What makes for a great SEO conference?

by on 14th October 2009

Returning from this year’s A4UExpo in London, We’re feeling a sense of inspiration and a renewed sense of vigour towards conferences in our industry. Shows like A4UExpo are great for the attendees, exhibitors and speakers. A really good conference can live a long and prosperous life, but why?

What makes attendees love a good conference?

Great content

It sounds obvious but it’s true. The speakers chosen to speak have an obligation to provide it, and the organisers have an obligation to choose the speakers who can. If attendees leave having learned new skills then the chances are they’ll have left sporting a smile. There is nothing worse than sitting watching a speaker work through slides that actually tell you nothing, or worse, talk you through the same points you heard last year. Content is king on your website and it’s king at a conference.

Good organisation

Are there signs giving directions to attendees who have never visited your venue? Are there plenty of staff on hand to steer you to the right room? Something that impresses at A4Uexpo are the little laptops that greet you at the door. You enter a reference code (sent to you via email) and your pass is printed and handed to you by the stairs. Perfect organisation from the second you enter the building.

Good food

Good food, though not the most important thing, can really add shine to a lunch gathering. The best experience (I’ve ever had) was SMX Advanced, with a full cooked meal, plenty of choice and table service to boot. The SMX team know how to cook a good meal!


Access to speakers and fellow peers to share and exchange ideas with is a godsend. The networking during the event and impromtu gatherings of new people and friends at the bar always lead to that inspired feeling that just wouldn’t exist without the event.

What makes exhibitors love a good conference?

Exposure to the right people

Exhibitors sponsor at a cost, so they need to know they’re in the right place. Check out this chart showing the attendee demographic at SMX East:

Who attended SMX East?

Plenty of leads likely to give good ROI

Capturing an audience who are attending to learn and purchase services offered by the exhibitors must be a difficult marketing challenge for a conference organiser. Once more, SMX provides some data on who’s holding the purse strings at their events:

Who's holding the purse strings at an SEO conference?

Industry blogger exposure

There are always a lot of industry bloggers walking around looking for a subject to cover. Service providers and vendors with a brand new product take note, face to face meetings at conferences with influential industry commentators can pay huge dividends for your product exposure.

What makes the speakers love a good conference?

A challenging panel

Though sometimes a little daunting, a challenging panel to test your “a-material” can exercise (or help you develop) your public speaking skills. It’s good to be invited to speak, and the skills you learn from your experience are invaluable.

Exposure to a large audience

A speaking engagement in front of a large audience can enhance your credibility and create awareness of your brand. It generates enquiries, links and new contacts very quickly.

A mix of all of the items above

Great food, new friends, other speakers you can learn from and great organisation really make the difference for speakers too. Organisers, take note more things to eat in the press room next time, speakers, bring your best material and attendees, make sure you give feedback on the event.


  1. I think the content and the talks are obviously very important.

    There’s nothing worse than listening to tired information that is currently widely available on blogs and forums already.

    I’d agree that speakers have a difficult task in knowing who they are pitching at and the level of understanding of the audience, but having attended conferences listening to speakers doing a general ‘cover everything’ in little detail is disheartening and not in itself worth the entrance fee particularly if you have some knowledge of how SEO works.

    I wouldn’t expect SEO’s to give away trade secrets but surely the onus should be on them to keep things fresh and provide value for money.

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