SES Paris

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Last week I had the pleasure of attending, and presenting at SES Paris. It was held on January 15, 16, 2008, and somewhere in excess of 200 people were there.

The conference was broken into two tracks, and with one exception - Search Around the World, everything was done in French. I had the honor of being the only presenter for the Click Fraud & Campaign Audit Session. 1:15 minutes of presentation, and Q&A, all in French. That was fun, and I’ll admit I was nervous, but people told me they learned at lot.

This conference was very different from most of the other search conferences I’ve participated in, as in every session, the Q&A periods were much more active than usual. There was no shortage of audience participation. I think almost every session ran late due to overwhelming response in the Q&A. I’d say from a participants perspective, SES Paris was very successful. I don’t have firsthand knowledge of previous SES Paris shows, so I can’t compare them beyond mentioning that attendees who had been there in previous years said this one was a step up.

I also moderated four other sessions. They were a lot of fun. Here’s a quick summary of all the sessions. First off, day 1:

1) Optimiser son site pour les moteurs de recherche

This is the standard SES Fundamentals track session on how to optimize a web site. There were four presenters Maxime Grandchamp from Trellian Europe, Rodrigo Sepulveda Schulz from, Didier Durand from Publicitas, and David Cohen from CVFM. Their various presentations were strong and to the point. Lots of good questions, it went off smoothly.

2) Meandres de la Recherche Universelle

The universal search panel. I was particularly interested in this one as I’d presented on the topic at SES Chicago and SES San Jose in 2007. This time out it was a European perspective on the subject. The presenters were Jean Veronis, a professor from Universite Aix-Marseille, Philippe Yonnet from @position, and Sebastien Billard from Relevant Traffic. Jean Veronis’s presentation about the history of search leading up to Universal Search was interesting, and his slides on what he thought Universal Search results should look like unique. Philippe & Sebastien’s presentations were more about the implication of Universal Search for SEM’s. I threw in a couple of slides at the end which showed some additional data. I’m going to use that info in a post at another blog this week. It’s been sitting in the can for 2 weeks, and I’m way behind in posting there. The Q&A was solid.

3) Clinique - “Optimisation de site web”

The always entertaining site clinic. This was a blast. We had David Degrelle from SEMPO & 1e Position, Walid Elias Kai from Google-Kai, and Yann Lemort from Pole Positioning. A lot of times in site clinics people are shy about having their site critiqued. Sometimes we even ask people to put up a competitor’s site so that they can get insights, and observe some opportunities. Not here. No one was shy. (this seemed to be quite standard in Paris, no one was shy!). We had people putting up sites they had built, new clients, problem clients. It was great, and I think people learned a heck of a lot.

On Day 2 of the conference I did the Click Fraud session, and moderated one other;

4) Click Fraud - clics frauduleux.

This was fun! I was the only speaker on click fraud (and the moderator). I tried to give a very balanced view on the issue, and recounted data that’s been publicly used at conferences and in discussions, as well as information we’ve discovered in our analysis. Then I focused on auditing your PPC campaigns, and ways to minimize your exposure to click fraud. I think this is an important point. Google and Yahoo! overwhelmingly represent the majority of the PPC marketplace. They offer great tools which allow you to minimize your exposure to Click Fraud, by really tightening down your campaign parameters. Unfortunately, most people don’t take advantage of these tools. I did quote from Andy Beal’s article from Click Fraud last year, using this chart to explain Google’s view of how prevalent Click Fraud is, and how it overlaps with invalid clicks;

Google Click Fraud Chart

To add a little humor to a topic which is both serious, and dry, I mentioned that this chart looks oddly similar to another image in common culture which is doubtlessly recognized by many of us. Ironically, this comparison brings a whole new perspective to “do no evil.” Certainly an unwitting comparison.

5) Strategies d’echanges de liens en 2008

Linking strategies. I had the always entertaining David Degrelle on this panel again, along with David Durand-Pichard an independent blogger, and Aurelien Bardon from Atregos, Of course some of the discussion dealt with the paid links update from last year. There’s still a lot of confusion on that, and and many people commented on how they got whacked and don’t sell or buy links. Of course, bugs are being worked out, but some people are still getting hurt. Good info on link-baiting, and David Degrelle tood a picture from the stage which he said he’ll blog about to get link bait from the audience. Similar questions to the ones we get in the U.S., but in my discussions with participants it appears that simpler techniques still work well, as the markets smaller, and not quite as competitive. I found this interesting, as it presents an opportunity as well.

This last session ended the conference for me.

Outside of the sessions, participant feedback and general observations, I enoountered quite a few people making negative comments about Google. I was surprised, but also found them interesting. On the one hand the French love Google. Our own data shows the Google’s marketshare there dwarfs shares in many other markets. All the marketers in the sessions just seem to use Google, and Google’s tools for research; in fact, they don’t really seem to use the other engines’ tools, or at least they didn’t mention them. For link analysis in particular I found this quite surprising, but I understand that each market is different, and habits are habits.  Quite strange.  I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.  The people supported Google, use Google, yet also somehow resent it.

In summary, was SES Paris worth it? If you wanted to learn a lot about SEO & PPC strategies, management and issues, definitely.

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