Search Engine Strategies (SES) Conference and Expo in Toronto last week was a delightful immersion in my chosen fields of expertise - Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Optimization.
I dashed from one workshop to the next - from a clinic where participants offered up their sites to be dissected “live” by experts, to link building and B2B search panels. (Plus caught all that coffee break/after-party buzz.)
I’m probably going to need lots of blog posts about my SES experiences, but here is my attempt at rounding up my best takeaways from the show:
Always be testing
That’s the name of a new book - subtitle: “The Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer”) - by Bryan Eisenberg of FutureNow. He was schilling it as a SES keynote speaker (in place of decent new information, methinks.) Testing was a big theme at SES ‘08, including workshops on A/B testing, multivariate testing, and at booths within the SES Expo - including (natch) Google with its Website Optimizer (kinks worked out, they said).
Local and universal search
The learning tizzy included Local Search, Universal/Blended Search; Video Search; Vertical Search… Local search is a relatively new area of expertise but, being tenacious folk, we SEO are cracking it!
Social media: honest conversation or covert branding?
As important as the trend of social sharing (photos, videos, bookmarks, contents, etc.) clearly is, how and why businesses exploit social media for its own purposes is up for debate.
Fellow social media panelists at SES couldn’t agree, for example, on whether a “character blog” (the made-up stories of a brand character, say Tony the Tiger) is more ethical than a “flog” (fake blog) wherein a company pays, or makes up, happy customers of their brand. Just typing this clarifies the confusion…!
SEO experts throw their white/black hats in the ring
Panelists at more than one session were against - or for - various techniques, especially around link building. Thumbs up and down were flashed for reciprocal links and link buying. Generally, white hats prevailed over black hats during the conference (at least the day I was there). There was, however, a soft ‘boo’ emitted at one web marketer panelist who advocated seeding a site with your own and friends’ comments!
B2B lacks instant gratification like B2C
Search Engine Optimization for B2B is just as important as it is for B2C, but if the SES conference was any indication, B2B still lags behind in SEO/SEM efforts. The sparsely attended “What’s Different About B2B?” workshop was testament to that; a shame - it contained great best practices. One B2B vendor, ATS Automation Tooling Systems, shared its organic search success. (Not much to look at as a site, but trying Googling their product names!)
Sea of female faces… for a change
There are many women in the SEM/SEO field,” observed Motoko Hunt of AJPR. (Her Connecticut-based firm specializes in Japanese-language SEO for US companies.) Maybe that’s because SEO/SEM isn’t just about technology, it’s about conversation - something women excel at!
More highlights and learnings from Search Engine Strategies to come!