Today’s lineup at Pubcon seemed to be all about transparency. Whether it was Peter Shankman (@petershankman) talking about how companies need to get serious about customer service or Larry Kim (@larrykim) throwing down ways to hack AdWords, everything today was open, honest, and transparent.
Peter’s keynote was compelling, and filled as always with various tidbits of information, like the fact that 50% of corporate homepages contain a typo, and that the average attention span of a person under 20 is 2.7 seconds! He also made a rather bold prediction that the concept of liking, following, circling, etc. will be gone in 24 months. He said Yelp is irrelevant. While these might seem like audacious claims, I think he’s right, and here’s why. You shouldn’t have to indicate with a like or follow that you are connected to someone. If you retweet that person’s posts, check in with them on FourSquare, and are tagged in instagram photos with them, it’s pretty obvious that the two of you are connected. As much as I hate the concept of Klout, they’ve probably come the closest of any other service to understanding how these multiple connections and touchpoints connect you to others. I agree with Peter that this will be the future. Not so sure I agree that Yelp is irrelevant, but he’s certainly right that a repeat visit to a location is a far bigger (and more natural) indicator of “liking” a place than a review on some third party site. Peter couched his entire discussion in four main points of what a good company should be (transparent, relevant, brief, and top of mind), and in his words, “all you have to do to win customers is to not suck… because the bar is set very low.”
Next I joined Michael King (@ipullrank) and Larry Kim for their double session. Mike did a great presentation on personas and the importance of understanding users’ intentions, and then Larry threw down the gauntlet with his Hacking AdWords presentation – all about ways to peel back the layers of G’s algorithm for quality score, ad rank, and CTR to find the “unicorn” keywords. His transparency in how Wordstream has mined their data to come up with average CTRs by position and so much more was truly remarkable and incredibly useful.
The last session I attended for the day was the local search site clinic with Kristopher Jones (@krisjonescom), Greg Gifford (@greggifford), and Brian Combs (@BrianPCombs). The session was on the small side, but absolutely perfect because – while the panel was completely awesome in answering questions and directing the conversation – audience members also joined in with suggestions to the site owners brave enough to volunteer for site reviews. It was one of the most transparent, helpful instances of SEOs helping each other that I’ve ever seen; true camaraderie.
After that session, I returned to the speaker room to get a little work done, but instead ended up talking with Brian Combs, Bill Hartzer (@bhartzer) and Steve Floyd (@nawlready) for the rest of the day. We shared stories of consulting, politics, SEO, and more… it was one of many excellent conversations I’ve had at Pubcon, but once again, the conversation was so transparent, it was like we were all old friends already, even though we’d just met.
Finishing off the day was Gorgefest, a very fun dinner at Mulates restaurant, where I shared a table with the guys from LinkVehicle, Chris Boggs (@boggles), and several others, and we debated everything from the future of link building to the funniest keyword research stories.
After dinner, more transparency, as everyone (at least those still at Mulates) admitted that they weren’t Superman (or woman) and we all parted ways to get some rest and prep for day 3.