Search Engine Strategies from the cheap seats

Don't hate the playa, hate the game.

Don't hate the playa, hate the game.

I started the unemployment blog Jobless and Less to get back in the habit of writing everyday, improve my marketing skills and stay off the streets. My thinking was (and is) that beefing up the resume with relevant skills could only help in the job search. Months later I’m still unemployed and finding companies to be a tad unreceptive – hopefully a product of the local job market and not my resume. Otherwise, things are moving along quite swimmingly. I’ve gone from semi-illiterate neighborhood tough to erudite man about town. I even managed to understand my first New Yorker cartoon, though it still wasn’t funny. And I’m fast learning the ins and outs of the crazy world of online marketing.

Last week was Search Engine Strategies New York (SESNY), one of the major search marketing conferences and an important learning and networking opportunity. I attended with open ears and an open mind and walked away with a notebook full of helpful information. This week I launched a nationwide search for someone to implement all my notes while I watch South Park DVDs.

The conference started with notable industry expert and personality Guy Kawasaki‘s keynote presentation about the social media tool Twitter. For those not familiar, Twitter is essentially the status field from Facebook, divorced from all the addictive games and inane questionnaires. Users “follow” (Twitter-ese for a one-way connection between users) and attract followers with whom they communicate through short messages (limited to 140 characters) called tweets. Some of the exchanged info is useful, and some of it’s just babble… kind of like everything else in life. Here’s the Jobless and Less Twitter page for you curious types.

Being a Twitter newbie, I learned tons from Guy. Apparently – and this shouldn’t be surprising – there are many tools to automate (abuse?) elements of Twitter. SocialToo, for example, will automatically follow anyone who follows you. (If only the police had a real-life version they could use on stalkers and paparazzi…) Power users and aspirants no longer have to click through countless “Joe Schmo is now following your updates…” emails to return the favor. They just set up this service and let it run. Other sites provide similarly useful functionality, though Twitter purists see such gaming of the system as detrimental to the micro-blogging community. They have a valid point.

Perhaps the most meta moment of my life to date occurred during this presentation. As Guy presented juicy tidbits on how to game Twitter, people in the audience tweeted about it. He pulled up those tweets on Twitter a few moments later and highlighted them for the audience on the big screen. His new comments were tweeted again. A great vortex then formed and actually sucked a third of the audience into the Internet, where they now live a Tron-like existence. For your reading pleasure, I will attempt to condense the whole occurrence into one sentence, without getting sucked in myself. Please don’t try this at home; I am a trained professional. (If I don’t survive, please tell wifey I love her.) Here we go…

In a session about Twitter, audience members tweeted Guy Kawasaki’s comments about Twitter with their own comments, which he then found on Twitter and commented on to the audience, leading some to tweet about those.

Wow, I think I just tore a hole in my cerebral cortex with that stunt. What’s my name again? Where do I work?

SESNY covered a wide breadth of other search marketing topics. A panel called “Meaningful SEO Metrics: Going Beyond the Numbers” immediately followed the keynote and featured the crazy-looking Ray “Catfish” Comstock of Business OnLine. This guy really knew his stuff, and seemed to bubble over with useful tips from the Search trenches. I couldn’t take notes fast enough. Site Logic‘s Matthew Bailey was also quite enlightening in his presentation “Advanced SEO Strategies: Integrating Analytics, Usability, Persuasion, & Journalism,” though after my last stunt I lack the brainpower to explain exactly how. Just take my word for it; he was good. Other sessions were generally useful, though some more than others.

The exhibition floor was very hit or miss, as they tend to be at conferences. A lot of small companies advertised and offered services that were indistinguishable from each other. They may have been different, I just couldn’t tell from the booths. One thing is for sure, many companies at SESNY don’t know much about graphic design; some of the signage was just brutal. I guess expertise in one area of marketing doesn’t guarantee expertise, or even a working knowledge, in another. Still, I managed to have a few meaningful conversations – the folks at Google were very helpful – and leave behind a few business cards. Quality is always better than quantity in these situations. We’ll see if anything surfaces.

One pleasant surprise from SESNY was just how much I knew already – that progress I mentioned at the outset. Months of reading and slaving over Jobless and Less are starting to pay off. Whether this elevates my unemployment blog into the Search stratosphere or leads to gainful employment remains to be seen. For now a little progress is reward enough. Tomorrow I may not be so positive about my situation.

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  1. cwcomment wrote:

    This is great! You’re using the power of small- every little step you take to improve your resume. Every new network site you use, conference and networking event is a new connection, new business card closer to a new job. Good luck!

    Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 1:48 pm | Permalink
  2. Bridget wrote:

    I’ve read the 5th paragraph 20 times and I still can’t believe it. Twitter has just exploded in 2009. Let’s get together for an unemployed business lunch soon… and tweet the entire thing.

    Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 4:11 pm | Permalink
  3. Norm wrote:

    Seriously, it was pretty amazing. Lunch one of these days would definitely be cool. McDonalds has a pretty good selection on their dollar menu.

    Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 5:53 pm | Permalink
  4. That 5th paragraph is hysterical, and such an accurate description of Twitter, I can actually visualize the audience being sucked in to the internet. I think they warped into caricature avatars.

    I was wondering how you afforded to go since all online marketing/ecommerce conferences are always $1000+. Press pass… damn, I should’ve thought of that.

    Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 7:25 am | Permalink
  5. Catfish wrote:

    Glad you liked the presentation. Guess I am a little crazy

    Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 5:35 pm | Permalink
  6. Matt Bailey wrote:


    Thanks for the mention! I am very glad you enjoyed the Advanced SEO session – we had a laugh at the comment about not being able to explain why.

    Thank you very much! I owe you a drink next time I am in NYC.

    Monday, April 6, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

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