SES Toronto 2009 Day 1 Recap

by Shagun Vatsa on June 8, 2009

Attending my very first Search Engine Strategies Conference here in the heart of downtown Toronto was a unique experience. Despite being an early Monday morning, Day 1 was packed with sessions covering a wide array of search marketing topics. The Expo Hall was busy all day, making it a great opportunity and venue for networking and re-connecting with old friends. I must say, the Bing Booth did attract a lot of attention! The combination of valuable informational sessions and conversational discussion panels made my overall learning experience worthwhile.

Here is a quick summary of the key takeaways from Day 1 at SES Toronto.

Opening Keynote by Tara Hunt, Author of Whuffie Factor

Tara Hunt’s opening keynote emphasized on the importance of creating Social Capital = Whuffie. It essentially focuses on how a business can create a brand for themselves by building their trust and reputation  through interacting with the community that they are marketing to. 

In her presentation, she talks about the 5 principles of generating Whuffie. The main idea behind the concept explains how making connections with your community over a period of time is the key ingredient in generating trust and eventually Whuffie. Leveraging social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook help in gaining traction with your community and build the social capital necessary to generate the surreal customer experience which Tara’s refers to as Automagic.

Panel: Internationalizing Your Campaigns/Websites

An insightful session by our very own SEM Lady, Helen Overland, Kerstin Baker-Ash and Andy Atkin Kruger provided some very interesting tips on how to successfully globalize your campaings keeping the local community in mind.

Key Takeaways

  • Plan your globalization strategies centrally – Be a global provider with a local focus
  • Invest in a regional host and TLD (Top Level Domain)
  • Make regional link building efforts through for example, your local chamber of commerce
  • Don’t try to save on translation by using online translation tools. Enhance your interaction by investing in a local professional translator
  • Focus on regional search engines
  • Don’t rely heavily on keyword tools as they are underdeveloped. Generate data with the use of social networks such as focus groups or refer to existing data in print media

Orion Panel: Is Page Rank Broken? The Future of Search

This is was personal favourite panel of Day 1. Lead by Stacey Jarvis, Tim Schigel and Mike Grahan, this session was inundated with some hardcore statistics on search usage. With search evolving from being textual based in the 90’s to multimedia based in the present era, these stats give us a great insight on how the future of search will shape up.

  1. 98% of Canadians online utilize search
  2. 8% growth in search engine usage comparing ’08 to ’07
  3. The number of searches has gone up to 4 or 5 searches per day
  4. 42% or research sessions require refinement and 50% of sessions average at 30 minutes
  5. Only 1 in 4 queries are satisfactory and 15% of queries result in relevant results

Tim Schigel, CEO of ShareThis, added to panel by talking about the how the navigation is shifting to being more people based. 99% of online audiences share webpages and having a organization tool which aggregates all information and makes online sharing easy has become imperative. Sharing data has become extremely valuable especially with 81% o f all social media users, willingly sharing information that benefits other people.

Panel: Optimizing for Video Search – Virgin Territory

Gregory Markel offered some very actionable up to date advice on optimizing videos:

  • Community factors hold more importance than keyword factors.
  • User ratings, reviews, and comments are important.
  • Focus on reaching out to related groups or channels and inviting fellow users.
  • Factors such as the number of times your video has been embedded or honored are important.
  • The quality and nature of inbound links to your video are crucial.
  • Standard on-page SEO plays a supportive role i.e: Keyword rich descriptions, tags, and titles.

That’s it for tonight – Stay tuned for more coverage of SES Toronto Day 2.

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