ionSearch – A Rising Force in Search Conferences

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On the 19th April, I will be joining Aleyda Solis, Andrew Girdwood and Chelsea Blacker at ionSearch (Leeds) to talk about Local SEO. It was great to be asked back to ionSearch, after sitting on the eCommerce panel last year, at the very first ionSearch conference.

Following on from the success of last year, I wanted to ask Fergus Clawson (below) a few questions about the up coming conference, and what he hopes it will achieve.

Fergus Clawson – MD of Blueclaw & Founder of ionSearch

What was the inspiration behind ionSearch?
I ran Techno rave parties in the early 1990s and I found bringing together like-minded people to share a passion had a profound effect on me and was one of the inspirations behind ionSearch. Techno music pushes the boundaries of sound and there are an infinite number of ways in which you can sculpt electronic music. Something similar can be said for SEO: Google’s search engine is an ever-expanding digital universe and that’s what makes it exciting.

So the inspiration for ionSearch is the quest to see how far we can collectively explore and then act on the various search engine algorithms that impact on our daily lives.

What were your expectations when you started out with ionSearch?
I think I had fears rather than expectations. Will the delegates turn up? Will the speakers turn up? Am I mad doing this? The first ionSearch was hours of hard work, promotion, blogging, tweeting and finally the conference itself. I feel we have conquered these fears now, which is a huge positive, however one must not become complacent, that’s the death knell of any activity. For ionSearch 2013 we’ve set the benchmark even higher, so there is no room for sitting back. I just hope those who attend ionSearch will get a great deal out of it, and will go back to their offices thinking: “Wow, I was glad I was there to experience it.”

In the build-up to ionSearch last year, there seemed to be some disputes with ThinkVisibility. Were they real issues or just blown up out of proportion?
There is no animosity towards Thinkvis, I think it’s fantastic that Leeds can support so many great events.

After the first ionSearch, what type of feedback did you receive?
Mostly extremely positive, especially the various blogger reviews post-conference. There is feedback you take action on and we will tweak a few aspects. Dave Snyder’s talk was the big hit of the 2012 conference, Dave’s ‘link apocalypse’ predictions are hitting hard in 2013, just look what has happened to Interflora!

ionSearch this year has arguably the best released speaker line-up to date. How did you manage to get so many great speakers in your second year?
The answer to this question is perseverance, determination and being nice to people. It is also a word of mouth thing, last year went well so this year most of the speakers we approached had heard of ionSearch so there was no need for the hard sell. Conversely, well-known speakers are approaching us directly this year to get a gig at ionSearch, which is a good sign that we’re approaching the conference in the right way.

What do you look for in a speaker for your event?
Actionable insight is the key driver in speaker selection. You also look for passion and expert knowledge. An inflated ego is definitely not welcome! Any slide deck that has ‘get shit done’ content is always a winner with me. A speaker should tell a story to the audience and be able to present it well with not too much fluff – for me that’s the art of public speaking.

What can we expect to see at ionSearch this time around?
Where do I start? Apologies for the slight sell here. There are now two days of action, three tracks each day featuring keynote talks, panels, workshops and plenty of networking!

The one SEO I really wanted to see present at ionSearch 2012 was Ross Hudgens and unfortunately he couldn’t make it. But Ross is flying in from Los Angeles to Leeds this year, that’s a big journey and his first speaking gig in the UK. His appearance alone is worth the price of a ticket, if you’ve read his blog then you’ll know what I mean.

Andrew Dumont (SEOmoz) will also be travelling from the US to speak at ionSearch, which is another major highlight. Richard Baxter, Marcus Tandler, Dave Naylor, Martin Macdonald, Kelvin Newman and Aleyda Solis will all deliver exclusive keynote talks. There will be also cutting edge keynotes from the BBC, Adobe, Hootsuite and Sponsors and media partners include Linkdex, SearchMetrics, RMoov, AnalyticsSEO ineedlinks, Media Skunk Works, The Drum and The State of Search. There are too many awesome sessions to mention here, but suffice to say if you love Search and Social then don’t miss ionSearch, it will be a cracker.

Thanks Fergus. So who is going to ionSearch? What are you most looking for? Let me know in the comments below.

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