I asked SEMpdx Board Members, Advisory Board Members, and Conference Bloggers to offer their thoughts about our event…here’s what they said:

Mike Rosenberg: What a great event! A few days removed and I cannot think of one thing that really went wrong (and being one of the organizers with an ear to the venue that is a good thing). I believe we had our “best-year-ever” in many regards…most attendees, best speakers, most sponsors, great keynote (thanks Danny and Pixelsilk), great lunch (thanks WebTrends), tremendous Hot Seat, and the Closing Reception (thanks EngineWorks) ended the day on the perfect note (although it would have been nice to keep going, I know I wasn’t ready to go to dinner yet). I had to make tough decisions all day on which presentation to go to and we even had some controversy during my Social Media Marketing panel.

Ben Lloyd: I was infinitely proud of this year’s SearchFest. Realizing our goal of bringing Danny Sullivan to Portland takes the cake for me, but I am equally proud of just how well the event came together and how great the level of content and speakers were this year. The level of buzz around SearchFest speaks for itself (http://hashtags.org/search?query=sf09&submit=Search), and I heard time and time again from attendees who come from outside the SEM industry that they were amazed at the amount of practical advice they were getting even though search isn’t necessarily their job. I think it was great that SearchFest was able to bring a broad range of topics that are relatable across marketing disciplines and to Web marketing, but are also part of our job as search marketers. I’m looking forward to seeing how SearchFest will continue to evolve in the coming years.

Hallie Janssen: Like many of us who spend our time online as a living, I can easily get overwhelmed with the amount of data being streamed in to my inbox. It’s hard to keep up on the latest and greatest tips and tricks and tools for those tips and tricks. I thought the committee for SearchFest brought in the who’s who of speakers that helped me sort through the noise and get to the ‘real’ information I need to do great work for my clients. It was great to hear what these guys thought was important.

I also walked away with some black hat tactics from several sessions and panelists. Am I going to use those black hat tactics with my clients? Um, no! But I walked away with some ‘grey hat’ ideas that could easily be used. There’s something to understanding the black hat side of marketing and tailoring to fit your comfort level. I hope others in the room got that message and could move on from the ‘scary black hat stuff’!

Scott Hendison: Having so much knowledge crammed into the zoo conference center was electrifying, and being involved in my own small way with the event was a privilege and a pleasure.

I think we’ve broadened the visibility of Portland on the search marketing scene, and raised the bar considerably for future SearchFests, and I can only hope that next year brings us something just as successful – but it’s gonna be a tough act to follow.

David Mihm: Searchfest 09 was a truly amazing event to be a part of.  When we sent out feelers to the speaker lineup, I had no idea so many were going to say yes!  Obviously once Scott Hendison had convinced Danny to attend, everyone was a little more receptive.  But hopefully their experience this year will build some goodwill for 2010. 

The attendance was also phenomenal.  I met a couple of Local SEOs who’d come from places as far away as Kamloops BC (Steve Hatcher), Fort Collins CO (Cecily Crout), and Spokane WA (Ed Reese) — wow!  So cool.  Hopefully we can develop an even more kick-ass Local panel next year (I’m open to suggestions as to whom the attendees would like to see on the panel!).

Todd Mintz: The best analogy that I can make about SearchFest 09 was that it was like seeing a great band at a club show. We were able to provide the quality of a much bigger conference condensed into one day in an environment where the “A” list speakers were closer and more accessible to the audience. It was really nice reconnecting with our guest speakers that I don’t see that often as well meeting / renewing acquaintance with our members, local business people, and Silicon Foresters.

Tracy Chapman: SearchFest 09 was the best yet! As someone who helped plan the first SearchFest, I can without a doubt say that the conference has now reached new heights, especially with Danny Sullivan as the keynote speaker. I thought all of the speakers were amazing, smart, funny & informative and approachable.

I learned some great tips for Social Media Marketing, which is one area I’ll admit I’ve been a little bit behind in. For a long time I thought that all the social networking was “fun” but would be a waste of time for many businesses and I really avoided most of it as I’m pretty protective of my time, but now it’s obvious that it is key to developing business relationships, monitoring and building your brand, and gaining new customers. It really is a necessity in the online marketing mix, so I really appreciate all the sessions that were devoted to this topic.

Heather Lloyd-Martin: I suppose the thing that impressed me most was our speaker lineup. We didn’t just showcase our great local speakers (and we have quite a few.) There were also a number of nationally-known speakers, like Danny Sullivan, Stoney deGeyter, Tony Adam and Greg Hartnett, who flew in for the event. What that indicates to me is that the search community recognizes SearchFest as a strong conference presence – and that’s a great accomplishment after just a couple years.

Thanks to everyone who put this on, and for doing so at such a reasonable price!!

Mike Nierengarten: The event was great. Full of knowledge, news, and even some controversy. I especially liked John Andrews’ presentation (who always manages to think outside the box), Bob Garcia’s (whose alternative to the GWO ties directly into a current client concern), and the combination of Derrick from Microsoft and Laura from Yahoo explaining the difficulties faced in running SEO for the big conglomerates. All in all, a major step forward, and with each year getting better and better, Searchfest has a bright future.

Rachel Andersen: I loved that there was a good mix of in depth technical information for the SEM experts as well as broader topics for the marketing folks that may be new to the field. The speakers did a fantastic job at keeping the audience engaged and providing valuable insights in such a short (10 min) time period. With Danny Sullivan and Vanessa Fox gracing us with their presence, SearchFest 2009 solidified Portland’s influence and role in the SEM industry.

Can’t wait until SearchFest 2010…

Todd Mintz
Todd Mintz knows PPC...knows Social Media...knows SEO...knows Blogging...knows Domaining...and knows them all real well. He is the SEM Consigliere for 3Q Digital and is also a Director & Founding Member of SEMpdx: Portland, Oregon's Search Engine Marketing Association, and he can be found here on Twitter and Facebook.
Todd Mintz

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