Recap – Pubcon Las Vegas 2006

Just returned on Friday from Pubcon Las Vegas. Vegas is the place to be if you are drinking and gambling … and if you’re not (as I wasn’t), it’s all kind of odd. I had the Scrooge-like realization on the return flight that it could have been Salt Lake City for all I cared. šŸ™‚

It was nice to see Brett Tabke (WebmasterWorld) and Danny Sullivan (SearchEngineWatch) on stage together, since they have run parallel and competitive sites and conferences for many years (with Danny moving on to something new next year). It was cool that Sullivan showed up, and I’m sure it helped attendance.

Of the keynote speeches that I saw (Guy Kawasaki, John Battelle, Danny Sullivan), Danny’s was my favorite. A lot of it was historical review of the search industry (with Danny having seen it all), but he also argued interestingly that the diversification of search companies into other kinds of advertising has had an obscuring effect on the measurable success of core, intent-based search. Danny also got in a couple of good shots at Y!: an earnings joke (fair enough), and a screenshot full of spammy results (I recuse myself from comment on that one). Battelle’s talk was interesting, and he is a great public speaker. He did, however, explore the risky edge of using the bully keynote pulpit for sales purposes, by devoting a lot of his speech to case studies from his own Federated Media venture.

The panels I was on seemed to go well. Frankly, I wasn’t sure that what I presented at the Site Structure for Crawlability panel was news to anyone, but the Duplicate Content panel seemed to generate a lot of discussion. Brian White from Google gets the good sport award for his starring understudy role on the crawlability panel. šŸ™‚

The Yahoo! Publisher Network Party was fun, fabulous&glamorous and also seemed, um, expensive. (Sorry, that’s just the stingy and bitter shareholder in me talking. šŸ™‚ ) It’s a marketing question I guess (and therefore way beyond my expertise), but I’m interested in the impact on your customer base of admitting 100 to the exclusive party, and turning 500 away. If you’re one of the 500, does it make you think that the hoster is a really cool company who you should try even harder to impress? Or does it just make you mad?

The biggest news, of course, was the Open Sitemaps announcement (here’s the Y! blog post and the Google blog version). The idea of engines reading a common sitemap format from webmasters is so cool and sensible that you know it must have taken a lot of work behind the scenes to get these large companies to come together on it. Props to the Google Webmaster Central people, and to Priyank Garg, who made it happen from the Y! side.

What did I miss? Unfortunately, quite a bit. I really wanted to see the Interactive Site Review session (always fun). But while 1000 people watched that session in a brightly lit room, I was the only person in a similar room next door, sitting in the 35th row or so, talking on my cell phone in the dark. šŸ™‚ And the conference was basically over for me on Thursday night, as I had to leave earlier than I’d planned. Among other things, this meant that I missed the Pub day on Friday. This is the second time I’ve been to Pubcon, and both times I’ve missed the Pub. Can I really say that I’ve been to Pubcon yet?