SES San Jose round-up

I had a great time at my first(!) SES (Search Engine Strategies), in San Jose. The SIGIR/AIRWEB conflict meant that I only made it to days 1-3, and unfortunately didn’t get to do a panel I was looking forward to that was moved to Day 4.

The one panel I did (Duplicate Content) was fun – SEO experts (Anne Kennedy, Shari Thurow, and Mikkel deMib Svendsen) presenting actual content, and Matt Cutts and me kibitzing and taking questions at the end. The substantive content was great – well researched and spot-on about how the major engines deal with dupes. (Anne, Shari, Mikkel – are your slides posted anywhere that I could link to them?)

The Q&A got a little, um, contentious. OK, what I mean to say is that *I* got a little contentious. 🙂 (Sorry Mikkel.) The question was whether it’s OK from the engines’ point of view to produce lots of seemingly non-duplicative copies of the same content by randomly splicing in synonyms for words. My answer (and Matt’s) was no.

Highlights of the show for me:
o The stathead panels on market share
o The “Bot Obedience Course” (much more about what to do about “evil bots” (the kind that don’t respect robots.txt) than good bots), though Rajat had great info on Yahoo! Slurp
o All the activity around Google SiteMaps (now Google Webmaster Tools) and Yahoo! SiteExplorer.

Rated purely on the coffee-and-wifi scale, SES San Jose 2006 was a poor performance. Wi-Fi was available only in the lounge areas. And all day long, in the central hallway, there was a set of white-tablecloth tables, proudly displaying the empty stands into which urns of coffee were placed … for a half an hour or two in the morning. Long long lines for the take-out espresso bar in the hotel next door. There’s a lesson here for everyone.

1 thought on “SES San Jose round-up”

  1. I have mixed opinions on the wifi. On one hand, I was supremely annoyed at the lack of conference-room wifi at this conference (and, ironically, the previous two search-related conferences I’ve attended!) I have work to do… I need to stay in sync with stuff at the office, finish a last-minute project, etc.

    Then again, when *I* was up on the podium speaking at SES, would I have really appreciated people paying zero attention to me… handling work and personal tasks online and such? Probably not 😉

    It’s a similar argument to limiting wifi / Internet access in college classrooms. The key difference, however (and one which sways me) is that we’re all (literally) adults and should be able to make our own decisions. If the speakers are sufficiently un-captivating and our work is particularly urgent, well… there you have it. We all have to make choices. It’d be nice if we had the availability of wifi to facilitate such choices.

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