shows that are more region-specific. Shows that focus on specific verticals or industries, shows that that discuss either advanced search engine optimization techniques or stress the fundamentals, etc.

The best part of having multiple search conferences that take place throughout the year is that opens the door for new experts to emerge. It’s exciting to attend new shows and get to listen to and interact with new speakers. This industry could desperately use some new voices and new trusted faces.

In an industry that is as exciting and dynamic as ours, I don’t think we have to worry about saturating the space with too many conferences. There’s room for everyone, especially if you’re offering some type of specialized training opportunity, which is what I think we’re going to start seeing.





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