Type “search engine conference” into Google or Yahoo and the SES Conference & Expo likely will come up first in the results.
The SES (Search Engine Strategies) Conference first was held in 1999, when Google was taking its first steps and Yahoo was barely out of diapers.
SES brings together the people behind the search engines and the people behind the websites that benefit from them.
The conference is presented by the website Search Engine Watch, which covers all aspects of search engines and search engine marketing. The site was launched by Danny Sullivan in 1997, long before the words “search” and “engine” were linked in most people’s minds.
Like the website, the SES Conference focuses on helping site owners maximize their ability to be found on search engines. It is an excellent opportunity to meet experts and gain insights into the industry. Participants have included the University of San Francisco, which offers a 100% online Advanced Professional Certificate program in Internet marketing and is listed among America’s best colleges byU.S. News & World Report.
Much like the industry it represents, the conference has grown and evolved greatly in the short time it has been around. SES now plays host to 11 events annually in cities around the United States as well as in London, New Delhi and Shanghai. Previous conference sites have included Tel Aviv and Hong Kong.
Although the conferences have a single focus – maximizing companies’ search engine results – they are approached from a variety of directions.
Sample seminar topics for SES San Francisco, which ran the week of Aug. 13, 2012, include “Business Optimization in a Digital Age,” “Pandas, Penguins, Authors and Links” (which covered the impact of Google’s recent updates intended to weed out low-quality sites from searches) and “Spy vs. Spy: Competitive Analysis.”
Changes and advances in search engine technology, and in what users expect from search engines, mean an ever-growing list of topics. As a result, the three-day conference agenda is packed with topics and speakers. In addition, the conference is book-ended by two days of training sessions.
The conference also has changed over the years in response to the demands and requests of attendees.
Mike Grehan, producer of the SES international conference series, wrote about those changes in an Aug. 8, 2012, post on Search Engine Watch.
Perhaps the most significant change, he said, is that “90 percent of our content is now geared towards the more seasoned practitioner with three to five years experience.”
That’s a reflection of businesses’ increased reliance on search engines to boost awareness and site visits. Search engines have become, in some cases, the primary method of reaching the public.
SES isn’t ignoring the novices, though. The conference will “still have a steady stream of marketers new to online and therefore we have kept what we call our ‘kick start’ track featuring fundamental and introductory lessons,” Grehan said.
Another change at the conference is that there are fewer panelists.
“The audience feedback has been loud and clear: ‘We want more in-depth solo sessions with leading industry practitioners,’” Grehan noted.
Discussion panels still are on the agenda, but “70 percent of the content is delivered in these much more intensive type sessions. Formal panel presentations are generally kept to two people, allowing much more audience engagement by our expert speakers and a greater learning experience for attendees.”