SES Toronto: The Leading Search & Social Marketing Event

CBJ Onsite

Now in its seventh year, SES Toronto is the leading authority on Search Engine Marketing (SEM). The event was packed with sessions covering topics such as PPC management, keyword research, SEO, social media, local, mobile, link building, duplicate content, multiple site issues, video optimization, site optimization, usability and more while offering high-level strategy, big picture, keynotes, an exhibit floor, networking events, parties and more.

Hosted at the Hyatt Regency, the turnout at this event was staggering. As more businesses commit themselves to building an online presence to extend their reach, the information that these experts and keynotes had to share was invaluable.

The first day consisted of basic workshops to provide the practices, applications, and hands-on exposure the beginners need to become a top performer in their fields. It also served as a warm-up to help newcomers keep up with the rest of the exhibition. For those with more experience, the workshops provided an opportunity to experience firsthand the latest developments in search engine strategy.

The next two days of the conference were jam-packed with speakers, forums and networking opportunities. A personal favourite was listening to Maile Ohye, Senior Developer Programs Engineer at Google. It was a rare opportunity to get an exclusive peek into the latest in Google Search and its one-stop shop for webmaster resources, Webmaster Central.  Ohye delved into Google’s approach to supporting site owners, and its breadth of offerings in Webmaster Central.

Another great session could have well been called “How Search Engines Work.” In this solo presentation by Mike Grehan, Global VP Content, SES/Search Engine Watch/ClickZ, he delved into the methods used by crawler-based search engines, such as Yahoo and Google. Understanding how search engines gather and index information from billions of documents proves to be essential knowledge for search engine marketers. Having a better understanding of how hyperlink-based ranking algorithms (i.e. Google’s PageRank works) proves helpful in developing a solid linking strategy. The presentation was broken down into simple-to-understand terms and analogies, so the audience could easily absorb how keywords are weighted, how end-user behaviour can affect ranking and, most importantly, how to future-proof a search marketing strategy in the new decade of 2.0.

There were tonnes of things to see and learn, but one last highlight was a session called “Search, PR & the Social Butterfly,” which talked about taking social media to the boardroom. As social media continue to become more prevalent, coupled with the demise of traditional media outlets, companies have gotten a big lift with marketing tools such as PR, when the territory was once ruled by advertising agencies. This session offered the idea to nix the outdated press kits and media lists, and build a keyword-rich online presence with status updates and Twitter feeds.
SES Toronto was a worthwhile event that any marketing department can benefit from. If you missed this one, note that SES has conferences around the world.