Barry’s Pubcon 2016

Last year I attended and spoke at the legendary Pubcon conference for the first time. I wrote about my experiences that year and how much I enjoyed the whole event.

This year I wasn’t sure if the event could hold up to the high standard that was set in 2015. But I shouldn’t have worried; it was once again a superb conference, and we had a truly great time in Las Vegas.

I was asked to give two talks this year: one as part of the Tech Issues session and another in the Site Security session. All my sessions were in the same room, which looks like this when empty:

Empty Pubcon room

When it’s full of people, however, it’s suddenly a lot more intimidating – especially when you see some of the SEO industry’s biggest names sitting right at the front.

Full Pubcon room

My first talk was about Google AMP, which I see as one of the major technical SEO challenges of the moment and something every SEO needs to keep a sharp eye on. I’m conflicted about AMP; on the one hand I see its enormous potential, but on the other hand I don’t feel the web needs yet another new standard – especially one controlled in large part by Google.

In my talk I discussed the basic principles of AMP and dissected an AMP page to show how it works. I also discussed the way Google is putting a lot of effort behind AMP to encourage widespread adoption. See my slides here:

In that same Tech Issues panel, Dawn Anderson gave a stellar talk about crawl budget and URL importance. Dawn likes to read research papers and patents in her spare time, and as a result she’s learned a lot about how Google’s crawlers work.

Her talk was nothing short of amazing, and has lead to a very deep rabbit hole for SEOs like myself to follow and learn more about Google’s crawling processes. Make sure you have a look at her slides here.

After that first session I moderated a session on site speed, which featured three amazing talks from Ian Lurie, Jenny Halasz, and Fili Wiese.

Then after a lunch break I was back on the podium for my second talk of the day about site security. In this talk I showed how you can use Google to find vulnerabilities in websites, and how website owners should protect their websites from such basic reconnaissance methods.

The slides from my talk feature several Google queries that you can use to find potential security flaws in your site – it’s worthwhile doing these on your own sites to see just what kind of information you might have out there without realising:

Pubcon’s official photographer managed to catch me in the act during this talk:

Barry in action at Pubcon

In that same session, Kristine Schachinger gave a very solid talk about WordPress site security, which you definitely need to check out if you run a WordPress site.

After that session my Pubcon duties were fulfilled and I could enjoy the rest of the conference at my leisure. And I did – I watched many great talks and enjoyed wonderful conversations with all kinds of awesome people like JP Sherman, Tobias Fellner, and Dennis Goedebuure.

After the social event on Tuesday night a group of us went out for dinner together – Aleyda Solis, Eric Wu, Purna Virji, Wissam Dandan, Marty Martin, Dawn Anderson and her hubby John, Rob Woods and myself:

Dinner out with awesome Pubcon people

We had a wonderful dinner and afterwards I probably had a few too many drinks at the Breeze Bar in Treasure Island. But hey, that too is part of the Vegas experience, right?

On Wednesday evening after the conference, the 4th annual US Search Awards were held in conjunction with Pubcon. As I was a judge for these awards, my wife and I were invited to the awards event. We got all dressed up and made our way to Caesar’s Palace where the awards were being held.

US Search Awards

It was a wonderful evening in a great venue, and we had a lot of fun. We met plenty of new people and hung out with long time industry friends. Seeing my name on the list of judges is a personal highlight of my SEO career:

US Search Awards judges

The following day, suffering from a rather epic hangover, my wife and I decided to participate in the Kerboo Tournament of Champions – a fun set of activities organised by Dom Hodgson and Paul Madden. Our good friends Sam Noble and Ben Norman from Koozai also participated, as did Jon Henshaw from Raven SEO. The goal was to accumulate points through various games and activities across several, ehm… interesting locations in Las Vegas.

We started with three rounds of bowling at The Orleans, which was the highlight of the day as far as I was concerned as the points I scored there would be pretty much the only points I’d win that day. Then we moved on to Circus Circus for a dozen different games in their Carnival Midway, before heading to Fremont Street for some food.

Needless to say, at the end of the day when we tallied up all our points, I was dead last. Thus I won the not-so-coveted Loser trophy, which now graces a shelf in my office.

Kerboo TOC Loser trophy

Despite my embarrassing loss, it was a great day spent with wonderful people and a fitting end to our amazing time in Las Vegas.

Kerboo Tournament of Champions selfie

Once again Las Vegas in general and Pubcon specifically were amazing. It’s such a great gathering of the search marketing industry and definitely one of the highlights of my year.

I’ve not much time to suffer from the inevitable post-Pubcon blues, as I’m off to Dublin to speak at the Learn Inbound event. I hope by then the last remnants of my jet lag will have faded.

Conferences, SEO

Comments

  1. Great post Barry it was a pleasure to chat briefly with you, and I loved your AMP presentation + Dawn’s was something I need to watch 3 more times to begin to grasp some of the advanced recommendations she delivered.

    I hereby submit an application for next year’s Kerboo games…

    Also I assume you have read this interesting AMP defense (spelled properly for you) but here are some more AMP relevancy points: https://www.alexkras.com/google-may-be-stealing-your-mobile-traffic/#comment-55336 :)

    Reply »

  2. Thanks Chris, was great to meet you too! Dawn’s presentation will keep many of us occupied for months. :)

    Thanks for sharing that link – interesting article (and I agree with the expressed sentiment to a large degree) and interesting reply from that developer too. Lots of pros and cons to consider, but I suspect we won’t have much choice but to hop on to the AMP bandwagon.

    Reply »

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