Search Engine Optimization :: Lyndsay Walker :: Toronto, Ontario

SES – Day Three

I didn’t have even one drop of alcohol the night before, but I woke up exhausted and hurting. After a very disappointing breakfast, I wondered down to the talk with Eric Schmidt. It was very hard to hear, but what I did hear was very interesting. Eric talked about privacy, and how Google wants to be trusted and will never willingly or happily hand over search data the way AOL did. Eric talked about the federal subpoena Google fought and eventually won – the federal government had asked for search data and they didn’t get it.

After this session, I dragged my poor beat up body to the Linking Strategies session. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear a lot of the session and will have to go back through the presentation to pick up the things that I missed.

The other sessions I had hoped to attend that afternoon included Buying and Selling Links and the In House Forum. Unfortunately, I missed them both due to illness, and as a result ended up staying in Wednesday night.

Google Dance

I admit, I was pretty nervous about having to go all the way to Mountain View solo, without knowing anyone. I had posted as such on the SEW forums. When I got back to my room after another good hour of wondering around the Exhibit Hall, I had a private message from Joe Morin – offering to introduce me to some other people.

Joe advised being out front the Convention Center at around 6:00, despite the advertised departure time of 6:30. It was about 6 when I got his message, it was ten minutes later by time I got there. Well, he wasn’t kidding, there was a massive line by time I got there, and it grew very fast. I met Joe and he introduced me to several people. And off to Google we went.

On the bus, we were all ID’d and given wristbands for those over the legal drinking age of 21. Weird for me, since back home in Manitoba the drinking age is only 18. However, I clear the US drinking age by a few years, so I was given my bright yellow wristband.

I felt bad for everyone – the Google reps who were giving out the wristbands weren’t even putting them on for people. Have you ever tried to put a wristband on yourself? Not easy. Thankfully, I am a wristband pro. After several months now of wristbanding hundreds of people at the Winnipeg Blue Bomber games, I’ve learned a trick or two about putting a wristband on people of all shapes and sizes. Rob, who I was sitting beside, managed to get the sticky part right on his arm. After a quick rip and a bit of pain, Rob’s wristband was off his arm and I put it back on him nice and neat.

The entry way into the complex was lined with Google employees cheering and welcoming everyone as they came in. The theme of the party was Google Labs, with the decorations all themed as the Periodic Table of Elements, but with Google services as those elements. Very neat. We picked up our complimentary Google Dance shirts – WOW, not only did they have sizes OTHER then men’s large, but they actually had women’s shirts!! I was so impressed by that, after already surrendering my SES shirt to my significant other since no doubt he will get far more use out of an XL shirt than my little 5’2 frame ever could.

They were serving a wide variety of beer as well as wine. Now, I don’t drink, and despite several predictions of me being sloshed by the end of the night, I think I had one Coke and that was it. The food under the tent left something to be desired for the oh-so-picky eater that I am. I had half a corn dog and that was about it. What I didn’t know is that the Google cafeteria was open and serving a lot more food.

We headed upstairs to the University Room for the meet the engineers session. There weren’t a lot of people up there at first, but by time we were there, Matt and a Microsoft rep were into quite a debate. Joe decided to thrust me in front of Matt so he could see my “Cuttlette” shirt. He got quite a kick out of it and a few pictures were taken. Unfortunately, none with my camera so I am at the mercy of Joe, Matt, and whoever else’s cameras were used for my impromptu photo op.

The next hour or so was spent in the increasingly crowded room chatting with various people. I met Jessica Bowman from Enterprise Rent-a-Car and we became fast friends. I also chatted with Dan Thies for a while – he is a really great guy. Vanessa Fox used me once as a positive Google Sitemaps example. On Thursday, when I decided to launch this blog, I knew I’d need it indexed fast. I submitted a sitemap and within a half hour I was crawled and indexed. I don’t know if Googlebot was on steroids that day, but I was impressed and wasn’t afraid to tell people that using Google Sitemaps (a.k.a. Google Webmaster Central) is GREAT.

Eventually our group made it back over to the Labs area. By that time our group had become myself, Jessica, Sally, David, Craig, Rob, Juan, and Bruce Clay. We all, save for David who was chatting with the Analytics people, positioned ourselves in the giant cut out Google logo for a Polaroid moment. That picture will be posted as soon as I get home and get scan it.

By this time, there are thousands of people milling around and you can’t really move too much or see too much without bumping into people. Because the majority of the party was outside, this also meant that there was lots of smoke around. By 10:30 I was developing a nasty headache from the smoke and decided to call it a night. The others were going to stay, though at 11 they’d be kicking everyone out anyway. By time I got back to my hotel room, it was 11:30 and I pretty much dropped down and fell asleep right away. It was a great night

SES – Day Two

Day 2 had lots of great sessions, and I had trouble choosing between them. For the morning, I stayed with the Advanced Organic track, then switched to the Linking track in the afternoon.

The first session I attended was “Can You Please Them All”. Aaron Wall, Dave Davies, and Michael Murray talked about what matters most to the search engines, and the specific things that each search engine likes. Rahul Lahiri from Ask was available for Q&A.

The second session was the Duplicant Content session with Shari Thurow, Mikkel Svendsen, Matt Cutts from Google, Tim Converse from Yahoo!, and Rahul Lahiri from Ask. This ended up being a rather comical session, as it was Mikkel vs. the rest of the panel as he tried to convince the audience that automating keyword replacement is a great idea. The others were quick to label any type of automation as spam, but it was very lighthearted and a lot of fun. During the Q&A, however, I would like to highlight a quote from Mr. Svendsen:

“Have fun and spam the engines.”

Because MSN did not have a representative at this session, it truly became a “pick on MSN” session. Someone said, though I can’t remember who, said that MSN really cared, they would have sent someone to represent them at this session.

At lunch I wondered around the Exhibit Hall for a while, picking up some cool swag including a stuffed goat from Trexy. Okay, I admit – I have a lot of stuffed animals, but mostly Canadian critters. I can honestly say I’ve never had a stuffed goat before and I think Trexy’s goat will make a fine addition to my collection.

I spent the afternoon learning all about Link Building and Site Architecture.

Mike Grehan, ahh, he’s a funny guy – first thing he did was pull a fast one on the audience. He said he had placed a yellow post-it under one of the chairs, and whoever had that post-it on their chair had to stand up and tell everyone why his or her site deserved to rank number one. He laughed at all the paniced faces in the crowd. Another thing that sets Mike apart is his use of a shoehorn as a pointer. Definitely a creative one, that Mike is.

Back at home, Mark had mentioned that at a Mike Grehan session, the phrase “green fairy dust” would surely be used. Mark, I think you should know that it took Mike nine minutes to say “green fairy dust”.

Eric Ward and Debra Mastaler also talked about link building, and link myths and mistakes.

The Site Architecture session, I have to admit, was disappointing. The majority of the presentation dealt with duplicate content – something that a lot of the crowd had already heard about earlier in the day.

Barbara Coll, Derrick Wheeler, and Matt Bailey presented. They talked about robots.txt, session IDs, and redirects – things that had been mentioned already. 404s were grazed upon briefly, and SSIs and other headers were not discussed at all.

The other disappointing aspect of this session was the replacement of a Q&A with a site clinic. Instead of taking questions from the audience, they took web sites and examined them. So instead of taking probably 6 or 7 questions, we examined two web sites. The second web site the owner even admitted that it didn’t need help, he just wanted to know it was okay. I felt that a great waste of my time, the presenters’ time, and the audiences’ time.

And so ended Day 2’s sessions.

SES – Day One

So far today, I have attended the following sessions…

Search Engine Marketing – Introduction
Since it is my first SES, I thought I’d attend this session to get used to things. Plus, Danny was speaking and I figured that would be a good experience. The session was very interesting, though I can’t say I learned anything new.

Search Term Research & Targetting
I came into this one a bit late because I originally sat in on the Search Landscape session. I don’t know if it was where I was sitting or what, but I found it very hard to see the detail on the power point slides, and couldn’t really tell what Michael Lanz was saying – he seemed to be speaking quite fast (maybe time restraints?) . Anywho, since I had deliberated which session to attend, I ended up switching.

I caught the end of Christine Churchill’s presentation and saw all of Dan Thies’s presentation. He’s a great speaker, great at keeping the audience’s attention. I’ll post specifics of his presentation later.

Social Search – Up Close with Google
Shashi Seth from Google talked about two new products – Search Topics and Subscribed Links. The presentation was short, only about 30 minutes, and I only stuck around for about a half hour of the Q&A.

For the last session of the day, I believe I will attend The Search Laboratories.

I know of know public parties, so I hope to explore a little bit of downtown San Jose this evening.