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Lee Odden

Vintage Search Engine Strategies San Jose

By Lee Odden     Business of SEO, Online Marketing, Search Engine Strategies

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While moving some of the material from my home office to our Lake Minnetonka office, I recently came across the SES San Jose 2004 Conference Handbook (dust and all) which was the first SES conference I ever attended. Paging through my notes was a trip down memory lane (in internet time). People talk about how things change so quickly with search marketing, but looking at the content from this event 3 years ago was tangible evidence.

For example, the session on “Web Feeds, Blogs and Search” with Danny moderating and speakers: Scott Rafer of Feedster (Now with MyBlogLog/Yahoo), Amanda Watlington of Searching for Profit, Jeremy Zawodney of Yahoo, Chris Tolles from Topix and Mark Fletcher from Bloglines (Now an Ask.com property). In my notes it mentions that there were 4.1 million blogs and that the number would hit 10 million by the end of 2004. Now in 2007 Technorati reports over 92.4 million blogs. Who knew then blogs would take off? Amanda did.

The question was posed, “Why use blogs for search engine optimization?”. The answer given in 2004 then is still true today: “Fresh content, themed content, keyword rich, links and spider friendly HTML.” For more info on that, check out these blog SEO tips.

It wasn’t all roses though. When looking at screenshots of some sessions printed in the handbook, it was a bit concerning to see some of the same slides still being presented 3 years later. However, that’s the exception and with a new crew in place for the event programming piece, things should get mixed up a bit and brought current.

At the time of SES San Jose 2004, TopRank was really starting to gain momentum and growth as a SEO agency. As a result, one of the most memorable sessions for me was, “Coping with Growth: What’s Keeping You Up At Night?”. I specifically remember Barbara Coll of WebMama, Jeff Pruitt of iCrossing and Noel McMichael of Marketleap (Acquired by Digital Impact) sharing exceptionally interesting insights about how they took their companies from being all virtual to either getting acquired, a market leader and in the case of iCrossing, a company of 75 employees and 450 clients.

A few nuggets from this one session that I thought were particularly helpful at the time and have continued to provide dividends:

  • Make sure you have the right tools to manage large campaigns
  • Manage finances closely and add an administrator
  • Employ contract CFO and Accounting so you can focus on biz dev and consulting
  • Create templates for SEO/SEM audits and ongoing reports
  • Add Account Managers/Campaign Managers
  • Don’t underestimate the value of your human capital and quality training
  • Build your brand
  • Define your company objectives and focus
  • Focus on what’s important to your clients
  • Outsource stressful stuff
  • Keep your people happy
  • As you grow, get out of the way and let go of consulting to your staff

There’s a lot more I could share about this particular SES event, but my recommendation for readers of OMB is to be certain they attend a current SES San Jose and to not throw away their notes from any search marketing conference. If you take notes in print, be sure to transfer them to a digital format. Better yet, take notes and post your thoughts to an internal blog. That way you can benefit from both short term knowledge transfer as well as an organized archive for future reference.

If you have talented writers on your team, then leverage that writing magic on your company blog. That way you’ll experience the benefits of knowledge transfer and archiving content as well as producing content that may very well attract new clients. TopRank is doing that this week with posts from Account Manger Jolina Pettice, who is attending/blogging the Chicago ad:tech conference.

I am curious what recollections readers of Online Marketing Blog who attended SES San Jose in 2004 have? Or SES events prior to 2004? What kinds of insight had you gained from these “vintage” conferences that still hold true today?


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