While this post is not related to rentals, it might help property manager’s that have web sites.
I just got back from SES in San Jose. For those not familiar with SES (which I guess is most of you) it is a search engine conference for people who optimize and market web sites. What that basically means is driving the most traffic to their site as possible and converting it into sales.
Main entrance to the Convention center
This was my first time to SES. I believe that SES in San Jose has only been around for a few years. My main objective going to the conference was to meet as many Google engineers as possible, and to find out how my site can rank better.
I listened to a few radio shows over at WebmasterRadio.fm that really gave the conference high marks and basically said you can not afford to miss it. One in particular came from Jeremy Shoemaker who had an extremely positive experience by increasing his revenue four fold by just attending last year’s show. Pretty much the day after I listened to Jeremy’s show, I got an invite from Google to attend the conference with 20% off. I figured I would learn something to make up the $3,000 price tag for the show (conference, lodging and airline).
Everyone I asked said you will get more out of the conference from meeting people than you will from the actual sessions. Neither one (networking or the sessions) seemed to outweigh the other, but I’m guessing I got more out of the sessions.
I was not sure what to pack, shorts, jeans, T-shirts or a suit? A thought came to mind that the guys in T-shirts and torn jeans are probably the smart ones and the guys in the suits are corporate and don’t know what they are doing. So I went in the middle ground and wore khakis.
Just before leaving for the conference I searched all the blogs and forums and found a private party for all the speakers at the conference that had more room for “us regular attendees”. I emailed Greg Boser and asked for a last minute invite, telling him that this was my first SES conference. I arrived in San Jose around 4pm on Sunday and hadn’t received and email with the party details, so I was kind of bumming about not going.
Fairmont Pool – no one at that bar
So I headed to the hotel pool and got a beer hoping to run into other search engine freaks like myself. I didn’t see any so I headed down to the main bar and ordered a few more beers (buy the way, beers at Fairmont hotel are expensive!). A few people came up to the bar and one of them was Loren Baker who writes a blog on the search engine community which I have never heard of before (sorry Loren). After another beer or so drinking with Loren, Rand Fishkin came by the bar and said hello to Loren. I have been reading Rand’s post for many years and consider him a “heavy weight” in the search community. Rand on many occasions has answered many of my forum questions. Rand said he and his staff were heading to a private party and invited me along. When we got to the party, my name turned up on the list! Very cool, thanks Greg.
The party was put on buy bodog.com which does online gaming. Judging from the party they do very well at it.
At the party I bumped into some of Rand’s team including his mother Gillian who is the president of the company. Come to find out that Rand is only 27 years old. Which is kind of confirming my theory that people that are older and wear the nice suits are probably the ones with just the high level knowledge of business.
Fun with Dynamic sites session
The sessions the first day felt rather boiler-plate to me. I was really surprised that Danny Sullivan was not the best public speaker. But after a while listening to his comments I could tell he was very knowledgeable, you just have to get past his rather quiet speaking style.
The last session of the day was the best and had the youngest panel. The session was on Social Search. Lots of good info on how important blogging is and building a community of others in your field is very important.
I felt like I was getting beat over the head with the whole duplication penalty issue sessions. I was attending most sessions on this topic, but it felt like there was a lot of overlap.
Lunch time was always fun, because they had tables set up with different topics, so you pick a topic table sit down and introduce yourself. I met some neat people this way. Most of them seemed very knowledgeable, and a few had no clue. One guy I met was Robert who was just amazing. I even got to meet a competitor which was kind of fun, they were very nice and offered up great conversation.
Tuesday night was the famous Google Dance. This is what I came for, not for the party but to actually talk with some Google engineers. I was on one of the first buses to get to the Google Plex. I snagged a t-shirt and started looking for the University Room that Matt Cutts in his blog had spoke of. I started to head in the direction of the room and I said to myself – hey enjoy the moment a little and get a beer. So I did and I even relaxed enough to grab some food too. Then off I went in search of this room of great knowledge. I was somewhat confused by the directions so I started asking around, some of the people didn’t know of the room and gave me bad directions so I ended up in places where I shouldn’t have been, oops!
University Room at Google
But finally I found the spot and was escorted up to this small room. I was surprised that not many people where there. The people that were there were people that I consider heavy weights like Rand and Aaron Wall. I was able to speak with 4 of the engineers in the room and I have to say I didn’t really get my questions answered. They all seemed to want to speak on a higher level and not get dirty in the details. At least I tried.
I also bumped into a competitor there and I was happy to hear that they also didn’t get their questions answered, as well. I also met Toni Carreiro on the buss ride back to the conference and we talked about how many of us own Treos and how it is hard to live without them. Toni does web design for real estate sites, which good because her husband has a real estate site.
Google Dance shirt
I guess I shouldn’t be upset. They did provide free beer and food and a pretty cool party. I guess I was misled or misinformed from others who spoke of this event like it was going to get my question answered. I guess I actually knew better than that.
I ended up recording most of the sessions on my Treo. I was really surprised I fit all of them on there with a 1 gig external card. I did not see anywhere that you could not record them.
1 in 1000 chance to win the car
I tried hoping sessions on the ones that didn’t have a clear winner for me. That didn’t work well for me so I stayed put after that. Some of the best sessions for me where the ones on link baiting. Jennifer Laycock was one of the best panelists with the most information you could use on the subject.
On the last day at lunch a person walked up to our table and asked what we thought of the Google Dance and I told him honestly what I thought. Turns out that I was speaking to Adam Lasnik who planned the University room event to meet the Google engineers. I had a nice conversation with him and I think I came away with more info from him than the engineers, which is saying something since he has only been with Google for 5 months.
Funny to see Matt at the back of the room (left side)
Overall the conference didn’t have that many “ah ha” moments for me. It was more of just confirming stuff I already knew.
Will the conference increase my revenue 4 fold in the next part of the year like it had for Jeremy? Probably not, but I am looking forward to PubCon in Vegas in November to learn more.