This was my first trip to SES San Jose and I must say that overall I was impressed with the show out there last week. I felt more involved as an attendee than I have at previous shows and I thought the turnout was great. San Jose is, after all, located in the heart of Silicon Valley so there should not have been a shortage of technology companies displaying their search engine-related wares and services. The Google party wasn’t bad, either. ūüėČ

My schedule allowed for two full days at the conference so I had to use the time wisely. My plan was to peruse the exhibit hall on Tuesday and attend sessions the entire day on Wednesday with several client meetings sprinkled throughout. It worked out well although there never seems to be enough time to accomplish everything. I noticed her custom stand from the exhibition was an amazing way to create a unique space for her brand. I¬†talked about my products with an https://www.exposolutions.com.au/¬†Exhibition supplier that gave me even better advice on how to present my brand accurately and at the same time attracting customers. Here’s a quick rundown of my time in San Jose.

Tuesday

Because I couldn’t book a room anywhere near the McEnery Convention Center I had to take a cab downtown. (A word to the wise: book these trips early….it’ll save you some grief if you plan ahead and get convenient accommodations.) I was able to obtain my registration badge quickly and then it was off to peruse the exhibition hall. GYM (Google/Yahoo/MSN) occupied much of the prime real estate as would be expected. They all had great booths set-up where they were touting the greatness of their respective PPC programs and handing out their shwag. MSN, being the newest kid on the block in this arena, seemed the most enthused about discussing their product. I hope they do well…I’d love to see Bill give Larry and Sergey a run for their money in search advertising!

Several companies represented themselves very well with fresh booths, cool give-a-ways, and had educated staff on hand to field even the most uncommon questions. Others did not, but I won’t mention any names. It was nice seeing what everyone had to offer and I made a special point to stop be each booth on display. Whether it was for twenty seconds or twenty minutes, I wanted to see it all. I was very impressed with a company I knew nothing about: www.weRlive.com. They boast live video chats with experts on a variety of topics. I thought that was a very unique concept and they seem to have it put together nicely. They could still use some “depth” in regards to the subjects their experts cover, but I was still impressed with their concept. (I would have been more impressed had I won the Pontiac Solstice they were giving away, but no…I didn’t walk away a winner on that one.)

SES has what they call a “networking lunch” each day in the exhibit hall. They had, I don’t know, a hundred tables or more set up that seat 8 people each. Half of those tables had signs on them that would detail a specific topic of interest and folks could just have a seat and chat with like-minded individuals while eating their complimentary box lunch. I got there late and the two “Linking” tables I saw were completely full. I wasn’t really in the mood to learn more about “In-house SEM” or “CPA” so I decided to take my grub out to the WiFi area and return some emails. I like the concept, though, and for anyone who is considering attending an SES show in the future by themselves….this would be a great way to meet people.

Tuesday’s events led right into the Google Dance; the big bash that Google hosts each year at their corporate headquarters. All SES attendees, Google employees, and whoever else was invited and it was definitely an experience that I’m glad I didn’t miss. There were literally thousands of people crawling the Google campus and I, for one, was blown away by the magnitude of this event. First of all, they sent chartered buses to ferry everyone to and from the Google headquarters. Once we arrived, I was promptly greeted by cheerful Google employees who enthusiastically issued me a Google t-shirt and coralled me in the direction of the closest bar…of which there were several. There was a lot of great food, interactive exhibits, cool gadgets, fun activities, and good music. (Yes, I even did the “Dancing Heads” deal that superimposes your face on a dancing, cartoon body. Funny stuff.) Everyone had a great time from what I could tell so I’d like to personally say, “thanks, Google.” One of their employees even offered to drive me back to my hotel so I wouldn’t have to wait in the long line to be bussed back to the convention center. Thanks, D!

Wednesday

After a client meeting for breakfast, my first session of the day was an interview between Danny Sullivan and Eric Schmidt, the current CEO of Google. Mr. Schmidt offered a fairly guarded-yet-polite perspective on Google’s current state-of-affairs and product offerings. Mr Sullivan even asked him at one point why they had so many products? There has been some banter that people are beginning to fear Google because of their size. Mr. Schmidt calmly stated that their overall mission is clear and simple: to solve people’s problems online. I think “to make more money” would have been far more honest yet less-popular answer, but whatever. It is business after all, right? At any rate, it was an interesting conversation.

My next session was called “Linking Strategies” and the speakers were Debra Mastaler from Alliance-Link.com, Greg Boser from WebGuerilla, & Eric Ward from ericward.com. Although there was nothing ground-breaking about any of the information discussed, I must say that I was impressed with Eric during his presentation. He appears to be very professional with a deep understanding of the SEO industry.

The next session was called “Buying Links” and the speakers were the same but also included Patrick Gavin & Thomas Bindle. Again, nothing new here but the consensus is there is a HUGE demand for links…which we’re in touch with here at LinkWorth. Relevancy is rule #1. Attention LinkWorth Partners & Advertisers: Buy/Sell links from relevant sites only! This is common knowledge in the industry but a friendly reminder never hurt anyone. From a Partner’s perspective, if you only accept relevant text ads to publish on your site you’ll benefit yourself in two ways: 1) you’ll attract more Advertisers because you won’t have unrelated links next to each other which could dilute the strength of that inbound link. 2) you will have more credibility in the eyes of the search engines because you won’t have irrelevant outbound links. The stronger your site is, the more ad requests you will receive. From an Advertiser’s perspective, inbound links from relevant sites have more “juice” and your chances for click-throughs are higher because you’re addressing your target demographic.

I attended most of the “Link Baiting” session, as well. This session was focused on methods & techniques to attract links naturally. All due respect, I lost interest in this session and left early so I don’t want to mention the names of the speakers. Sorry guys! It was at the end of a long day and I had a plane to catch, anyway.

So that was my experience in condensed form. We’ll be attending SES shows across the country at least semi-regularly but I’d certainly recommend San Jose to those who have never been before. Have a great day….