At my European case study track at SES, Jaron Schaechter, a co-speaker and German entrepreneur suggested that the UK, Germany and Netherlands were at "SEO 2006".
I respect Jaron's opinions. He's a smart man. I disagree with this assessment, though.
He wasn't alone though. A number of the US visitors - the first time visitors to London SES - noted how high level some of the presentations were. It's something that Nan Dawkins and I had a chat about in the small Hilton bar afterwards.
SES London tends to be composed of Search people - agencies, freelancers and in-house teams. It's increasingly rare to find any 'clients'. That's the been the trend for a while. As a result of this the native UK speakers do not tend to show off their good stuff. Much of Search - especially SEO - is about your IP and agencies tend to guard that. None of the UK agencies who spoke even hinted at the advanced or thorough analysis they do.
It's also worth noting that a large number of the speakers had flown in from the US. Even these speakers kept their presentations very basic and very top level. Are they behind the rest of the US? No! Where they wrong to keep things simple? No. That's the culture of SES London. Just as a side note; I thought SES really benefited this year from having a fresh bunch of speakers. I think Kevin Ryan, Mike Grehan and team should be thanked for that one.
We have a US office. We have three UK offices. Two German offices. I know these markets well and the techniques are all equal. Do you think the Germans don't read Search Engine Watch or Search Engine Land? They do. Of course they do.
In fact, European Search Marketers tend to have more experience in dealing with multi-lingual and multi-currency campaigns.
There is a difference in traditional media in Germany and the Netherlands when it comes to Search though. It's far easier to get interest from Trade Press journalists in the UK and US than it is in mainland Europe - but that's changing.
Search Engine Strategies made a lot of progress this year. I was pleased I went. I was pleased we didn't send any sales people. Given the progress made I'm sure the SES London team will begin to address the issue of the "top level culture" if it is even an issue for them at all.