I’m sitting in my San Jose hotel room a few blocks from the Search Engine Strategies conference thinking how much better the information about the conference is … right here on my pc … than at the conference itself. I’m not knocking SES (yet), just noting that a broadband connection and good website coverage means that even up in my little Oregon town I can “see” the emerging online world as well – in some ways much better – than hanging out in the middle of things here in Silicon Valley. Microsoft’s MIX06 had more PCs all over the place where SES, like last year, has a long line to check mail unless you want to lug your own pc all over the place. Also an inconvenience if you want to check up on blogs or conference updates. The key point? The virtual 24/7 conference online is rocking, and will only get better over time.
I shouldn’t knock the conference because I’m just an “exhibits only” attendee and SES clearly has emerged as the key search conference. Also, Danny Sullivan is arguably the sharpest SEO observer in the world and based on comments by some presenters I know he treats his peeps well …
YET … it sure seems they have the same tired “Our SEO is the best ever” exhibitors and perhaps as many as 60+% of the same presenters show after show, most pretending they are better at or more helpful with PPC and organic optimization results than … a smart high school kid … which is not supported by much evidence I can see, especially on the organic side of SEO. I do hate to miss Matt Cutts comments and the Eric Schmidt interview but maybe I’ll bump into them at the party at Google tonight.
After going to 3 full Webmasterworld conferences, two SES as exhibits only, and one AD-TECH (where they more-nicely-than-SES allow exhibits people to attend the keynotes which are the best part of that conference), I think Webmasterworld offers the best insights and networking. One presenter who appeared at both told the WMW crowd he had to dumb down the presentation for SES. Perhaps he says the opposite here, but I think SES, at three times the price, is not even as valuable as a WMW conference for all but a handful of niches such as Vendors, who’ll do better at this venue because they are selling things rather than dispensing quality information. (Man there are a lot of SEO clueless salespeeps in SEO!)
Of course personal contacts are important, but I know I’ll find some people I know over at the Google Party later this evening.