The adventure of going to SES London for the first time

I expect that about half of the attendees at the Search Engine Strategies 2008 Conference & Expo in London will be going to the event for the first time.

“And what analysis led you to that deduction, Holmes?”

It was elementary, my dear Watson, elementary.


The event being held at the Business Design Centre in Islington Feb. 19-21, 2008, will be the fourth SES London that I’ve attended. At the previous three conferences, I’ve asked attendees to raise their hands if it was their first Search Engine Strategies. About half the people in the room raised their hands in 2005, 2006 and 2007. You don’t need to be a super-sleuth to deduce that this will be case again in 2008.

“Well, what about the other half of the attendees?”

Obviously, they have returned from previous shows. This explains why attendance at SES London has grown so dramatically since 2005.

“So, are newbies at a disadvantage at the show?”

Not really. The search landscape changes so radically from year to year that even the experts come back to discover what the don’t know yet, as well as to uncover what they thought they knew that is now antiquated. So, newbies aren’t at a serious disadvantage – but they don’t know it.

“Surely you can spot the newbies when you catch them poring over the conference handbook trying to decide what session to attend next.”

This year may be different, my good friend. Only 28 of the 46 sessions, panels, and keynotes at this year’s Search Engine Strategies were listed in last year’s conference handbook. With almost 40% of the topics brand new, I suspect that we might catch some of the experts pouring over this year’s conference handbook – if there is a conference handbook. The one at SES Chicago was replaced by a new magazine. So, that dog won’t bark this time around.

“But at least the experts know about the conference at a glance on the Search Engine Strategies website. Won’t they determine in advance which of three or four concurrent sessions they should attend over the three-day conference?”

That’s an astute observation, Watson. One that I’m sure Inspector Lestrade will take credit for, if we don’t intervene. So, let’s propose a hypothetical track for the first time attendee. Of course, newbies can deviate from it. But, the Great Game will be giving a preliminary plan to help a newbie navigate his or her way through a dozen dilemmas that face anyone going to SES London for the first time.


Let’s begin with Day 1: Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2008. I propose that a newbie should attend “Introduction to Search Marketing” at 9:30 a.m. and then “Search Engine Friendly Design” at 11:00 a.m.

The rest of the day is child’s play. Attend “Google University: Basics” at noon; the “Orion Panel: All Star Analytics Team” at 1:30 p.m.; the “Google University: Masterclass” at 2:30 p.m.; Fredrick Marckini’s opening keynote at 3:30 p.m.; the “Orion Panel: Universal, Blended and Vertical Search” at 4:45 p.m.; and the Networking Cocktail Reception in the Expo Hall at 5:45 p.m.

“What about Day 2? The choices are less obvious on Wednesday, Feb. 20.”

On the contrary, the choices are quite obvious. Even to the youngest of the Baker Street Irregulars knows a newbie should attend the keynote roundtable at 9:00 a.m.; “News Search SEO” at 10:30 a.m.; “Search Term Research & Targeting” at 11:45 a.m.; the “Google University: Google Analytics and Website Optimiser” session at 12:45 p.m.; and “Compare & Contrast: Ad Program Strategies” at 2:00 p.m.

Then, our first time attendee should visit the 20 exhibitors on the trade show floor at 3:00 p.m. After that, our newbie should attend “Balancing Organic & Paid Listings” at 4:p.m.; and “Linking Strategies” at 5:15 p.m.

“And what do you propose for Thursday?”

I must admit, Watson, the choices on Feb. 21 baffle me. The agenda looks like the handiwork of Professor Moriarty. But, let’s hope that by Day 3 our fictional newbie will have gained enough confidence to start making difficult choices without our advice.

“But Holmes, we can’t abandon our poor newbie without of clue about what to do next! Where’s you sense of honor?”

I was just pulling your leg, Watson. So, on Day 3, let’s have our newbie begin by attending “Meet the Crawlers” at 9:30 a.m. Then, let’s suggest that he or she sit in on the “Site Clinic” at 11:00 a.m. Following lunch, I’d recommend attending “Beyond Linkbait: Getting Authoritative Online Mentions.” Then, it’s off to “My SEM Toolbox” at 2:15 p.m. Finally, let’s tell our newbie to attend “Brand & Reputation Management” at 3:30 p.m.

“What about the search training classes on Friday, Feb. 22?”

Oh, those could be useful, too. I’d counsel our fictional first time attendee to sign up for the “Optimizing for Universal Search” workshop at 8:30 a.m.; and the “Making Pay Per Click Pay – Best Practices in Pay Per Click Advertising” workshop at 1:30 p.m. There are additional registration costs, if there are any seats left, of course.

“Shouldn’t you disclose that SES London is one of your clients?”

Of course I will, Watson. But, I would have thought that anyone who has read “It’s ‘Horses for Courses’ at SES London” would have known that.

And, anyone who has ever read Search Engine Watch or The Strand Magazine already knows that I have shown myself to be a master of disguise from my earliest cases, adopting personas from all walks of life.

Finally, deductive reasoning, Google and Wikipedia should have led to this obvious conclusion. How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

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