Schedule optimization for SES New York

The biggest Search Engine Strategies conference of the year will be held the week of March 17 in New York City. Whether this will be your first SES New York, or the fifth one in a row that you’ve attended since 2004, you might appreciate some free advice on schedule optimization.


One look at the conference at a glance will tell you why. There are more than 70 workshops, keynotes, panels and sessions over the four-day Search Engine Strategies conference. And, on the fifth day, there are an additional six SEM training classes following SES New York.

Since there are five concurrent tracks during the four-day Search Engine Strategies conference and three concurrent workshops during the fifth day of SEM training, no one can attend everything. This is not daunting to the first-time attendee. It is also a challenge to someone like me, who attended SES New York in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. I’m looking at last year’s conference handbook and this year’s conference at a glance and more than 70% of the sessions are new!

Now, Danny Sullivan programmed last year’s show and Kevin Ryan organized this year’s agenda. But, that’s only one of the factors driving the dramatic changes in the content at the event.

On the last day of last year’s Search Engine Strategies conference in New York City, Google announced its $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick, which is still pending. A couple of weeks later, Yahoo! acquired the remaining 80% of Right Media for $680 million. Then, last May, Microsoft acquired aQuantive for $6 billion. Last July, Microsoft acquired AdECN for an undisclosed amount of money and in September, Yahoo! acquired BlueLithium for $300 million in cash. Then, on Feb. 1 of this year, Microsoft proposed to acquire Yahoo! for $44.6 billion.

That’s a lot of M&A news for the industry to digest – and our search engine marketing definition needs to be rewritten this year.

And our search engine optimization definition needs to be totally rewritten, too.

About a month after last year’s SES New York, Google announced its critical first steps toward a universal search model that offers users a more integrated and comprehensive way to search for and view information online. It was the biggest thing to hit the search engine marketing industry since Google’s Florida Update in November 2003.

In June 2007, Ask3D was launched. In September 2007, Microsoft launched its biggest update to Live Search since its debut in January 2005. And in October 2007, “an all new Yahoo! Search experience” was launched.

Meanwhile, comScore reports that YouTube, Google Image Search, Google Maps and Google News are approaching 1.6 billion searches a month, which is more than Live Search. In other words, Google (6.2 billion searches a month) is the #1 search engine, Yahoo! (2.4 billion) is #2, YouTube and all other Google “expanded” search sites (1.6 billion) would be #3, and Microsoft’s Live Search (1 billion) is #4.

So, is it any wonder that even SES alumni are heading back to New York?

So, to help industry veterans as well as search newbies, I’ve put together the optimized schedule below for the Search Engine Strategies conference that starts on Saint Patrick’s Day in the Big Apple.

Now, when you get to SES New York, you’ll make adjustments on the fly. As Bob Shirilla of Keepsakes Etc. told me at SES Chicago back in December, “I had a detailed game plan when I came to SES, but I’m calling a lot of audibles.”

Nevertheless, schedule optimization will help you get the return on marketing investment that you’re looking for. Here are the workshops, keynotes, panels and sessions that I’d recommend:

Day 1 – Monday, March 17, 2008

Creating Compelling Ads
Organic Listings Forum

Analytics: Data Into Action
Igniting Viral Campaigns

Web Analytics: Measuring Success
Auditing Paid Listings and Click Fraud Issues

Orion Panel: Getting Vertical Search Right

Day 2 – Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Conference Welcome and Opening Keynote
Nick Carr, author of The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google

Nick Carr, SES New York 2008, The Big Switch

Introduction to Search Engine Marketing
Ads in a Quality Score World

Orion Panel: Universal Search

3:15-4:30pm (Sponsored Sessions)
Hitwise: Know about Your Competitors’ Paid and Organic Traffic
Google: What’s new with Google Analytics and Website Optimizer?

Search Engine Friendly Design
Ad Copy & Landing Page Clinic

Day 3 – Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Morning Keynote
Gordon McLeod: Search Has Changed Everything… And So Can You

Link Building Basics
Ad Testing: Research & Findings

Search Advertising 101
Top Search Trends

Afternoon Keynote
Jason Calacanis, Founder & CEO of, Inc.

The New Face of In-House Search
Social Media Research: Informing Search Strategies

The Business Case for SEO Content Development: Turning Words Into Action!
Ad Exchanges Are Changing Everything

Day 4 – Thursday, March 20, 2008

Morning Keynote
Andrew Tomkins, Chief Scientist at Yahoo! Research

Usability & SEO: 2 Wins For The Price of 1
Podcast & Audio Search Optimization

Beyond Linkbait: Getting Authoritative Online Mentions
Images & Search Engines

Meet the Crawlers
Video Search Optimization

But wait! There’s more!

On Friday, March 21, there are six half-day SEM training classes, which can be taken in addition to the SES New York conference or independently – at an additional cost.

Again, look over the descriptions of each workshop to see which ones are for you. But, here are the SEM training classes that I’d recommend:

Link and Reputation Workshop
Optimizing for Universal Search

Search & Analytics Workshop: Using Analytics to Increase Search Effectiveness
The 7 Step RSS/Content Syndication/SEO Strategy

If you register for the Search Engine Strategies conference by tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 29, you can save $150. Conference attendees get free access to Market Motive training and Bruce Clay tools. And, if you attend SES New York, you could win a Scion xB! A free drawing will take place on Wednesday, March 19, in the Expo Hall.

I should disclose that Search Engine Strategies is now a client, but I’ve been writing about SES since 2002, when the March event was still held in Boston.

The search engine marketing industry has been totally transformed since then. For example, the keynote speaker at my first Search Engine Strategies conference was from Terra Lycos.

Remember them?

That’s why both industry veterans as well as search newbies will be heading to SES New York in a couple of weeks. The newbies will want to learn everything they can. And the veterans need to relearn most of what was being taught just a few years ago.

Greg Jarboe of SEO-PR and Amanda Watlington of Searching for Profit at SES London 2008

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