Among the leading speakers scheduled to present at Pubcon New Orleans 2013 is Ralf Schwoebel, founder and chief executive at Germany’s Tradebit Inc. We caught up with Schwoebel and asked himabout his sessions at Pubcon New Orleans 2013, and about what Pubcon has meant to him as a long-time speaker.
Pubcon New Orleans 2013, the premier social media and optimization conference, is only a month away — a week featuring over 150 top speakers, major keynote presentations, more than 100 panel sessions in at least six simultaneous daily topic tracks, a bustling exhibit hall, a pre-conference training program led by a dozen expert trainers, and the best networking events in one of the most exciting cities the world. Pubcon New Orleans 2013 will bring it all together this April 22 – 25 at the state-of-the-art New Orleans Convention Center for the year’s biggest and best new media and search marketing event.
Lane: You’ve been attending Pubcon for many years now. Which Pubcon was your first, and how didyou find out about it?
Ralf: My first Pubcon was Boston 2006 — but I have only missed one since then. I was following the event since I joined WebmasterWorld.com as a forum member in early 2002. Because I was pretty successful in the U.S. with my SEO work, I wanted to come and connect to English-speaking colleagues.
Lane: What has changed in your career since you first made the decision to come to a Pubcon conference, and do you think that Pubcon has helped your career advance?
Ralf: Reading up on SEO and online marketing on different forums or in e-mails is good, but getting industry leaders sitting down with you and showing you what they do over a beer is priceless. That happened at my first Pubcon and my business has developed nicely since then. I can directly connect the quality of my U.S. business ventures to the feedback I got from people at Pubcon who became real friends over the years.
Pubcon was also the first SEO event I spoke at, and I have been invited to other shows as a speaker since then. This helped my business in Germany as well.
Lane: Do you ever find anything during the week of Pubcon that sets it apart from other technology conferences?
Ralf: It is definitely the “pub” in Pubcon, that makes the conference special. Sitting down with people in the same industry, opening the laptops and digging into publishing processes, marketing ideas or simply well—or not so well—made sites is a key experience around the show.
Lane: What can you tell us about your recent involvement with the German Department of Economics and Technology?
Ralf: Our German government has started to put a lot of effort into improving our country for startups in the online marketplace. To streamline the legislative process, tax environment and education climate, the government under Philipp Rösler, the economy minister and vice chancellor, has formed a board of advisors with 24 entrepreneurs, professors and venture capitalists.
I have the major honor of being part of that board as an entrepreneur to suggest improvements from a practical point of view and answer to requests from the government. We are on the way to make Germany as attractive for software and online companies as Silicon Valley by improving the financial, legal and educational climate for startups in that field.
Lane: What do you have in store to share with Pubcon New Orleans 2013 attendees when you take part in the "On-Site Search Strategies & Tech Issues" panel alongside Magnifisites chief executive Todd Keup?
Ralf: As a site owner myself with a huge volatile marketplace behind it, I will give practical insights on all "on-site search" related questions like "speed," "user behavior dynamics," "big data handling" and how to improve the user experience with a few simple tricks. I want to make clear that "on-site search" is not just finding pages on a domain, but also a key technology issue to create fast, dynamic pages that satisfy users.
Lane: You’ll also be moderating a session during Pubcon New Orleans 2013, and taking part in a live interactive website review session. What do Pubcon’s site reviews offer attendees?
Ralf: This session is the fantastic chance to be reviewed by successful online experts, who fight with the same problems any webmaster has to put up with. You basically have the chance to get very expensive experts looking at your site and pointing out things you can fix and how to fix them — top consulting for free.
Lane: At past Pubcon shows you’ve sported fun outfits, such as the full Star Trek suit you wore at Pubcon Las Vegas 2007. Do you have any plans for similar entertaining stunts at future Pubcon conferences? Do you still own your Star Trek gear?
Ralf: Some nerd topics are just very close to programming computers and the world around "Star Trek" is one of these topics. My wife and I have just ordered new costumes for the latest Star Trek movie. The new movies spawn a new generation of fans, so we are safe with that topic. ;-)
This year for New Orleans I just created some new custom-made nerd shirts to wear, when the whole crowd goes out on Bourbon street — "Nerds On Bourbon Street" is the motto!
Lane: Where do you recommend a new online, search, or social media marketing professional starting out in 2013′s digital landscape turn to learn best practices as they begin their careers?
Ralf: That is a very complicated question. To really master the art of traffic and conversion optimization, one has to focus on a few topics first. Reading online only helps if somebody points you on the right track. Conferences like Pubcon are such a place. There are many speakers and attendees who are willing to share their insight. For anyone starting in that area: pick a few of them and do some social optimization first. Many of these attendees are willing to help. Most of them come from forums or sites they made successful by asking for help themselves.
Lane: What else would you like to share with Pubcon’s readers?
Ralf: If you go to Pubcon — and this might be true for other conferences as well, but it is especially true for Pubcon — you have to network with the people. Listen and ask. I have received consulting work worth thousands of dollars by just inviting a bunch of people for dinner or drinks, for example. If you are too shy to ask, you can always "bribe" the crowd with dinner invitations. ;-)
Thanks to Schwoebel for taking the time to share this advice and insight. Join Schwoebel and over 150 top speakers, including keynotes from major industry futurists, including Michael Slaby, Obama for America chief integration and innovation officer, and additional headlining keynotes by Dave McClure, noted venture capitalist and founding partner at 500 Startups, and Chris Pirillo, popular online entrepreneur and founder of digital culture company LockerGnome.
Lane R. Ellis