Wrap-Up Thoughts About The Chicago SES

    December 11, 2006

As most of you know, the WebProNews crew was in Chicago last week providing mad amounts of coverage, video and otherwise. Like the Vegas PubCon, the “theme” of Chicago’s SES had to do with social media optimization or SMO (there’s another acronym for the list) and linkbait. The sessions covering topics like how to make your site more appealing to the linkbait/SMO crowd (write compelling content) were always full.

However, linkbait and SMO wasn’t the only sessions with packed houses. Of course, whenever there is a block of sessions devoted to link building strategies, they are always full – although I only attended two of these. Another topic I was happy to see covered was multimedia optimization. Explaining how to make your online video or podcast search index-friendly is very valuable information, especially when you consider just how much these areas are growing.

Another area I was pleased to see covered was mobile search optimization. Thanks to a informative presentation by Cindy Krum of Blue Moon Works a great deal of ignorance surrounding mobile SEO was cleared up quite nicely.

While there were indeed some quality sessions, the prevailing mood from a lot of attendees was of the “meh” variety. Many felt the sessions could have been more advanced instead of repeating the material from sessions past, something I completely understand. I would, however, remind people that not everyone attending these conferences are experts. The crowd’s interaction with the panel during the link Q and A helps proves this thought quite effectively.

All in all, I had a good time at Chicago’s SES, but I think that had as much to do with the people there as much as it did the conference sessions:

Lee Odden – just a quality, quality individual who does some really good work with his blog and his company. Lee also has a great deal of SES coverage, including a number of video interviews done with his Sony Cybershot camera. The video quality of his interviews is surprisingly good, considering they came from a digital camera.

Rand and Rebecca – I had to opportunity to hang out with a couple of the SEOMoz folks for a few hours after the conference wound down on Thursday and these two are some of the best people you can meet. Both are incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. I’m really glad I got the opportunity to get to know these two a little better… even if Lee prevented us from eating sushi. And hey, Rebecca’s an Arrested Development fan, something that pretty much guarantees an individual’s coolness.

Abhilash and Ben Wills – Abhilash might be the most charismatic individual I’ve met in some time – not only that, he has the knowledge and experience to go along with it. Speaking of knowledge, Ben is something of a wunderkind himself. I’ve known Ben for a couple of years now and that’s something I’m really thankful for. These guys are two of best people you could meet (check out Ben’s video interview discussing the video optimization session).

Brian Mark – Brian’s an admin at WebProWorld and it’s always nice to see your “co-workers” give excellent presentations, something Brian did in the shopping search session. I didn’t realize leveraging these comparison shopping engines was that complicated.

The above list is certainly not comprehensive… in fact, I forgot to mention Paul Fischer (thanks for sharing the cabs and hanging out with us, your company will be missed) and Becca Anderson; two quality people I’m certainly glad to be friends with. Be on the look out for my video interview featuring these two. It should be up in a week or so.

All in all, I had a great time in Chicago and I still managed to learn some new things about the search industry. Keep up with social media optimization. It can do wonders for your site marketing efforts. Also, it would be wise to embrace the mobile industry. More and more people are using their mobile devices to surf the web, which means more and more people will be using these devices to search. Having a site optimized for the mobile user will only help your cause.