Which is the Best Webmaster Conference?

Wynn Hotel, Vegas

Las Vegas means ‘the meadows’ in Spanish. Who says Americans don’t do irony?

Presumably there’s no snappy Spanish word for “City of a million lairy middle-aged men staking the kids future on red, powered by Lucky Strike and JD, trying to get the missus up to bed pre-strip club, in the desert”.

Please correct me in the comments if I’m wrong…

Anyway, I digress. I was chatting about Vegas with Toni from Blifaloo.com. We were talking about WebMasterWorld’s PubCon event: is it worth the cost, how much can you learn, which is the best webmaster conference, why pitted olives are unavailable in the Wynn bars, why I will NEVER STAY AT THE LAS VEGAS HILTON AGAIN.

In the last few years, I’ve been to a fair few webmaster conferences: Search Engine Strategies, PubCon, Affiliate Summit etc etc. Unsurprisingly, different conferences work for different people.

I’ve been to PubCon for the last two years, and am heading back in 2008. It’s a 10,000 mile round trip from London, so that’s a pretty hefty endorsement.

I don’t learn a huge amount from every seminar. But the sessions that are good are truly exceptional (eg, Jeff Libert on domaining in 2006). Most importantly, PubCon is tremendous for networking.

Thanks to the weak dollar, the whole trip (conference ticket + flight + hotel) works out about the same price as the entry alone to SMX London. Plus it’s worth going to watch the Cuttlets gawp as Google’s spamhunter drops a -30 penalty live…

My other favourite conference is A4U Expo. The debut conference last year was possibly the best I’ve been to in terms of generating new ideas.

The conference grew out of affiliates4u.com (read: the British ABestWeb). After many years of informal pub meets, A4U started running a full blown conference last year.

The seminars are outstanding, with a huge amount to learn even for experienced webmasters and affiliates. There’s definitely no sales pitches disguised as seminars. It’s also a a steal: the two day conference costs £299, compared to, say, SMX London at £790 for two days.

You can read a few writeups of A4U Expo 2007 here: OneLittleDuck.co.uk, Moose on the Loose and Keith Bond.

I’m booked in for both this year. Leave a comment if you’re going and I’ll see you in the Wynn Parasol bar / post-A4U party (delete as applicable).

  • D Smith says:

    Nice article. Agreed Pubcon is the most fun. Having been to both SMX and SES I see SES as aimed more for beginners with a corporate leaning – as result some at smaller agencies or freelance folks may not come home with that much. SMX on the other hand can deliver more meaty material for the industry ‘pro’.

  • Richard Kershaw says:

    @ D. Smith – Never made it to SMX. Wanted to hit SMX Advanced in Seattle, but couldn’t make the dates in 2007/2008.

    SMX London last time around cost the best part of £1,500 for a ticket, if I recall. The cost this year is half that, but I’ll be out in the US then for my PubCon trip.

  • Toni says:

    Richard, actually I just wanted to know which WebConf has the best party 😉

    Good read.

  • Richard Kershaw says:

    @Toni – I’ll make a note for a future blog post…

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