SEOktoberfest is a celebrated 8-year-old SEO conference, which lives up to its nearly mythological reputation in the digital marketing world.
Back-to-the-future brainchild of German SEO software savant and entrepreneur Marcus Tandler, an exclusive cadre of 25 speaker “Experts” and 25 attendees gather downtown each year during Münich’s vibrant Oktoberfest celebration.
Colorfully clad in conference-provided authentic lederhosen and full-on Bavarian dirndl dresses, 2015 speakers and attendees tore the hell out of the conference podium and Oktoberfest beer tents. Good citizens of Münich go #GAGA during Oktoberfest, literally wearing traditional garb to work. Together we exclaimed, “PROST!”
It’s virtually impossible to purchase one of only twenty-five steeply priced passes ($3X the cost other conferences) to attend. Being offered the rare chance to even purchase a pass is contingent on speaker-experts voting after you “Apply.” Several “Attendees” were storied speakers themselves including Bruce Clay and Brian Hale. That I was invited to be an expert speaker this year is one of the great honors of my career to date. That’s how good SEOktoberfest is. No, not just good…f*cking incredible.
Expert speakers represented a veritable who’s who in search and social marketing circles. Let’s face it. Now in 2015, every marketer and their brother have hung a shingle — portra
Legendary marketing players like Dave Naylor, Dennis Goedegebuure, Alex Schultz, Aleyda Solis, Kristopher B. Jones, Joe Sinkwitz, Duane Forrester, John Shehata, Carolyn Shelby, RSnake Hansen, Marcus Tober, Joost de Valk and Cindy Krum graced the speaker roster. Simply put, SEOktoberfest is easily the most exclusive insider digital marketing event in the world. Pay whatever it costs if given the opportunity (and I don’t say that lightly).
A Secretive SEO Sharing Society
SEOktoberfest’s session content is highly secretive, with good reason. Information tendered can bring a search engine, CEO, ex-wife, politician or government to its knees. There’s no tweeting, blogging or publication whatsoever of what’s taught and learned allowed. As such, there are no conference session images in this article.
Ranging from total, gut-wrenching black hat SEO-kill techniques to lovely tactics actionable by the squeakiest clean terms-of-services-conscious goody two shoes; speakers shared radical shit on the condition of total discretion. Honestly, my jaw was dangling around my ankles for a good portion of the program. Obviously this is not my first rodeo. I was still freakin’ blown away. Everyone was.
Epic German Beer Party Hacking
The partying (somehow) is even more prodigal than guerilla SEO content proffered. Conference hosts generously share generations-deep relationships with the hottest of Oktoberfest 14 tent owners, which is where the real beer, oom-pah band, bratwurst and sauerkraut soul action happens.
Yep, we were in Münich, Germany during Oktoberfest. Locals and tourists alike drink beer everywhere, open bottles and glass, right out in the open, 24/7.
One night we were partying in the same tent as Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Terminator himself. German beer is potent, deadly even, served to individuals in pitchers, flowing like tap water. I didn’t even try to keep with the intense speed of epic beer consumption, as night after day after day, my conference comrades partied deep into the night.
Generosity is a 360-degree mentality. As an added layer of goodness, each year SEOktoberfest dedicates one entire day from the experience to share hard-core digital marketing tactics whilst raising money.
We helped raise money for charity, including food shelves in Munich (servicing thousands of hungry souls) and saving a rain forest. Marketers flock from all over Europe, after bidding online for weeks to spend the whole day with all SEOktoberfest Experts and Attendees. Held at Andechs, a working Monastery-brewery conference center where entrepreneurial monks make and sell beer, attendees included marketing rockstars like Jackie Hole, 2013 European Search Personality of The Year.
Reflecting On SEOktoberfest, 2015
Leaving Münich on this KLM flight to Amsterdam and onto St. Paul, I am moved at the privilege of being part of such a vital, intelligent, congenial and massively talented group. It’s been many years since experiencing this blessed level of solidarity, love, sheer competence, heartfelt openness and humor. Honestly SEOktoberfest represents a congenial, insider camaraderie, long lost in our industry. This is the closeness I used to feel at SEO conferences.
I polled my brothers and sisters via the closed SEOktoberfest Facebook group to gauge sentiments from this year’s players. Here’s what a few had to say:
Dennis Goedegebuure, VP Growth & SEO at Fanatics, Inc.: The most intense 72 hours what you can call a conference, packed with learning, amazement and connecting with the smartest people on the planet. SEOktoberfest has been my must go conference for the last 5 years, and I feel incredibly humble and privileged to be part of this group and call you all friends!
Michelle Robbins, Vice President of Technology at Third Door Media: I’ve been privileged to speak at SEOktoberfest for the last four years, and each time I walk away inspired by the knowledge shared, motivated to pursue more, and humbled by the generosity of spirit the other speakers and attendees bring. Unparalleled networking with top minds in the field, combined with breadth and depth of topic knowledge shared, make this event an annual highlight.
Sridhar Sharma, Digital Entrepreneur & Investor: Super bright minds, cutting edge digital thinking , unparalleled generosity and a beautifully curated program over 72hrs. …The result … Incredible ideas for the year ahead and a blast of a time!
Kristopher B. Jones , Serial Entrepreneur: SEOktoberfest is the digital marketing world equivalent of Burning Man. For 4 days attendees literally become Bavarians. We go to Munich as locals, not tourists and we test the outer limits of our intellectual and physical abilities on stage, during epic off the record one-on-one’s, and of course at the infamous Oktoberfest festival. We are treated from start to finish as VIP’s and end up drinking lots and lots of beer (and Radler), while singing and dancing to German and old school American Rock music. Each year we dedicate one entire day from the experience to raise money for charity. We’ve raised hundreds of thousands of euros for very special charities and each:#brother and #sister is beyond humbled to be part of the entire SEOktoberfest experience. We leave wanting more.
Christoph C. Cemper: If you can visit just one conference a year it’s this. Oh wait, it’s actually an insider gathering, not just a simple conference. Once again got my value / ROI after 2 hours into the talks, like the last 5 years before.
William Sears,Sr. Manager, Digital Marketing & Optimization, Disney Interactive: William Having attended, and spoken at, a wide variety of great search/social marketing conferences — all of which were wonderful in their own right — I can state unequivocally that SEOktoberfest stands alone. It’s incredibly exclusive; the first step is to even know that it exists. The next is to catch the attention of the #brotherhood though your deeds, and build and nurture those relationships. Once you’re in, fasten your seatbelt, because you are in for an incredible experience. While presenting on stage, be prepared to be interrupted by a raucous crowd of razor-sharp minds, challenging your assumptions and pushing you to up your game. You’ll be pressed to give the very best you have to give, doings so knowing that your words are safe and won’t be repeated. And then, as you sit in your chair nibbling on a pretzel, your mind will be blown as you listen to the very best of the best revealing what they’ve been working on for the last year. (The presentation instructions are “tell us something we haven’t heard before”.) As your brain cells tingle and your brains swells with ideas you plan to tackle your first day in the office, you can’t help but be more enthused about SEO than you ever were before. And that’s just the beginning. The endless ad-hoc 1-on-1 conversations with fellow attendees, whether in the conference room or at the beer garden, allow you to bounce ideas and dive deep on anything and everything. Now wrap all that intellectual challenge and stimulation in the uniquely Bavarian Gemütlichkeit (look it up) that Marcus Tandler and his crew bring to their labor of love, and you’re beginning to scratch the surface of this truly one-of-a-kind conclave.
Fili Wiese, Search Brothers SEO Consultant and Web Developer: This conference is not just a conference, it’s an elite gathering of the brightest minds in the industry paving the way to what will be next in the industry. SEOktoberfest has been my must-go event each year for the last 4 years (ever since I left Google Search Quality as Googlers are not allowed) and I always look forward throughout the rest of the year to catch up with my SEOktoberfest brothers and sisters. The topics discussed and knowledge shared at SEOktoberfest are unparalleled to any other conference I have gone to, ever! #Brotherhood #Strong
Markus Tandler is one of the most gracious conference hosts in the world, an unselfish visionary, so generous and supportive. It’s easy to see why SEOktoberfest is renowned. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and learn from this fine community. I’m humbled. To the experts and attendees met, shared with and interacted amongst: You are the smartest marketers on earth.
Thank you. Prost! #Brotherhood, #Sisterhood, #Strong!