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Webdev/SEO conferences need to catchup to reality

     
12:01 am on Jul 17, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Gotta love the timely value of webdev/SEO conferences:

Rand Fishkin will kick things off with his opening keynote, “Google: From Everyone’s Search Engine to Everyone’s Competitor”.

another sneak peek at the SMX East agenda [searchengineland.com]

Nothing like being a decade behind the curve...

I have been bemused by the inability of such conferences' usual suspects to speak to the cutting edge (never mind bleeding edge) of webdev since almost 15 years ago. Regrettably it has gotten worse over time with conference lag increasing from a year or three to five or ten.

As PubCon was the first and set a rather high bar back when it might be worth their cutting that lag differential so as not be as continually 'surprised' by known (at least outside of most/all the usual suspects and the webdev/SEO bloggerati) existing, often long standing, transitions . And having the gall to call them 'new'.

Webdev conferences, as currently constituted, are great for networking, good for describing what was hot in the past ('the emperor's new clothes') as state-of-the-art, fair at pointing out what (probably) works in the now, and bl**dy offal at readying their audiences for the future.

It doesn't need to be this way.
Of course the Google for traffic and Google for revenue masses seem to to love it.
As do the increasingly irrelevant tool makers for the above...
Nudge nudge wink wink.
2:59 pm on July 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Part of the issue with any conference is it has to serve its audience, and if that's what they want, fine.
There's also the issue of how technical do you want to get: Too much or too little. There has to be a balance.
4:00 pm on July 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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So the audience is mostly interested in history lessons?
9:14 pm on July 18, 2019 (gmt 0)

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History? Hardly.
Some topics at Pubcon this fall:
- Voice search data trends over the last year and how you can target them.
- How the 'local pack' and other local changes have radically changed local search
- How to get into the answer box and stay in the answer box.
- EAT realities - pushing the needle
- New mobile first indexing opportunities
- PWA as SEO

Much of that didn't even exist a few years ago and most of it is new/changed in the last six months.
1:30 am on July 19, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Brett: appreciate the reply. Pleased that PubCon is, at least in part, almost current in it's talks.
Note: I've gotten sooo depressed at yearly keyword talks; so 2010.

My biggest concern with conference talks (not only in webdev/SEO) is that there is an 'all the usual suspects' list of speakers, most of whom are or represent a purveyor of services or tools for the subject in question; bias and omission run rampant.

---voice search: almost no one speaks to the fact that most/all voice search metrics include IoT; rarely is web voice broken out.

---local pack is what? 6-years old (7-pack) 4-years (3-pack), in web terms a generation old.

---get in, stay in answer box. The question is there going to be discussion of whether getting into any of the 'boxes' is long term good? Or is Google simply going to extract the answers courtesy of everyone's diligent helping and then simply go the weather answer route? And what is the CTR on such in the meantime?

---EAT realities. The reality is that EAT is far from new. There has been a transition through several names with changes to what is included but the concept (in Google) has been around for what? 6, 7-years? And EAT, as a term, is a year old at least. Will be interesting to hear if the speaker gets it all correct, many/most commentators in the past year have been umm slightly to entirely out to lunch.

---new mobile first opportunities. Vague enough I'll leave alone except to point out that mobile first is a decade old concept and 5-years old as a Google thang.

---PWA as SEO. Oh my, now there's a rabbit hole I'll allow competitors to fall down unimpeded!

How about:
* privacy, both ethics and regulation around around the world. How to be compliant, how to turn the necessity to a marketing benefit.

* contextual delivery. Enterprise has been slowly moving this way for several years, some of us have been doing it to varying degrees for a decade. It is the future, increasingly the present.

* direct ad sales and affiliate relationships. The entry levels required, what is required, and how (and to whom) to sell your value.

* marketing strategies, other than ppc, on various SM platforms.

* how to rank (misnomer but concept understood) on multiple SEs at the same time.

* bot detection and mediation methods. Basic -> heuristics -> behavioural -> ML. Several levels of capability and expertise to speak to.
Note: 20-90% of site traffic is bots, JS analytics only identify about half; and dropping.

Please understand that I love the idea of PubCon and admire what you have built it into, it's just that I get tired hearing that it (and it's competitors) will be discussing things I was researching or trialling or putting into practice one or three or ten years before. Ah well iamlost :)
3:31 am on July 21, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Is there technical to SEO beyond title and CTR from search for said title anymore? I've done some testing and I'm not convinced. There's lots of foreign language videos with english titles in the top results for english searches on youtube too, especially in the adsense and SEO fields.

I'm going to dispence with being safe here, this needs to be discussed in 2019.

I think the most important SEO subject right now, which hasn't been discussed much, is being trusted as an individual webmaster. I think you can permanently wreck your "SEO" for all future content if you share opinions online which search doesn't appreciate, even if it's one post from a decade ago. We seem to be there now, especially with all these new direct to big tech "report this" features popping up(like the official one for Chrome google just released).

People are losing scholarships, acceptance to higher education programs, even miss world titles these days and for heavily biased "morality" reasons too, not legal ones. Losing search visibility would be childsplay in comparison and many say it's happened to them.

There exists entire floors of people reporting content they don't like within some parties today, social media has described "working with them" several times. Twitter even admited to penalizing people on the platform for things said off the platform. Can't do that without tracking individuals now can you.

I don't see any SEO conference having the nerve to tackle the subject objectively and without bias, yet. Just mentioning it in the forums often makes the mods cringe still. Big tech has teamed with gov to create censorship now, and it's not just in the US. Canada's liberal party calls theirs the "Censorship team", Trudeau revived the previously abandoned Canadian censorship section of the human rights act. Look it up before you label this post as conspiracy. It exists, who's directing it, funding it, and to what end does that impact webmasters without their knowledge?

Now there would be a discussion to have if shedding light on new SEO concerns is priority. Every webmaster needs to be aware of this in 2019, there is verbiage which is not to be used which they may have used in the past holding them down. Banned words are now stop words.

About me: I'm not an activist, I don't write anything political online for any website, I don't use social media and don't have a news site. These are my webmaster related opinions which I only write about here. I do worry that hitting post on this topic may bite me somehow, even if my content is absolutely non-political and non-biased to any demographic, but the secrecy surrounding this topic worries me. Morality police and social credit systems are not something I remotely expected when asked "in 10 years how do you see the net" ....forever ago.
1:53 pm on July 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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> list of speakers, most of whom are or represent a purveyor of services or tools

I get sometimes it can appear that way. We do everything we can to have talks be educational first and last. We actively weed out anyone who even hints at self promotion and never tie any speaking to any sponsorship or support. There is a serious wall between expo/sponsorhip sales and the speaking team.

That said, lets stop for a minute and realize that we are in an industry that is dominated by a company that has about a 95% market share. Everything we talk about when we talk about search, seo, or ppc is 100% about that company (Google). Ever talky, every slide, and every conversation about search is in relation to that dominance. There is zero chance to have an SEO conference that doesn't support Google in some way.

> bias and omission run rampant.

Yes, sometimes that is true. If we are talking about linking data and we have Moz, SEMrush, ahrefs, IM Ninjas, and Majestic on a panel, there is no way those speakers could not be biased in some way for their own product. However, who knows more about linking that those 4? Who is going to give more real world examples of how acquire, feed, and maintain links? (we still don't allow them to hark products).

>rarely is web voice broken out.

Biggest problem is that there is so little real world data.

Here it is 2019 and we have less quality data about search available to use than we did 20 years ago.

>in web terms a generation old.

It is radically different in the last 6 months. They move that little line about once a month.

We had a guy who did a big local search eye tracking study last September with 50 or so participants to generate a report for his ppt at Pubcon. It was obsolete 3 weeks later at Pubcon because there were so many changes to "local pack" (which is nothing like it used to be). GMB = Paid inclusion anyone? Which is yet another brand new ball game coming to a screen near you.

> And what is the CTR on such in the meantime?

Much higher than the first organic result.

> The reality is that EAT is far from new.

Still we have to talk about it. Many marketers have ignored it. The data in the QRG is a gold mine for optimization. People need fed on this one...


>decade old concept and 5-years old as a Google thang.

Google fessed up info about how they rendered and index JS for mobile. Talked about at Pubcon Florida and also on Twitter - they will talk about it more at Pubcon Vegas.


>PWA as SEO

See previous comment about mobile js indexing. How they index PWA apps is up for debate ...yet.


>* privacy, both ethics and regulation around around the world

We got into that on GDR last year and it was poorly attended. It's a marketing conference first. We do try to push the envelop here-n-there, but people come to lear marketing and leave policy and privacy issues for other conferences (it's just to big of a topic to do it justic with a panel or two)


> contextual delivery.

It falls into the broad sessions on RLSA remarketing, Contextual landing pages, device delivery... where it is talked about in the broad sense.


>direct ad sales and affiliate relationships.

We tried for years. Sessions were poorly attended.

>JS analytics only identify about half

Yep, the lack of data is concerning.
3:27 pm on July 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Thanks again Brett. Appreciate your taking the time to respond. Regretfully, PubCon and general info sites appear to have similar knowledge level contextual difficulties.

A friend laughingly told me my angst was showing much as I have been known to say in the Google fora. Will do my best to not let frustration keep reiterating the same rant.

Again, thanks and best wishes.