Falko Luedtke has been a member of our online training program and community forums since the day we opened up nearly a year ago. He has done in house SEO for some fortune 500 clients and recently branched out to start his own consultancy. As a Search Engine Strategies media partner I figured it would be more beneficial to many readers of the blog to see what Falko thought of going to his first SEO related conference, rather than hearing my take on it. Without further ado, here is his review...
My First SEO Conference
My first SES, way to cold and bad coffee but the greatest working week I ever had.
6 days in Chicago, the first time for me being in the windy city, the first time that I went to a big SEO conference, the first time that I freeze my butt off anywhere I go.
I love to go to conversions and conferences, when I was younger I spend almost every second weekend on the road to attended eSport events. So even so it was my first time to go to a SES it was nothing new for me.
Overall I need to say that I enjoyed the week in Chicago a lot and I can’t wait to go to the next conference. Everybody interested in SEO should at least attend to one in his life. It is the second best way to meet other SEO experts and exchange knowledge with them, best way is signing up for the SEO Book Community. I don’t know who came up with the idea to put the December SES to Chicago but I guess it is the same person who decided to put it into the Chicago Hilton Hotel. I talked to so many people on this conference and everybody was saying the same 5 things:
- I’m freezing my B’s off.
- Godverdomme my phone is not working.
- Does anybody have a steady internet connection? I don’t.
- Where is the coffee? No I’m not talking about that weird black water over there.
- The music is so loud I can’t hear what you say. What did you say?
When I arrived on Sunday evening from Vancouver I already had meet one other SEO and as soon we said down in the shuttle bus we realized we are not alone. 7 out 10 people in the shuttle where on their way to the conference. I thought, good start as more people around as more possibilities to talk. After settling down in my room and get myself organized I went to Kitty O'Sheas in the Hilton. I didn’t stay in the Hilton by the way, I said right next door in the Essex Inn, paid a third of the price and had less to complain about my room than anybody else I meet on the conference. Kitty is an Irish bar not a bad one but they really need to learn to turn down the music. I meet more people in the first night then I could have expected. And at 5 am I went happily to bed thinking about what to attend to on Monday.
Monday morning the black water that the Hilton called Coffee didn’t really help, the breakfast was average low and way to overpriced so I could really enjoy me being hang over on this morning :) That didn’t stop me to go to the panels. I could spend a 100 blog posts talking about the panels and all the great things that I learned but I don’t want to make this post to long. I think there are some panels I would like to urge you to try to get your hands on the presentations, if you can.
Orion Panel: The State of Integration – Yes we are SEO’s, yes we are great but yes there are others. Use traditional marketing to funnel your branding efforts into high converting search. Instead of fighting your traditional marketing colleges work with them.
Search & Packaged Goods Moderated by Mark Jackson – One of the best panels I attended on the conference. You could have really learnt something about were large consumer-packaged-goods companies work and think. More and more Shopper Moms are going online to research their products online or looking for coupons. Also how a crisis in a industry can a good way to created brand trust. I just say large number of searches, big marketing budgets but old companies with no sense for new technology. Huge opportunities for every marketer who stops and thinks for a moment about it.
Why Does Search get all the Credit? – Pretty simple, search converts better and is much easier to click then to walk somewhere. But how do you get people to search for your brand terms? There is a life beyond the internet and we all living in it.
Take away from the first day was clearly, look outside the search box, with the prices for traditional marketing down there are huge opportunities to drive more searches. Don’t forget to optimize your site for conversions first :) A very good book to read about this topic is “Landing Page Optimization” from Tim Ash.
Tuesday morning the breakfast was not much better in the Hilton and coffee in the press area was the same as the day before. I spend quite a bit of time at the Expo and talk to a lot of Marketers and Product Managers. Some of the products are just amazing. Everybody who works with content should take a look at the new version of WordVision, very cool.
The panel for Tuesday that I thought was most interesting, since most people don’t get it right, was Duplicate Content & Multiple Site Issues moderated by Eric Enge. Even so I didn’t agree with all the presentation the insides that Sharad Verma from Y! Search provided were gold worth. Hint different language can’t be duplicated content. Use Aarons Duplicated Content Checker to make sure you don’t have any problems with it on your site.
The evening was even better then the day before. A little tip for you, just stick around till the Gurus are drunk and then ask all your questions you will get the best answers.
This time I left the Breakfast out in Hilton, just not worth it. For this day I would like you to look at Social Media Optimization as a panel. Even so Web 2.0 was yesterday and we are not quite at Web 3.0 yet Social Media is a constant in the internet that you can’t forget about anymore if you want to run a successful online business. A lot of old school companies are still hesitant to invest in such a market but they could find solutions for their biggest problems here. Interacting with a community can created not only brand awareness but it can also help you to created new content for your company. If you have a great product and created value for your clients it will help your online efforts even more. Pauline Ores at IBM mention that if they get a bad feedback in the community it takes sometimes too long for them to react on it but the community on its own does it instantly. And often more human then IBM could.
At this point I need to thank Mike Grehan and all the great people for the great dinner this evening. And after talking to Mike about his new book I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I hope after reading the book people stop riding the “Rank matters most” trip.
Since I went to bed at 6.30 am on Thursday morning it took me a bit longer to come back on track. At least I can say I enjoyed the most awesome Jazz club in Chicago and I now know what company I would invest money in if I would have any :) You want to know? Send me a mail.
There are two panels I want to mention for this day, first is “How to speak Geek: Working Collaboratively with your IT department to get stuff done” Chris Boggs is a great guy and he is so right, we are living in the 21th century, nerds rule the world and they will do that more and more, Management language does not help you anymore. The world changed people want to cut the BS and come to the point. So start speaking Geek it will help you at work, with your friends and maybe even you can finally connect to your kids again.
The highlight of the conference was “Black Hat, Whit Hat & the Best kept secrets to Search” With Todd Friesen, Eric Enge, Doug Heil and David Naylor in the panel. Some people expected that somebody would start a bar fight but David Naylor just stole the show. If somebody did a video of the D..k head parody please send me the link over. We didn’t have the changes to see a bar fight but it was almost an hour long discussion about all the nice things what you can do to make yourself disappear in the search results.
Not only was this the funniest panel of the conference, but it also had a ton of information in it like how Google will not allow tons of results in there SERP that are leading all to the same upstream end point. You can mask a lot of things but you can’t mask the upstream end point. If all the search results send their traffic to the same end point Google will eliminate the ranking of your affiliates to created more diversity in their results. With creating multiple end points for your affiliates you are able to create this diversity.
But I need to repeat the warning from Todd and Doug from last night, be aware of the risks and only do things that are relevant. To quote David Naylor on this "If a user clicks on a link that says 'Buy Viagra', they're going to land on a page that's selling Viagra." If the user clicks on ‘Buy Viagra’ and lands on the page of Al Gore the user is properly not very happy. With staying relevant you can’t do much wrong. I really hope somebody did a video of this panel. If not too bad you were not here.
Before I bore you guys to death, I guess I already did here are some recommendations if you ever plan to attend a SEO conference.
- If you come for just one day, save the money for the conference get a Expo only ticked, take the money that you saved and go to the bar.
- Look for the Geek with the most people around him and by him drinks till he can’t stand anymore. You learn more in the bar and with being social then you could ever learn from the panels.
To summarise the conference, it was a great week, thank you so much for the opportunity Aaron. I had so much fun and even so that I would say SES should move this event ether to a different city for December or to a different hotel all the complains are gone as soon you get in the Bar and be social. I can’t wait to attend the next conference even if it is in the cold again, the information and knowledge you gain in one night is worth a lot more than the cost of coming to the conference. I almost wish that the conference would have not ended but my lever hurts, I’m tiered and I had the most fun week working ever. I hope to see you around on the next events maybe the SEO Community conference?
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