I attended SES London on Thursday, my first since way back in 2002 or was that 2003, Christ I can’t remember!
Customers Prospects and
The first session I went to way a presentation by Brian Eisenberg of Future now entitled Redefining the Customer loosely speaking, Brian hit on important aspects to consider when designing a site, usability issues, seeing site visitors as citizens rather than ‘users’ and how the small changes can really have huge impacts. One funny thing during this speech was the woman sat next to me who started to snore whilst waking intermittently agreeing and nodding with what he was saying! Bizarre person. Anyhow on the whole a good session if a little too ‘markety’ for my liking.
The second session was entitled Dynamic Websites: Beyond the Basics and for me, whilst it didn’t teach me very much of anything I didn’t know already was hugely entertaining due in large part to the contribution of Mikkel Demib Svendsen who was an absolute hoot delivering his part of the session in an informative but humourous way.
Then there was Ralph Tegtmeier , aka Fantomaster who in fairness had a hard act to follow but made the key points about controlling Pagerank and ensuring that you adopt an optimal approach. I wasn’t that impressed by Ralphs’ contribution as for me at least he could have gotten a whole lot more specific and focused on one particular aspect as opposed to just sticking up lots of theoretical boxes with arrows pointing to them and not saying very much else on the wheres and why’s of it all. I got the feeling that it was more about if you want to know more about how to do this then come and talk me and maybe we can do business but hey.
The 3rd guy in the session Kristjan Mar Hauksson of Nordic eMarketing had ran out of time and zipped though some top level stuff around how optimizing your site and it’s structure can help it’s bottom line and drive more sales. Besides lots of ‘no shit sherlock’ moments overall it was a to the point here’s what you should be doing and come and see me to learn how we can help you do the same kind of thing approach.
After lunch I went to Beyond Linkbait: Getting Authoritative Online Mentions speakers were Alan Webb, CEO, Abakus Internet Marketing , Mikkel deMib Svendsen, Creative Director of deMib.com and Brian Turner, Director of Britecorp, Ltd . Alan Webb or Webby as he has been known over the years gave an excellent run down of tactics and methods that you should use when building your links and getting those all important social votes. I actually learnt something from Alan too which is very cool and will be used to good effect over the coming weeks and months. To share, it’s the linkdomain:site.com “keyword keyword” -site:site.com method of using Yahoo to find out who is linking to you thematically. For those who know what I’m on about, I’m sure you’ll appreciate the practicalities of this.
Mikkel deMib Svendsen was again on good form using a mix of humour and outrage to deliver a message that covered some of the more controversial link acquisition methods. Whilst a little blackhat, the important message he was getting out there was that as a site owner or site admin at least, you really do need to be aware of these methods and more importantly the means for closing such loops.
Brian Turner delivered a social link node presentation whereby he gave an illustration of how websites are social nodes and of how some are more active than others and of how if you use them in the right way and create the right conditions in the right regions of your vertical then you can harness the power that comes from these and use it to boost your core product or service. By and large I heard what he was saying but felt that the whole idea of buying communities and gaining mindshare publically is very hard to achieve and needs careful nurturing and TLC. Why? Well the idea of building a strong niche and using communities to help achieve that is all well and good, yet there is a fine line between getting a community to participate and drive love towards your business and alienating everyone to the point that they all up sticks and piss off out of it. This graph from Alexa showing what happened when SEO Chat was acquired sort of illustrates what can happen to a community if that community suddenly feels that they are contributing to the bottom line of some would be or megacorp.
So yeah, I think you can build it and grow it, but it’s difficult to just buy it and expect it to carry on as before.
The next session I attended was entitled Local Search Marketing Tactics which to be honest I really don’t know why I attended as it was very low level stuff that I could have read about online. Still, handy for those who wanted to know about getting in to the local search results and searching locally too.
Web Metrics and Analytics
My final session of the day was the Web Analytics & Measuring Success session which covered the whole metrics thing from the perspective of people who had both developed, commented upon and used them regularly.Moderatored by Mike Grehan SES London Co-Chair and Founder and CEO of Searchvisible Ltd
Andrew Goodman focused on Google analytics and showed a series of graphs and trend data highlighting how generally web analytics can be used to identify key user actions and draw benefits to your site as a result of that knowledge.
It was to be a common theme, Stephen Turner spoke elaborated on the concept of ‘segmenting’ which for the unawares amongst you is the means of being able to compare and contrast metric data and determine with increased clarity whether user action a or b was more effective because of measurement c or d. This can be pretty powerful in reporting how people behave on your domain. You could for example have a look at the behaviours of people from different geographic regions for instance and fine tune a page or section as a result. I use a tool called indextools daily which gives a similar level of granularity enabling you to draw down to very specific aspects of user visits both individually or as a group.
Demo Zlotin from San Diego gave an interesting account, I particularly liked his shelf analogy whereby he showed a graphic of a SERP with the top 5 positions inhabited or influenced by a company with vested interests and strengths within each domain. His segmentation point being, that by using your refererr data and knowing your presence you can quickly determine how effective or ineffective your recent strategies have been.
Frank Watson aka aussiewebmaster talked about how the knowledge and use of web analytics had helped his company save millions over the years. The message being track track and track again.
Overall, the day at SES was good. It was good to be back in Islington again being born and bred and whatnot. I met people who I’ve only ever seen before online and it’s always good to get a feel for what is happening out there on the ground. To be honest, my day visit doesn’t really do the thing any justice as by and large these events are more of a social networking opportunity the majority of which happen in the hotel bar and surrounding pubs and restaurants of an evening. Still, it’s always good to get out of the office, who knows maybe I’ll manage a longer visit elsewhere some other time.