Observations from SES San Jose 2009

Last week Search Engine Strategies celebrated its 11th consecutive year as a west coast conference.  I recall being at the first SES in San Francisco and have only missed one of the west coat shows since.   I have to say that this one was one of the better I have attended.  I got a good vibe from the attendees as well as the sophistication of the questions.

For the first time in a long time I got to attend sessions that I was not speaking on or moderating.  It was great to sit in on sessions and not running to a dozen client meetings in the area because I was there or taking one of the hundreds of conference calls

I have to give Marilyn, Stuart and Jackie a lot of credit for developing a brilliant program.  This time around there were 70 sessions with over 150 speakers.  There will always be an issue with hacks on panels and it is immediately obvious, to the trained search marketers, which people that really don’t know what they are talking about and people who just don’t talk about anything of real substance.  Not only do people just walk out they hammer them real-time on twitter.

It was disappointing that there was not a Google Dance this year – I was at the very first where it was a boom box and people dancing on the volleyball court.  But Google now believes that every breathing human knows who they are and there is no need to support and reach out to the audience who supports them.  We can always count on Darren and Brandy to have the killer Search Bash and this year again topped all previous events.  I loved the Alice in Wonderland theme and the DJ played just the right amount of 80’s music to get the search old timers out on the dance floor.

Beyond the parties and the sessions, I still believe the best part about search conferences is the chance to network with my friends and peers.  Without a doubt the people in the search industry are the most friendly and helpful around.

So what did I observe at SES?

Services/Software that I thought were cool

Wordstream – they offer an interesting and robust keyword management solution that takes a lot of the drudgery out of managing your keywords.   It starts w2ith any list and pulls it into the system, gets keyword popularity data via the Google API and starts a segmentation process that flows right into ad group development for Google, Yahoo! and Bing.

Yield Software –  this is a dream solution for small and medium companies that do not want to outsource their paid search and SEO programs.  A fully integrated SEO/SEM solution that is surprisingly easy for anyone to deploy and manage.

AdGooroo – not a new solution but they announced a more robust competitive analysis as well more keyword-centric data.  Gary and team continue to impress with new features that align with how the more successful campaigns are managed.

Favorite Sessions

I moderated three sessions as part of the CMO Track at the event – so will say they are some of my favorites and a link to some blog coverage:

Just wanted to give a quick wrap-up. Once I sort through my notes I will post more.