What’s Up With Search Engine Strategies in Chicago This Year?

Thinking of heading to Chicago for SES this year? The better informed you are, the easier you’ll be able to decide which sessions to attend. With 68 sessions, including three keynotes, 14 unique tracks, and 150 speakers, you’re spoiled for choice.

Each Search Engine Strategies conference tends to develop a leaning toward a particular theme. For the Chicago event, which takes place the week of Dec. 7, that includes real-time search and social media. Of course, evergreen sessions, which the conference was founded on, deal with bedrock elements of search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search.

So, to help you make informed decisions on what sessions/topics to attend, conference speakers will write a series of guest columns that take a closer look at some of the many sessions you have to choose from. This is the first column in that series.

As I’m responsible for working with the content team, I thought I’d start by pinpointing some of the newer sessions for the conference. There’s a real buzz going on about real-time search in the industry. You’ll see a lot of talk about Google and Microsoft buying into Twitter’s live data stream to mine it. But there’s actually a lot of other work going in search where real time is the essence.

Search: A Real Time Paradigm?,” a brand new panel session, takes a peek into the future and where real-time search fits right now. Three speakers will demonstrate how their technologies can monitor the conversation in social networks.

Consider Sound Index for the BBC in the U.K. It monitors sites such as Facebook and MySpace and music download sites such as iTunes. In real time, it ranks the top artists, tracks, and albums as is genuinely decided by the people.

Then, there’s TwitterJobSearch, which has developed technology that constantly monitors the Twitter stream of data, filters out noise, and cherry picks Tweets that are about jobs. As far as I’m aware, this is the first real-time job/recruitment service online finding jobs as diverse as a chef wanted at a restaurant in Phoenix to a construction worker in Hong Kong.

And there’s the element of human powered real-time search with Aardvark.

Another presentation will address how a social search engine taps into the wisdom of crowds. Again, it’s all about listening to the voice of the end user. Simply ask a question and it will be distributed around the community you hang with. Technology then takes over and the most relevant answers to your questions are returned.

Expect a huge number of these types of social search engines and services to emerge in the near future. As marketers we need to know where search is going and this is certainly one area to keep a very watchful eye on.

Another new session, “From Search To Discovery,” looks at social networks and discusses the huge transition from people having to search for content to now discovering it instead. First we’ll hear about how long-time SEO experts are becoming aware of the “abundance problem” of too much search data to deal with. We’re drowning in data, so how about just getting to see the stuff we need? Discovery is all about things that exist that are related to information needs but you weren’t aware of them. It’s almost like talking about technology serendipity.

For instance, you’ll see a demonstration of how connected television is coming together and how we’ll begin to receive programming from various sources including the Internet. And this is not just putting Web sites on your TV (that sucks!). This is TV on demand via an iPlayer. With all of this new TV content, how will you find anything? You won’t be typing words into a search box when you have a TV remote in your hand.

Multimodal sources of data will offer consumers a huge range of appropriate and relevant content that goes beyond “the recommendation engine.” And imagine this for marketers: these concepts can actually be used to enhance TV program-making so that the content itself can be dynamically tuned to the audience based on the audience’s response to it.

Yep, it’s search, but not as we know it!

So you may be thinking: “All well and good, Mike. But it’s way over my head. I’m brand new to this and I really need to learn from the ground up.”

Glad you mentioned it.

My friend and Internet marketing stalwart Ralph Wilson will present the ever popular “Introduction To Search Engine Marketing.” Ralph has been a small business champion and marketing educator for as long as the Web has been interesting. And he knows a thing or two about search. He’s been using and analyzing search engines for many a long year.

So, if you’re overwhelmed by the technology and the jargon, fear not, this one session will set you up with the basics to launch you deeper into the conference and further into online profitability.

Maybe the Windy City is just what you need to blow away the cobwebs and send you sailing into marketing success in a brand new decade.

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