Portland’s largest search engine marketing conference is coming up soon! SearchFest is organized annually by SEMpdx to provide search engine marketing education to all individuals. The conference is now in its 4th year and this year is slated to be the most comprehensive SearchFest ever with topics like Social Media Marketing, Advanced Search Engine Optimization, Local Search, Analytics, Paid Search Marketing and more. SEMpdx President, Ben Lloyd, took some time out for a Q&A with TMMPDX to talk about SearchFest and give us a preview of the upcoming conference happening March 9th at The Governor Hotel.
TMMPDX: Tell us how SearchFest got started.
BL: Our mission statement for SEMpdx is pretty straightforward. Put Portland on the map of search, and search on the map in Portland. Everyone in the SEMpdx organization is a practicing search engine marketer. Some of us own our own agencies, some of us work for ourselves, some of us work in-house. Several of us have been in the search industry for over a decade now. Putting together an event like SearchFest is one of the ways that we’re accomplishing our mission. The goal with SEMpdx and SearchFest has always been to bring in the people that we want to see and hear from so that we can learn something. So we work really hard at bringing together speakers, topics and panels that we can learn from.
TMMPDX: What sets SearchFest apart from other Portland internet marketing conferences?
BL: We truly feel that we focus on content and practical, takeaway advice more than any other conference. We challenge our speakers to deliver the goods and limit the self-promotion and sales pitches. This approach is a by-product of the search industry, which is fairly open about sharing new ideas and tips etc.
TMMPDX: How has SearchFest evolved over the past four years?
BL: Our first SearchFest event was pretty modest. It featured mostly local and regional speakers. Due to the work that SEMpdx has done over the years, we’re able to draw really great, highly recognized experts from around the country to present at SearchFest. If you compare our one-day lineup to other 3 and 4 day search conferences like Search Engine Strategies or Search Marketing Expo (SMX), you’ll see we have many of the same speakers and topics at a fraction of the cost. Last year’s keynote speaker, Danny Sullivan (of SearchEngineLand.com and SMX), is regarded by many as “the godfather of search”. Landing him as our speaker was a big coup for us as an organization and his appearance lended a lot of credibility to what SEMpdx has been trying to accomplish.
TMMPDX: Many of our readers have attended SearchFest before. Is there anything new or different happening this year?
BL: The first thing to know is that we’ve expanded to 3 day-long tracks this year. Social Media is a hot topic and there are so many parallels and intersections with search marketing that we felt we needed to expand the content so that we could dedicate a full track to social.
To that end, we’re moving to the Governer Hotel to give us more room. We’ve sold out back-to-back SearchFest’s so it was obvious that we needed to expand. Making the move has allowed us to offer more content and get more people in the door.
TMMPDX: Which sessions are you looking forward to attending this year?
BL: I’ll probably avoid the crowds in the social track for most of the day and get up close and personal with these:
The Keynote from Stefan Weitz, director of Bing; the SEO Tools session – Rand Fishkin is always great to see and I’m curious how these folks use tools in their own day to day practice; the analytics session “Measuring Online Success” should prove pretty valuable as well.
TMMPDX: When organizing a conference like SearchFest, is it a challenge to structure the sessions in a way that appeals to attendees new to search marketing as well as seasoned SEM professionals? Do you think the sessions will satisfy both groups?
BL: Generally speaking, yes it’s hard. At past SearchFests we’ve always tried to incorporate “beginner” and “advanced” topics but we found out something interesting – nobody likes to be labeled a beginner. So this time around, we’ve focused less on beginning topics like “what’s a title tag” and more on putting the fundamentals into practice. We feel that the content will suit the audience and the availability of multiple tracks means that attendees can choose their own areas of focus.
TMMPDX: Will you be presenting at SearchFest?
BL: When it comes to SearchFest – SEMpdx is a content curator. Nobody in the SEMpdx organization will be presenting content at SearchFest. SearchFest is our opportunity to learn as well.
TMMPDX: Is there anything else you want our readers to know about SearchFest?
BL: Mark your calendar – Tuesday March 9. We will sell it out again this year, so register now!
SearchFest is open to all individuals interested in learning the latest advancements in enhancing search engine performance to deliver more visitors and customers to your website. Register now for SearchFest using TMMPDX’s reader discount code, SEMPDXSFPR, and receive $30 off!
Category: Portland Marketing Events