I am happy to report that I was fortunate enough to attend the 4-day Search Engine Strategies (SES) conference this past week - a conference dedicated to the search marketing industry. The conference was held in San Jose, and I had an absolute blast taking in the sights, and catching up with a few of my colleagues. All in all, it was a great conference.
The following are a few of my conference notes and key take-a-ways:
Day 1 Notes
The conference kicked off nice and early for me this morning as I needed to register, grab all the freebies that go along with antending, and get myself prepared for the upcoming sessions.
Searcher Behavior Research Update
My first session was the "Searcher Behavior Research Update", with speakers Bill Barnes, Rob Murray, David Williams, and Anne Frisbie. For the most part, this was a good session as the speakers highlighted their latest studies and findings regarding how searchers interact with search engines.
Robert Murray, President of iProspect, shared a couple of interesting statistics that I thought were worth mentioning. According to his research:
"62% of all Search Engine users never look past the 1st page of the SE results."
"90% of all Search Engine users never look past the 3rd page of the SE results."
This just goes to show how important top search engine placement is. Search users are no longer digging though the thousands upon thousands of search engine results to find a website (frankly... I'm not sure that they ever did). It seems that if the majority of searchers don't find what they're looking for by the 3rd page, they'll either enter a new query or try another search engine all together. Therefore, it becomes extremely important that website owners find their way to the top of the search engines, either organically or through paid-placement methods, for their desired keyword phrases.
Robert also mentioned that:
"41% of all Search Engine users will change their query or search engine if they can't find what their looking for after the 1st page of the SE Results."
"88% of all Search Engine users will change their query or search engine if they can't find what their looking for after the 3rd page of the SE results."
Which again, these statistics certainly say a lot about today's search users and their searching behaviors.
Leveraging Social Media
My second session was "Leveraging Social Media" and it focused primarily on how one can use media services like MySpace, YouTube, Friendster, and Flickr to deliver marketing messages without disrupting the diverse audience that exists within each area. Overall this was a pretty decent session and one that provided me with lots to look into and experiment with.
Google Sitemaps / Google Webmaster Central
At lunch I sat in on a Google Sitemaps / Google Webmaster Central session. That's right if you didn't already catch it elsewhere... Google announced that they are dropping the name "Sitemaps" and dubbed the service "Webmaster Central". Personally, I hate the name, but 'what are ya going do'. The lunch / session featured the "Webmaster Central" team as they walked through some of the program's new changes and updates.
My last session of the day was a jam-packed, standing-room-only "SEM Via Communities, Wikipedia & Tagging" session. This session featured the all-star line-up of Rand Fishkin, Neil Patel, Andy Hagans, Todd Malicoat, and Chris Pirillo. Together they discussed the many services and strategies that can be used to tap into links and search-driven traffic, such as Wikipedia, Digg, Flickr, and Technorati. "Kudos" goes out to these guys for putting on a very entertaining, and yet informative, session.
Day 2 Notes
Auditing Paid Listings & Click Fraud Issues
My day kicked off with the "Auditing Paid Listings & Click Fraud Issues" session, which happens to be one that I typically try and attend each time. The session covers how to spot abnormalities and follow-up with search engines if you should suspect a competitor or someone else is creating invalid clicks on your accounts. Personally speaking, this session is a great way to keep up with the latest on click-fraud class-action lawsuits, as well as what the engines are doing to combat malicious click activity.
Lori Weiman, Director of KeywordMax, shared a very interesting statistic today. According to her and the research that she and her team have done:
"8% - 28% of PPC Clicks are Invalid"
Now to be fair to Lori and the statistic she provided (and because I spoke with her personally about it after the session) the 28% mentioned is 1 or 2 extreme cases that she's come acrossed and it certainly does not represent the large majority of her clients. Another thing to keep in mind is that an "invalid" click doesn't necessarily mean click-fraud.
Now I have not yet read this report, but I do encourage you all to take a look as Google's findings. You can check it out here.
New Yahoo! Search Marketing Platform Demo
I happened to catch a special lunch session with the Yahoo! Search Marketing team where they showed off a live demo of their new, soon to launch, PPC Ad Platform. The new platform seems to be tons better than their current platform, and from what I've seen today it appears that Yahoo! is definitely moving in all the right directions. Here are a couple of major updates highlighted in today's presentation:
- A New User Dash-Board.
- A Time-Zone Setting.
- An Extremely Better Geo-Targeting Feature.
- A/B Testing Options.
- Budgeting on Both an Account Level and Campaign Level.
- Alerts and Customizable Alerts.
- A New Ranking Algorithm Based on an Ad's Performance.
- Plus tons more TBA.
This new platform is available now to a select few, but will hopefully be up and running completely by 4th Quarter of this year or by 1st Quarter of next year. The YSM mentioned that the delay is due to the fact that they'd like some time to beef up their customer service staff and ensure that they're indeed ready to assist advertisers when the time comes. Not a bad idea if you ask me.
The exhibit hall opened up today as I found myself spending a great deal of time in the hall. There are tons of booths to cover and tons of people to look-up, and only 2 days to do it in... which validates my time on the exhibit hall floor. Here are a couple of pics that I was able to take:
The Google Dance kicked-off in similar fashion to other years... boarding a bus at the convention center which takes attendees to and from Google. Upon arriving at Googleplex, we were greeted by members of the Google staff and were shortly after introduced to a bunch of great freebies, including food, beverages, and entertainment. As always this was a super great time!
Day 3 Notes
Interview with Eric Schmidt
I was very fortunate to catch the morning interview Danny Sullivan did with Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google. I particularly enjoyed the interview, and enjoyed seeing Eric Schmidt in person. However, I will say that the questions Danny asked seemed to be more pre-scripted than what I've been used to, which unfortunately didn't provide for a very exciting conversation.
Day 4 Notes
Yahoo! Store Developer Meeting
On the last day I joined team All Web Promotion and several other very prominent developers in a visit to Yahoo's Corporate Headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA. We did this last year and it has sort of become tradition. On campus, I was able to sit and chat with the Yahoo! Store team, and comment on current and future products. Personally, I loved this visit and found the experience to be educational and enjoyable.
If interested, I've published more 2006 SES San Jose Conference Photos on Flickr.