The quickest way to get up to speed in search marketing is to attend a conference. For a crash course, here are several excellent choices:

  • Search Marketing Expo (SMX). Run by the most experienced search conference organizers in the business, Danny Sullivan and Chris Sherman, SMX is the most popular search conference. You’ll find numerous events each year at a city near you, aimed at newbies and veterans alike.
  • PubCon. More technical than SES, catering more to Web developers and affiliate marketers, PubCon (now officially called “WebmasterWorld’s World of Search”) grew out of after-hours networking at the various search conferences into a three-day event that stands on its own, held a couple of times each year, with one always in the United States. For Webmasters and other technical experts, this event is the valuable one for solving problems, learning new techniques, and keeping up with where the search marketing is headed.
  • Search Insider Summit. MediaPost offers a smaller conference focused on the business side of search held in resort locations a couple of times a year. This conference is a great way to combine business and pleasure.
  • Search Engine Strategies (SES). The longest-running search marketing conference, SES is held every few weeks throughout the year in cities around the world. Each conference lasts two to four days and features sessions for both novice and expert search marketers. Many of these events are now moving to the ClickZ name and are becoming broader digital marketing conferences.
  • ad:tech. A very large event devoted to online advertising, ad:tech has added search engine marketing segments in recent years. These introductory sessions are targeted at marketing managers and advertising agencies that want to start learning search marketing. ad:tech is held for three days several times each year in cities around the globe.
  • eMetrics Summit. Jim Sterne holds the definitive conference on Web metrics and analytics in several locations around the world throughout the year. This conference is broader than just search marketing, but all search marketers must understand metrics to be successful.

Any of these conferences is a great way to learn more about search and related areas–and they usually include a vendor area that helps you to find companies that can help you with your search marketing efforts.