Monday, February 23, 2009

Thoughts inspired by Search Engine Strategies

SES London 2009Image by momentimedia via Flickr


We didn’t bring an expo stand to Search Engine Strategies London this year, didn’t do it last year and the same goes for SMX. Why not? No point. Who would we be selling ourselves to?

I think we made the right decision but I do think there were more client side people were there this year than last.

One of the reasons there were more client side people at SES London was, I’m sure, driven by the credit crunch and a curiosity about taking SEO in-house. The audience was far more interactive. The SEO experts at the conference asked good questions. The new client side people asked questions like; “How do I work out what links my site has got?”

This suggests to me that whereas we’ve got some very good in-house SEO teams in the UK that we also have very many companies who simply don’t have the resource or the knowledge yet. I’m confident that the need for agencies remains high.

Two of the common bits of gossip I picked up at the event;

  1. Too many American speakers and not enough European speakers
  2. SES had cracked down on the number of free passes

The first point is a tricky one. Some American speakers certainly add weight and glamour to the event. On the other hand; there are more than enough accomplished speakers in the UK (that’s not even Europe) to fully populate the speaker roster.

I don’t think we had more American speakers than usual. I do think the sensitivity around American speakers was higher. Why? That’s probably left for another post.

I think the second point is good. SES should hand out fewer free passes. They need to make money. There’s no point in having a panel of speakers talking to a room full of fellow speakers.

I think there must be long term questions around how search conferences make money.

I barely notice Search Engine Land now that they’ve moved to partial RSS feeds!

I do appreciate that they’ve got to make money, though. Search Engine Land isn’t a hobby.

I’ve popped over to Search Engine Watch after a few Google Alerts grabbed my attention this month but hadn’t been there for a while. In fact, I think I stopped checking after the news updates their (back before the current team) as the news updates had become nothing more than product placement. Product placement, of course, is another way to make money.

This year we didn’t pitch to speak at SES. We weren’t invited either. I think we should make the point of trying to speak in the future. Why? It’s a prestige thing. It’s a prestige thing.

Okay; so SES and SMX offer prestige. How can the organisers make money from that?

First they have to keep the event prestigious – this means not dropping the price and giving away free tickets. Matt McGowan did well this year through tactical use of discount offers.

Live blogging is interesting too. There was less of it this year. Partly this was because more of us (like me) restricted ourselves to Twitter but also because there was less blogs linking to the live blogging coverage.

My gut feeling that Twitter coverage may increase the desire to be at an event in away that live blogging doesn’t.

I think one way SES and SMX can maximise their value to search professionals who are attending (who may not learn very much) might be to let them take part in guest posts, featured tweets or even video interviews.

ANYWAY! Long rambling post – this is just a collection of random thoughts moved from my mind to the blog. Should free up some more mental space for something more useful!

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