PubCon Boston 2006

    April 21, 2006

PubCon Boston 2006 is in the books now. As such, I though I would put together a quick overview/recap of some of the more memorable points and quotes I found particularly interesting.

PubCon Boston 2006
Boston Pubcon… From Mike’s Perspective

First and foremost, congratulations are in order to Brett Tabke, Neil Marshall and everyone else involved in putting together another good show. The venue was great; plenty of space and ample accommodations but still quite personal. Even the weather cooperated and was near perfect (hard to beat Boston in the spring). Of course, most importantly, the subject matter and list of speakers were all top notch.

I must admit I was really curious – if not skeptical – when I first read about the keynote presenter being Malcom Gladwell. Not that I have anything against Malcom Gladwell of course, but he isn’t exactly an industry insider by any stretch. As it turned out, his was one the most engaging and intellectually stimulating presentations I’ve had the pleasure of attending at any conference. I think nearly everyone in attendance would agree that they left that keynote with a slightly different take on things that they could apply directly to their Internet ventures. Be sure to check out Lee Odden’s write up on the keynote. I haven’t read Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point but it’s on my to-do list. The WebmasterWorld guys are due a few more props for selling a few copies of Malcom’s book at the show and donating the proceeds ($3000+ after a matching contribution) to Katrina relief efforts.

In terms of messages for webmasters’ I took away from the conference there were seemed to be a couple of major thematic messages that seemed to span most of the sessions. The first being optimize your pages for people not search engine spiders, the second being linking schemes are bad, and third search engines want to communicate with us. Everybody has pretty much heard optimize for people’ a million times already so I won’t dwell on that too much except to say that it was a specific and explicit recommendation from pretty much every representative from every major search engine in attendance.

As for the linking thing I for one have been waiting for the gate to close on these things for some time. I’m really just surprised it’s taking the engines as long as it is to deal with these folks – but it’s coming. I have a distinct feeling that the hammer is getting ready to come down on link schemes in a major way in the very near future. Stay away and/or get away from them.

There were several good talks on linking strategies and how they should be done. Mike Grehan gave a nice account of things. In his presentation, he referenced Jon M. Kleinberg’s Hubs, Authorities and Communities study, which I’d read before, but recommend to anyone who hasn’t yet.

Eric Ward also has some outstanding guidelines for links. He actually made his presentation publicly available to anyone. You can find it here and I highly recommend reading it over very carefully. Eric has been working in link development (the right way) for about 14 years now. He knows what he’s talking about.

Frequent WebProWorld/WebProNews contributor Bill Hartzer also had some solid advise for link seekers. Bill reminded us; “your website’s content is ultimately responsible for it’s ability or inability to get links”. He also pointed us in the direction on an excellent thread on the subject at WMW title: “Link Development vs Traffic Development and Staying With the Times“.

Other than links-related issues, there seems to be a major focus on the development and/or enhancement of how search engines interact and communicate with webmasters. In Google’s case, there was the luncheon demonstration of their Sitemaps initiative by Vanessa Fox and Amanda Camp. The demo was followed by an interesting Q & A session where Matt Cutts made several references to Sitemaps being essentially the groundwork for future enhancements geared towards better dialogue between webmasters and Google.

Similarly, Yahoo’s Tim Mayer said, “the interaction between search engines and webmasters is much better than it was a few years ago” but admitted we are still short of where we need to be. Tim pointed at the Yahoo Search Blog and new products like Yahoo Site Explorer as evidence of Yahoo’s continued interest in establishing better rapport with webmasters.

Of course, what I took out of Pubcon Boston shouldn’t imply that these were the themes’ of the show. There are so many sessions and so many subjects discussed that what you get out of the show is entirely subjective depending on what tracks you choose to follow. That’s one of the big upsides of this conference. Well, there’s that and the fact that the last day is generally spent in a pub of some sort but I digress.

At the end of the day it was a great conference. I learned lots of new stuff and met all kinds of interesting people. Looking forward to doing it all again this Fall in Vegas. Congrats again to Brett, Neil, all the speakers and attendees for another great show.

Mike is a manager at iEntry. He has been with iEntry since 2000.