I have learned a lot in the last couple of months.  Many good things – and a few that were only learned through near-disaster errors.  But hey – sometimes those mistakes make the biggest impressions, right?

Less than a year ago, I co-founded SEMpdx with a couple of colleagues and began marketing to local SEO/M experts that we’d either worked with or heard great things about.  Within weeks we had a full board of very energetic and enthusiastic people – anxious to get SEMpdx on the map.

I remember in our initial conversations hearing someone say, “We could even put on a full-day conference series with speakers from the major engines and top SEM firms.”  Sure, I thought – sometime down the road that would be great. 

But alas, when you put that many energized people together at a table, it’s hard to hold back.  Thus SearchFest was born.

Conceived, planned, organized, marketed, and presented in a period of about 3-months, I must say I am exceedingly happy about the overwhelming response we had from folks near and far.  Sponsors came out of the woodworks, presenters were eager to take part, and tickets sold like wild-fire, actually putting us in danger of running out of space (and food).

With three tracks ranging from the basics to leading-edge advanced topics, the speakers were exceptional and continue to receive praise from attendees.  Speakers at this year’s SearchFest included Rand Fishkin and Rebecca Kelley of SEOmoz, Jeffrey Pruitt of SEMPO and iCrossing, Matt McGee of Marchex, Heather Lloyd-Martin of Success Works, and a host of others (see below):

Tom Bennett – The new Group 
Sean Campbell – Campbell Solutions
Leo Chung – Overland
Stanford Davis – Straight-On Internet Conslulting
Stoney deGeyter, PolePositionMarketing
Eric Facas – Google
Scott Fish – FishSEO
Steve Gehlen – Internet Strategy Forum
Dan Harbison – Portland Trailblazers
John Anthony Hartman – Feedia
Doug Hay – ExpansionPlus
Scott Hendison – SearchCommander
Brent Hieggelke – Touch Clarity
Hallie Janssen – Anvil Media Inc.
Janet Johnson – SnapNames
Steve Kemper – Ion Global
Naga Krothapalli – Microsoft
Kent Lewis – Anvil Media Inc.
Ben Lloyd – Amplify-Interactive
Todd Mintz – S.R. Clarke
Stacy Morgan – LookSmart
John Rodkin – WebTrends
David Roth – Yahoo!
Dan Sundgren – eFrontier
Scott Swigart – Swigart Consulting

I don’t have the final count yet, but I believe attendance was just under 300.  Not bad for a first-time event with an expected turnout of 150-170 attendees. 

The event was great, but I expect SearchFest 2008 will be even better.  Keep an eye out – SEMpdx is taking over the Northwest.  If you’d like to be part of this powerful movement in the Pacific Northwest Search Engine Marketing world, visit the SEMpdx site at www.sempdx.org and signup for the newsletter.  Better yet, become a member and start contributing to this fantastic organization! (yes, as a VP at SEMpdx I’m a little biased!)