Review of SES NYC by Khalid Saleh

Mar 30th

Conferences are especially interesting especially in a tough economy. Truth be told, I had low expectations for SES NY when all I was reading was companies scaling back and downsizing.

But the first tweets about SES painted a brighter picture. And with close to 5,000 marketers registered for the conference it was shaping up to be an excellent conference. As I walked through the exhibit hall vendors had a very good show and were very pleased with the large numbers of crowds that showed up. Of all the different SES shows I have attended over the last few years, this particular SES NY had to top the list in both the quality of the lectures, the speaker list and even the small details such as quality of the food J.

Here is a quick wrap up of some of the highlights

I thought that Guy Kawasaki’s choice of topic on using “Twitter As A Tool For Social Media” was an interesting one. And although I am a fan of Guy, my assumption was that most everyone in attendance must have used twitter for some time. I was really wondering if I am going to learn many new things from session. The room was over flowing with people and the few who showed up late had to spend the hour or so standing.

Guy made 9 main points:

  1. Forget the A list (sort of funny coming from A lister ;) )
  2. Defocus
  3. Increase your followers
  4. Monitor the conversation
  5. Copy best practices
  6. Use search
  7. Use the right tools
  8. Squeeze the triggers
  9. Make it easy to share

Guy’s favorite tools to use in conjunction with Twitter

My favorite portion in the presentation was the section on search and utilizing advance search parameters to look for terms people are using. That can be a valuable tool to increase business. Let say you are a web designer who is looking for work. You can setup a search for a term such as web design referrals. That is an excellent time to jump in and introduce yourself.

Twitter hawk is a tool that can be used to send automatic “paid” messages when people search for a term. I am not familiar with the tool but I see the potential to use it for business development. I am sure there are many who will debate the tactics Guy suggested in the session. If you are a believer in pure social media, I think there are many things that will turn your stomach.

The session on Meaningful SEO Metrics focused on measurements that help generate better ROI. Traditional metrics focus on number of visitors, pages per visit, time on site, etc. Ray "Catfish" Comstock discussed how bounce rates for keywords is critical in the process of conversion optimization. Ray suggested examining:

  • High Bounce Rate keyword phrases: which indicate keyword phrases that are generating traffic but users are not finding what they want.
  • High Conversion Rate keyword phrases: which indicate keywords that are working and therefore which phrases you should focus more resources on.

I did not really appreciate the importance of mobile SEO until I chatted with an SEO for a large auto site. He mentioned that their site traffic usually peaks on Mondays and Tuesdays. That is the time where people are searching for cars. The traffic usually dies off on weekends when people are out shopping. If you think about it, people actually shopping in real life is perfect time for Mobile SEO. That discussion was enough to convince me to attend Mobile seo best practices. Cindy Krum who specializes in mobile marketing consulting did a great job covering Mobile Marketing Strategies. While visitors of traditional marketing can arrive at a site at different stages of the buying process, mobile search usually indicate immediate intent. Cindy pointed out that real mobile web browsing, flat-rate data pricing, and faster download speed are all factors help that make mobile web more relevant. Cindy’s advice for basic mobile seo includes:

  • Follow all Traditional & Local SEO Best Practices
  • Submit your Site to Mobile Search Engines & Directories
  • Avoid using flash, scripts, popup windows.
  • Follow XHTML standards
  • Use external CSS

The panel discussion on the most common search marketing mistakes CMOs make promised to deliver an interesting topic. My favorite of the mistakes was failing to assign $ value to every conversion on a website. There are too many times when we focus on a generating sales or leads via a website and forget about the other conversions that can take place. These other conversions might not have the same dollar value as a sale but they are the still conversions. A visitor might subscribe to a newsletter, download a white paper or subscribe to a blog. Assign a dollar value for each of these activities.

The extreme makeover session with a focus on conversion made for an entertaining afternoon. Jeffry Eisenberg of Future Now, Tim Ash of SiteTuners and Ethan Griffin of Groove Commerce took on a discussion of one of the sites Groove Commerce worked on. You can tell right away the different approach to optimization each of these guys takes. Jeffry is evaluating different customers, looking at what might work for them. Tim is focused on the testing aspect. Ethan is considering optimization as well as implementation details. Jeffry and Tim seemed to disagree even when they were making the same point. As a listed to the panelist go back and forth on what to test and what to remove, some sitting next to me asked, so who should we listen to here? I smiled and said, listen to your visitors!

Night time at conferences is as valuable as day time and SES New York was no exception. So, on the first night of SES NY I stayed up until 4 AM with Frank Watson (AussieWebmaster AKA crocodile man in some Hollywood circles) and Patrick Sexton (who you know from SEOish or his latest venture GetListed.org), every muscle in my body was aching. I am just not sure how Frank was planning to stay up for few more hours.

B2B complex sales involve longer cycles, many stages and different people in each stage. The session on B2B marketing focused on search marketing tactics that can help deal with some of these complexities. Segmenting data becomes more critical in complex sales. This can be done through allowing customers to identify what segment they belong to (enterprise, small business, etc). Another important factor when it comes to complex sales is going beyond the cost per lead to cost per action which is a good indicator of the quality of leads.

Another panel discussion I attended at SES was Slash Your Search Budget. As you can imagine the title hit home with what many companies have to deal with nowadays. Unfortunately, this session was perhaps the most disappointing discussion in the conference. The speakers did not offer real ways to slash marketing budgets. The talk of mobile SEO as an alternative to traditional SEO threw me off completely. How would that relate to slashing a marketing budget? Talk of utilizing social media as a way to generate hits did not resonate with me either. Social media takes a lot of nurturing and a lot of budget. So, at that point, I could not help but raise my hand and ask how is using social media help in cutting SEM budgets? There was a bit of silence there.

The only exception was Aaron Kahlow of the online marketing summit. He offered candid suggestions: It is better to take charge of the budget discussion. Approach your manager/boss and tell him you want to slash the budget. Evaluate which parts SEM activities are not producing results. By doing so, you will be guaranteed a seat at the table.

The 2 nd night at SES included attending live web master radio show hosted by David Szetela, learning more about the SEO community from Jim Hedger and enjoying a lengthy discussion on online marketing with @webanalytic J .

On the third day of SES, I attended News search and SEO. Most notable on that panel was John Shehata of who specializes in news search seo . John provided many valuable tips that ranged from the basic to more advance level. Some of the tips included:

  • Use trends/buzz keyword tools when writing news for online audience (Google hot trends, Yahoo Buzz, Google Zeitgeist, seomoz popular)
  • Print headlines sell the story, optimized web headlines tell the story

Well, before I sign off, I have to congratulate Matt McGowan and his team for an excellent show and raised the bar for upcoming search events. I think Matt is on his way to Australia at this point. If you enjoyed this post and would like to connect, then follow me on twitter.

Published: March 30, 2009

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Comments

March 31, 2009 - 5:02pm

Thank you for the review, I was unable to attend SES NY so this was very useful information.

I work at Bayshore Solutions and Mobile SEO is something that we have not really ventured into yet but we know we need to! Same thing with Twitter- we are still trying to understand all the great apps our there so we can explain to our client how they can use them to generate some ROI.

Once again thank you for the great review and tips!

February 10, 2010 - 4:06am

There is opportunity in looking at:

High Bounce Rate keyword phrases: which indicate keyword phrases that are generating traffic but users are not finding what they want. --> because you can check which keywords can be transformed into converting ones when you apply the suitable page content to match the user's query.

I've made a post here about SEO and web design to improve bounce rates.

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