O’Reilly has just announced a new conference called “Found”. The tag line for it is “Search Acquisition and Architecture Conference”. It will be held June 9–11, 2009 in Burlingame, CA.
It looks like the O’Reilly conference is trying to focus more on the developer side of things as opposed to the marketing side. Here is a little bit from their web site:
The way to online success is through being easily found in search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft Live Search. While developers have historically thought of search as a marketing activity, technical architecture has now become critical for search success. Found is the authoritative place to discover best practices for this nascent industry and gain a thorough understanding of why search-friendly architecture is absolutely mission-critical to businesses of all sizes. No spammy tricks. Just solid foundational coding tactics and actionable data that will ensure search engines can easily crawl, index, and rank your site’s content.
This is an interesting take on the subject. Although there is a lot to know about how to build a site to be crawlable, this seems to be ignoring the much bigger, more difficult problem of marketing a website. You can have the most crawlable site in the world but without other aspects of SEO like keyword research and link building, sites will not get any search engine traffic.
I actually don’t agree with the very first sentence on the website, which says: “Startups and enterprise-level companies are on an even playing field when it comes to being found in search, so whether you are an entrepreneur or a CTO of a large corporation, you need to know how to build search engine optimization (SEO) best practices into your development processes.” Enterprise-level companies do have a large advantage when it comes to search engines. They have websites that have been around a long time so Google will automatically rank them better. Since they have been around a long time, they have built up links, which help them rank. Also, large companies have brand awareness and trust, so people will naturally tend to link to them. Saying startups are on a level playing field just seems naive.
The new conference is being chaired by some well know people in this space, Vanessa Fox (formerly from Google Webmaster tools) and Nathan Buggia from Microsoft’s Webmaster Center. That is a good sign.
One thing I am worried about with this conference is the price. O’Reilly conferences tend to be expensive. For example the upcoming Money:tech conference’s standard price is $3295 for the 3 day event. Contrast this to Pubcon, which is $1299 for 4 days, or SES Chicago which is $1,995 for 4 days.
It will be interesting to see how the SEO community reacts to the new kid on the block.