SES: 14 Takeaways

Filed in Conferences/Educ. by Matt McGee on August 28, 2007 6 Comments

SES San Jose 2007Last week I shared my first “takeaway” from SES San Jose: I get a lot more out of the sessions when I’m not live-blogging every word the speakers say. But there was a lot more that I’ll be holding onto in the coming weeks and months. Here are 14 more takeaways from San Jose….

1.) PR guru Greg Jarboe shared two great sources to track Google News:

a) Newsknife tracks the news sources that appear the most in Google News, which tells you who to target with your PR efforts.

b) Google News Report does the same, while also tracking day-to-day headlines and many more stats/charts.

2.) When looking at the appearance of videos in Universal Search results, look at SEO factors but also consider: number of views, number of comments, and timing (fresh videos vs. old, viral videos). (from Sherwood Stranieri, Catalyst Online)

3.) David Bailey of Google (an engineer) managed to show three consecutive Google SERP screenshots that did not have Wikipedia on page one. The streak came to an end when the 4th screenshot he showed had a Wikipedia listing at #1. And the earth spun back on its normal axis at that point.

4.) Erik Collier of The addition of blended search has led to a 30% drop in users clicking through to the 2nd page of search results. They’re getting what they want on page one with blended results. Read that italicized part again. Let it sink in.

5.) On a related note, Jim Lanzone of said this during his keynote interview with Chris Sherman: On its SERPs, 50% of interaction (clicks) happen outside the 10 “web results.” 10% of searches come from “search suggestions” that are given as you type your query.

6.) Marissa Mayer dropped one interesting “bomb” during her keynote interview with Danny Sullivan: An audience member referenced eye-tracking studies which show that, in the post-Universal Search world, searchers’ eyes are drawn to video and image thumbnails in the organic results and the paid ads in the right column are being ignored. The audience member asked for Marissa’s reaction to that, and she said Google hopes to balance out the page so that paid listings can be as eye-catching as organic results. She specifically mentioned the possibility of “rich media” ads in the right column. Methinks the Google SERPs are going to get a lot more cluttered in the future….

7.) Search engines are reluctant to rely on videos posted on corporate web sites. They prefer the known structure, format, technology, etc., of video portals like YouTube, MetaCafe, and others. They expect this to change over time and be able to rely more on all sources. Videos on company sites are being crawled, but may not currently be able to be displayed in Universal Search; instead, might end up on Yahoo Video, Google Video, etc.

8.) Matt Bailey is one of the best speakers on the circuit. Maybe the best. He can take the most gaddawful, boring material and make it fun; if you saw his performance during the “Web Analytics & Measuring Success” panel, you know what I’m talking about. His presentation on the “Usability & SEO” session is also not to be missed. When you’ve been to several SES shows, you start to pick and choose sessions to attend based on who’s speaking; always choose Matt’s sessions.

9.) User generated content (UGC) is a hot topic. In addition to the session devoted to UGC on which I spoke, it was mentioned to some degree in other sessions like “Local Search Techniques,” “Shopping Search Tactics,” “Buzz Monitoring,” and “CSS/AJAX/Web 2.0 and Search.”

10.) Stoney de Geyter and his Pole Position Marketing team are good people and good pool players, too. But what an advantage: They have a pool table at the office!

11.) The quality of food has a big impact on the quality of the conference. After the beatdown that SES took in June when SMX Advanced served hot meals for lunch, the food last week in San Jose was much better and everyone noticed. Fresh sandwiches for lunch, excellent desserts, and ice cream as the snack on day four were all great additions. (But they still offered those nasty, cardboard-esque “soft” pretzels. No, thanks.)

12.) The other huge improvement was the addition of Wi-Fi in the session rooms. That made the whole week a lot more enjoyable, and a lot more productive.

13.) Robert Clough has built up a team of outstanding, high-quality people at Search Engine Guide. I’m lucky that my role as a moderator on the Small Business Ideas Forum makes me part of that team. We all met for the first time on Tuesday, and it was like we’d known each other forever.

14.) My favorite quote of the conference didn’t come from Michael Gray (believe it or not), it came from Rob Key of Converseon: “You no longer own your own brand. It’s now a conversation.” That was during the Buzz Monitoring session.

If you were at SES San Jose, tell me what you took away from the show!

Comments (6)

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  1. davidmihm says:

    Matt, I also picked up on that ‘bomb’ that Marissa dropped. Google must have done eye-tracking studies of their own before releasing Universal search, but it sure seemed to catch the SEO community by surprise just how powerful those embedded image and video thumbnails were.

    I think you’re right, that Google’s SERPS ARE going to get a lot more cluttered, and I also think that the eye-tracking studies are going to lead to a lot more focus on video & image SEO in the very near future.

  2. Miriam says:

    Oh no, I so do NOT want video ads. When Google first showed up, the reason I liked them more than Yahoo was because their SERPs were so plain. Google: stay plain! Please:)Plain is nice. Plain is usable.

    This is a great post, Matt. You are pointing out such important stuff.

    David..didn’t you also tell me that one of the things the eyetracking study revealed was that the entries below the video in Universal Search(say in spots 5 & 6) might actually get more traffic than that top spots, because the eye has already been drawn down?

    I’m pretty sure it was you that mentioned this to me and I thought this was really fascinating!

  3. davidmihm says:

    Yep, I did mention that. It’s part of a phenomenon that Gord Hotchkiss called “chunking.” In his words, “The Golden Triangle” (that used to be at the top of the page) is shifted down whenever there’s an image or video thumbnail.

  4. Matt McGee says:

    The new-look SERPs are certainly going to change the way we all interact with them, aren’t they?

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