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SES London – Day 1

Tanya Goodin
Tanya Goodin
CEO
14 February 2007

Just in from catching up on the latest in the world of Search, paid and unpaid, at this year’s London Search Engine Strategies
conference and I thought I’d share some of the nuggets I picked up over
the day. It’s the first time I’ve been to SES and it’s been a rare
treat to get to hear some of the global and (up until now) virtual
gurus in person.

The day kicked off with a session on SEM Campaign and Project
management. Each of the four presentations analysed the various
components of SEM campaigns but all highlighted one unavoidable fact -
natural search is key to a successful campaign, and it is vital that
clients understand how search works particularly as it is now possible
to dominate a large proportion of the SE results page real estate by
gaining top rankings in natural search, paid ads and press releases or
local search.

The second session was one of the highlights of the day for me were the session given by straight-talking SEO and design expert Shari Thurow
who gave a comprehensive round up of the main factors of SE friendly
design. Though there was nothing too revolutionary, it’s always good to
have a refresher on the main principles of good design and to know that
it’s not rocket science. My favourite user testing tip was the 8 second
test where you get someone to look at your webpage for…you guessed
it… 8 seconds, and then they write down what they think the page is
about. It’s simple and free and while it can’t replace comprehensive
usability testing, it’s a great way to work out if your landing pages
are communicating to the user.

Yahoo!’s lunchtime session on their new ranking model,
which went live in the States last Monday, was devoted to highlighting
the new user-friendly interface, and faster ad activation. It will
undoubtably will be better that the current one for which the Yahoo!
representative (I think it was Stephen Taylor (apols if I got that
wrong) was being awfully apologetic. It remains to be seen whether the
much touted "Quality Index" will mean a big improvement in relevancy of
the results for the searchers, and more qualified traffic for
advertisers.

But I diverge from natural search, and according to the next session on Searcher Behaviour from Myles Runham of Ask.com,
searchers are getting lazier, and more easier frustrated, looking on
average at 1.4 pages for each search, and 39% "hating to change search
terms" to find what they are looking for, according to an online survey
run by Ask.com. While I’d argue that those stats need to be looked at
in context, we can safely assume that we do need to make searching
easier for searchers and optimising for niche terms can be an effective
way of doing this. There were some other interesting stats about
internet usage from Comshare and Double Click and you can catch up with
that in Pulse at the end of this week.

Allan Dick, General Manager of Vintage Bathtubs,
a large bathroom fittings online retailer in the States ran a
fascinating session on competitor benchmarking that showed just how
much information can be gained about competitors from their online
presence. Alan swears by Alexa.com, checking for your competitors in shopping engines like Shopzilla, and Google alerts to name a few.

Last, and most certainly not least, the most entertaining session of
the day was the panel of SEO-meisters of the organic listings; Greg
Boser, Mikkel deMib, David Naylor, Barry Lloyd, and Rand Fishkin (who
just got engaged). These guys know their stuff and differed enough in
opinion to make for spicy debate and they gave tips to some site owners
who’d clearly had some very bad advice in the past. They also debunked
the idea that Google has put paid to Gbombing, with Mikkel reporting
that the personal site of the Danish PM comes first for the Danish word
for Caveman. My Danish is not strong enough to verify this but if you
wish go have fun with Babelfish.

Tomorrow morning there’s a keynote speech from none other than Mr
Matt Cutts. I’ve been trying to at least clap eyes on the man today but
there are A LOT of Matt Cutts look-a-likes out there. More tomorrow.

SES London - Day 1

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