I've been attending SES San Jose every year since 2003. And each year a healthy proportion of attendees are attending their first search engine marketing conference ever.
This is healthy because it expands the number of marketers who "get it."
I can't tell you the number of times when prospective clients mistakenly assume that search engine marketing (SEM) isn't rocket science. Or they mistakenly believe that search engine optimization (SEO) is something their information technology (IT) department took care of years ago. Or they mistakenly think that a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaign takes 15 minutes to set up. Or they mistakenly hope that their public relations (PR) people have a good handle on social media marketing.
So, I'm delighted to see the large number of first time attendees at Search Engine Strategies conferences -- because after they've sat in on a dozen sessions over three days they come away knowing how much more there is to learn.
Hey, if it were easy, we'd all rank #1.
So, with SES San Jose 2009 coming up August 10-14, I thought I'd highlight some of the conference sessions that I'd recommend to first time attendees. I've been doing this for several years -- and even spoke along with Matt Bailey of SiteLogic in a few "First Timer's Guide to SES and SEM" sessions at some events.
But, most marketers like to plan ahead. So, look over the SES conference agenda and check out some of the sessions that address your needs and your organization's issues.
If you want some suggestions, here are sessions specially focused on search fundamentals for first time attendees:
• Introduction to Search Engine Marketing provides a clear and concise overview of the concepts involved in search engine marketing.
• Turn Brain Science into Bucks: Incorporating Persuasive Messaging into Your Content Strategy showcases current online content campaigns and explains the best content strategies to help persuade buyers, build trust, and get great search engine listings using Twitter, white papers, optimized web pages and more.
• SEO Tools of the Trade: What's in YOUR Toolbox? describes the tools that will help accomplish tasks, including indexing, competitive analysis, site ranking, diagnosing and remedying problems and much more.
• Search Advertising 101 describes the basic principles and applications of paid placement.
• Keywords & Content: Search Marketing Foundations presents an overview of the important keywords customers are searching for and how to target the right terms in paid and organic search marketing.
• Discover the Power of Linking: Link Building Basics focuses on the role of link analysis in search engine site rankings and how to increase site traffic by building quality links.
• The Findability Formula: The Easy, Non-Technical Approach to SEM features search engine guru Heather Lutze taking a fresh look at how search engines find content and what steps to take to ensure a successful online marketing campaign.
• Extreme Makeover is a series of four sessions held throughout day three of the conference. Volunteers are taken from the audience, their websites are examined and feedback is provided. Sessions include:
Extreme Makeover: Live Site Clinic provides general feedback about improving websites and gaining more traffic from search engines.
Extreme Makeover: Live Twitter & Blogging Clinic provides general feedback about how to improve your website's use of Twitter and blogging.
Extreme Makeover: Live Landing Page Clinic provides feedback on how to improve landing pages.
Extreme Makeover Live! Why Am I Not Making Enough Sales? covers the most common reasons many sites have low conversion rates and gives tips on how to turn more site visitors into paying customers.
I think you can see from the suggestions above that there is more to SEM, SEO, PPC and social media than a handful of tricks that you can pick up by reading a blog post. Oh, and if the folks over in finance are still cutting travel budgets these days, ask them this rhetorical question: "If I don't learn how to improve our search engine marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, or social media marketing, then how will the company be able to pay your salaries next year?"
Okay, so maybe you don't want to actually say that to their faces. And you don't want to start calling finance the "department of sales prevention." They are just doing their job.
But you can show them the SES conference agenda and let them know that you've picked out sessions to attend that will provide your company with a return on its investment (ROI) in marketing. Finance folks love it when you talk about ROI. Your talking their language.
Or, ask them to watch the video below. Yes, yes, it makes the case for going to Search Engine Strategies. But it also demonstrates visually that SES San Jose, which is the largest search engine marketing expo on the West Coast, will be packed with more than 70 sessions, multiple keynotes, and Orion panels, over 150 exhibitors, networking events, and more.