Lee Odden

10 Secret Benefits of Attending SEM Conferences. Shhh.

In the past I’ve written about the benefits of attending Search Engine Strategies conferences with tips on gaining knowledge, finding new clients and employees, networking with others and even as a resource for generating content.

However, there are even more benefits you can gain from going to conferences like Search Engine Strategies, Pucon and SMX that you may want to consider, albeit with your humor hat on:

  1. Competitive intelligence – As you play the meet and greet game, you’ll undoubtedly run into employees from competing firms. Be sure to ask lots of questions. Smile, be friendly and engaging. Remember how important it is to be a great listener and remember: Loose lips sink ships! Also be sure to get PPTs from direct competitors, especially from their “new” speakers, who tend to want to impress and often include more information than they should. Also, some speakers don’t provide the conference organizer with copies of their PPTs. Don’t let that stop you! What do you think that pocket camera is for?
  2. Sales Training – Not really, but sorta. If you’re breaking into an aspect of search marketing that is somewhat new to you, pay attention to how your better versed competition explains themselves, their company and services, I mean advice, during presentations. The fact is, metaphors, analogies and a good story can go a long way towards explaining complex or unique SEM topics when you’re selling. Why bother making up your own when you can steal (argh, I mean borrow) them from the competition? (Reworked with your own information of course.)
  3. It’s a Vacation! – Convincing your boss that the next Search Marketing conference will infuse your brain with super secret SEO ninja knowledge might just get you closer to that partially all expenses paid mini-vacation to New York, Seattle, San Jose, Stockholm (don’t you have clients with Swedish sounding names?), Bejing or even London. Pull that off and you’re famous. At least until you get fired because you went to too many parties and didn’t pay attention during sessions.
  4. Cool Schwag – Fun stuff from popular search engines and the exhibit hall floor makes you the popular one back at the office or at least with your kids.
  5. The Secret Society – Psst. I’ve heard there’s a secret society of SEOs called the “Mad Hatters”. You can tell who’s a member by their really red eyes in the morning. Well, you won’t actually see them in the morning, but when you do, watch the eyes. The secret password is, “Need some aspirin?”
  6. Google Dance – When else will you be able to visit the Google campus and bother their Engineers with questions about duplicate content and if there’s any problem with hosting 3000 versions of your site under different domain names as long as each site scrapes 48.5% of the content from different blogs?
  7. Client Warm Fuzzy – Get your clients to come see you speak so they think you’re still worth paying for even though you haven’t personally worked on their account in months. Shame on you if anyone really does this.
  8. Fuel for Linbait – Follow famous SEO bloggers until they do something embarrassing and take a photo for use as linkbait on your sorry ass blog
  9. Free Beer – Suggestion compliments of Thomas. Actually, there’s less and less “free beer” as the engines pull back on festivities budgets. It’s good thing WebmasterRadio.FM is there to save the day.
  10. And the Number One Secret Benefit of Attending SEM Conferences Is? – You can stalk Matt Cutts.

Obviously these are tongue in cheek, but I think you get the idea. BTW, if you see me or the other TopRank team members at SES San Jose later this month, be sure to say hello.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Great post lee, something i shall bare in mind for the first time i go to a conference 😉

    P.S stay tuned on our blog tomorrow where you get a mention

  2. You might wonder where everyone is if you’re going to San Jose next week. Personally I’ll be there in 3 weeks 😉

  3. This post is a blast! Attend search marketing conferences for total immersion. Thanks Lee, see ya’ in San Jose. Will you be visiting Napa on this trip? 🙂

  4. Next week – ah yeah. I must have been thinking of my vacation. 🙂 It’s cool/not cool that these RV parks have wifi.

  5. vacation+cool=off button 🙂

  6. [email protected] the secret password. And yay to free beer.

  7. Avatar Jason Bartholme says

    Also, you get to meet the legends in the industry. I attended SES Chicago last year, and I talked with some real big players.

    They congregate in the bars.

  8. “…Pull that off and you’re famous. At least until you get fired because you went to too many parties and didn’t pay attention during sessions.”

    Thanks for pointing that out so promptly of you, yip, the best thing about conferences is the end of day drinks and then hitting the major town. I’ve heard the Mad Hatters are recruiting, planning to join Lee?

  9. I like the warm and fuzzy tip. That’s definitely a classic one! By the way, excuse my newbiness, but what’s PPT? Powerpoint presentations?

  10. Avatar Erica Forrette says

    Honestly? Some of the tips are for real! Especially the competitive intelligence one (but not the part implied about taking pics of powerpoints not otherwise provided.) I personally like to walk the exhibit hall floor, meet the competition, and grab their sales collateral etc.

    Also, I’d like to give a shout-out to the folks at Webtrends who also usually have a really cool cocktail party type gig at the end of the first expo-hall day, complete with awesome blue Webtrends martini glasses!

    And free schwag is a bonus for the officemates back home, for sure!

    See you guys in San Jose, (shamless plug alert) stop by and say hello to Adapt!

  11. Avatar eshop600 says

    Free beer is always a winner!

  12. Avatar cajarrell says

    Shhhhh! Way to spill the beans. Man I hope my boss doesn’t read this.

  13. Hey Marty, I won’t be hitting Napa unfortunately. TopRank is a media sponsor of SES San Jose, so we’ll be focused on covering the conference, interviews, etc. It sounds like a great idea though.

  14. Avatar Bill Arnovich says

    Also make sure that if you are a media relations person,to bring handfuls of business cards. Before the conference, make up special ones like I do that carries a signature line like mine ONE HELL OF A NICE GUY! Its a great door opener, it creates immediate buzz and laughs and makes anyone reading smile.

  15. That’s definitely a classic one

  16. Avatar ciceksepeti says

    yeap claasic one right

  17. Avatar ciceksepeti says

    yeap claasic one right


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