Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo is one of those industry events that holds a special place in our calendar’s heart. This past week industries luminaries and knowledge-hungry online marketers alike traveled across the globe to soak up fresh insight and network with like-minded professionals at the much-anticipated San Francisco edition of SES.  The aimClear team enjoyed attending a dynamic variety of sessions this go-round.  Read on for a synopsis of  the conference,  key session takeaways & additional links to comprehensive coverage.

Day 1
Opening Keynote
Kicking off Day 1 was best-selling other auhor & former Kodak CMO Jeffrey Hayzlett. Jeff revved up the crowd with touching video clips, eye-popping social media marketing stats and a healthy dose of invigorating profanity. aimClear live tweeted this kick-off event. If you missed it, check out full coverage of Jeff’s opening keynote.

How Large Advertisers are Accelerating their SEO with Social Media
While some tracks at industry events focus on acclimating small biz owners to online marketing, this session, featuring Jeff MacGurn of Covario and Doug Loots of Wells Fargo, served up inspiring success stories from an enterprise-level point of view.

Introduction to Information Retrieval on the Web
Mike Grehan gave a fascinating solo presentation on his findings while writing his next Search Marketing book.

Some Key Takeaways:

  • The origins of search engines may lie in a groundbreaking article from 1945.
  • We may begin to see purely transactional search results if the query calls for it.
  • One of the strongest signals sent to Google comes from users’ behavior while the Google Toolbar is installed.

Meaningful SEO Metrics: Going Beyond the Numbers
Moderator John Marshall introduced Richard ZwickyRay “Catfish” Comstock, and Jon Glick, who took turns providing audience members with a deeper understanding of website metrics. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone walking away from this session without a significantly sturdier grip on the beauty of analytics and how they impact broader marketing campaigns.

Content Marketing Optimization
Heather Lloyd-Martin gave a warm welcome to solo-presenter Lee Odden who, in addition to taking us through the evolution of content marketing and the growing impact of social media, served up a heaping plate of tactics and strategies for top-notch optimization. This session was live-tweeted and you can find full coverage in Content Is King, But Only When Optimized! Tips From #SESSF.

Deep Dive Into Analytics: When Bounce Rate No Longer Floats Your Boat
During this session, Bryan Eisenberg, Tami Dalley, Matt Bailey & Marty Weintraub shared some seriously deep tips on cutting through dashboard BS to better interpret  and utilize analytics reports.

Some Key Takeaways:
Bryan Eisenberg

  • Analytics were never about accuracy, they’re about trends.

Marty Weintraub

  • Attribution has actually been around for years with cookies and databases.

Tami Dalley

  • You need different strategies for different keyword clusters for different markets.

SEO Through Blogs & Feeds
Wrapping up Day 1, moderator Craig Macdonald introduced Sally Falkow and Lee Odden to share tips and takeaways for comprehensive content generation and syndication. aimClear live-tweeted this end-of-day event. Full coverage lives here: Think Outside The Blog: Tasty Tips For Feed SEO.

Day 2
Morning Keynote: Hot Triggers- The Power To Change Behavior
Keynote speaker BJ Fogg woke us up on Day 2 with smarts, humor and a slew of self-deprecating photos. aimClear live-tweeted as much of this session as possible (hey, it’s difficult to capture a hilarious Playmobile video in 140 characters). Coverage can be found here: Manipulating User Behavior: Hot Triggers & Human Psyche.

News Search Optimization
Brent Payne, Allison Fabella, Topher Kohan, and Eleanor Hong continued the morning with ample advice on curating news stories for optimal crawlability and indexing. Full coverage coming soon to aimClear blog.

Search, PR and the Social Butterfly
Lisa BuyerKristjan Mar HaukssonSally Falkow, and Brett Tabke took turns sharing their two cents on How to optimize & distribute press releases like a pro.

Competitive Research
Audience donned their sleuth caps along with Kristopher JonesMark MunroeEli Goodman, and Bill Leake as together we dove into various methods for digging up competitive intelligence. Learning from your competition’s strengths and pouncing on areas of weakness never sounded so appetizing. Stay tuned at aimClear blog for full session coverage.

SEW Labs Video Lab Primer
Greg Jarboe & Jonathan Allen directly addressed audience questions during the Video Lab & Primer session.

Some key takeaways:
Greg Jarboe

  • YouTube is different because it’s a search engine and it’s social media. Successful content is both easily discoverable and compelling to share.
  • If you are trying to strike gold with a “viral hit,” you’re missing the point of how people consume video. Do a series, do How-To’s.

Link Building In August of 2010
Jim Boykin triumphantly returned to SES to present his updated take on link building in 2010.

Some key takeaways:

  • The places that are the most trusted for links are the places that SEOs haven’t corrupted.
  • Library folders of .EDU’s, staff folders of .GOV’s. This is the good stuff, you can’t buy links from here.
  • Linkbait is mainly for bloggers. Trustbait is for college professors and .Gov sites. We go for Trustbait.

On Wednesday night, aimClear’s Marty Weintraub & David Szetela of Clix Marketing entertained exclusive guests at their famed networking shindig, Schmoozfest. The booze was ample, the finger food was unforgettable, and the guests were tipsy. In short, everyone had a gay old time!

Day 3
Morning Keynote – The Four Pillars of Building Instant Trust Online
Landing page optimization pro Tim Ash delivered the final morning keynote at #SESSF. Check out 4 Ways To Build Instant & Sustainable Trust Online for full coverage of the tactics and takeaways.

PPC or SEO? The Ultimate Search Marketing Battle
Melanie Mitchell,
Rand FishkinThomas Bindl, and Benu Aggarwal faced off in the battle of the century: PPC vs. SEO. Though all parties had compelling arguments, the general consensus was a rather amicable one: both paid search and organic SEO must coexist in harmony in an integrated marketing strategy in order to achieve the most successful results possible.

Social & the Marketing Mix
Moderator Kate Kaye lead Tracy FalkeBobby Figueroa and Harry J. Gold through a lively discussion of best practices for integrating social media into an online marketing campaign. This session was live-tweeted by aimClear– stick around for an archive of coverage at aimClear blog.

Ads in a Quality Score World
Once again, this SES flagship session united top PPC experts to muse on what exactly affects the almighty Quality Score.  Here are some key takeways:

David Szetela

  • QS rises as keywords and ad combinations prove CTR. It looks ugly at the start, the answer is to wait.
  • With display QS, there are no keywords, ad text or associated relevance. It’s all CTR then!
  • On keyword grouping – each keyword needs 2 root words in common. The roots should be in the ad.
  • The biggest mistake he sees is no Call to Action- it’s not implicit that you’re selling something!

Brad Geddes

  • Tweak Ad copy for more relevance. It’s not just about using the same keywords in the, use Google Sets and the Wonder Wheel to find words Google thinks are more related, more relevant!
  • Once your landing page QS is good, you don’t have to optimize it for QS. Optimize for conversions.

Killer Facebook Marketing: Do’s and Don’t’s
A bit of a grab-bag session, most attendees wanted Facebook marketing tips while the panel was often steered onto the topic of privacy. Moderator, panelists and the audience butted heads, which made for an entertaining and topically broad session.

Some key takeways:
Marty Weintraub

  • (Regarding FB privacy for advertisers) I don’t get why there’s any other considerations besides American Law.
  • Facebook ads are insidious and beautiful, sort of like if the content network actually worked.
  • The reason why we’re having this privacy discussion speaks to the power of the Facebook ad targeting tool.

Mark Rosenberg

  • It’s not kosher to use people’s status updates in your ads. Whoever wrote it owns it.
  • Employees can’t post as consumers on their own company FB page. Probably violates FTC rules.

Li Evans

  • At the end of the day, if you’re not being honest, people are gonna find out and tear you apart.

Thanks, SES crew & crowd, for the amazing and insightful week. Catch y’all on the next leg of our 2010 speaking agenda!

For more coverage, check out these fine publications:

aimclear Pre-Conference Coverage