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.