Search Engine Strategies San Jose was a great show this year, as exhibitors and attendees increased by 30% from last year. There was a lot of excitement and plenty of things going on. The evening parties seemed a little disappointing, as both Yahoo and Ask provided some fantastic parties last year, but both opted for low-key invite only parties this year. (Both of which involved loud music in a small room)

There were many new session on the slate, and most of the session halls were packed out. Many were standing room only, which was great to see. Mostly though, it was exciting to see the many conversations taking place in the hallways and lobbies.

The first day was technically my day off, so I took my time recovering from the speaker party that took place on Sunday evening. After that, a group of us headed out to lunch at PF Chang’s, which was the only “chain” restaurant that was allowed.
Chris and jen lunch1
Jen, Chris, Scott (from AG Interactive) and Carrie (Carrie Mader Jewelry) at PF Chang’s.
I hit a few sessions, Searchonomics was one. I thought it would be a little better, but it seemed to be the usual rehash of how search is growing and will dominate other forms of media. Bill Tanser from Hitwise showed us the mountain of data that he gets to play with on a daily basis – nothing like a little show and tell to make you envious.

Finally, I made it to my session on Tuesday, Site Architecture. I enjoy being on this panel, as I believe that site architecture is the critical component of a good web marketing campaign. Architecture is the foundation, and it had to be solid to perform well. My presentation focuses on accessibility, as good accessibility allows for both search engines and assistive technology and will help accomplish many goals.

Danny with liederhosen Detlev and Heather
Danny Sullivan with his new liederhosen. Detlev and Heather looking on . . .

The Google dance was Tuesday evening, and it was very cool. Talking with the Google labs people was interesting, and the activities ranged from battlebots to dunk tanks. Of course, plenty of food, drinks and ice cream were on hand. This years shirt is probably my favorite, as everything was focused on Google Labs, the shirt was made to look like the period table of the elements, with Gl being the main element on the shirt.

Wednesday I was looking forward to giving a new session with Shari Thurow, SEO and Usability. Being a news session, there was a little nervousness, but it left as soon as I got up to speak. I was hesitant to use so many screen shots in my presentation, but it worked well and my new laptop was stellar! I have a gateway hybrid laptop/tablet which allows me to use a pen to mark-up slides – perfect for pointing out what is wrong with websites!

The session went really well, and the response from talking with people afterwards was fantastic. I think we really stuck a chord with people and helped out many others. The best comment is that someone had a list of things that they were going to do that night to improve their site – I like knowing that the information was practical.

Lee Odden After the session, Lee Odden mugged me into making a little testimonial video, where I unwittingly coined the phrase “wookiepedia”– thanks a ton, Lee.
That evening, many bloggers were invited to a dinner with in order to talk with them and the product managers. That was a great event, as we were able to get a handle on what is all about and what things were coming up. I’ve always liked, but like everyone else, Google seems to dominate the desktop. I am going to make a concerted effort to go back to using for a while, as the interface and the quality are outstanding.

Thursday morning – site clinic, which is always fun. Having to be quick on your feet and evaluate sites within minutes is always a fun challenge. No one got angry, so that’s a successful site clinic.

Thursday became one of the busiest days as Jennifer Laycock, from Search Engine Guide and me were able to go with John Marshall and visit the extravagant ClickTracks offices in Santa Cruz. We were able to get a peek at some of the new features in Pro 6.2, talk with CTO Stephen Turner, and give the ClickTracks sales force some “small” marketing ideas. Thanks for lunch, guys!

John and Stephen at ClickTracks Dangerous Wayne

John Marshall and Stephen Turner, ClickTracks Men of Genius. John’s “Dangerous Wayne” Visionary Award.
After that, Jennifer and I were back up to Mountain View to meet with Avinash Kaushik. Regular readers of this blog will recognize the name as one of the blogs that I link to often. If you are into analytics, then you have to read Avinash’s blog. The conversation with Avinash was amazing. We talked a little bit about analytics, but the bulk of the conversation hit so many different subjects; Ohio State v Michigan football, usability wagering, Google lifeguards, and million dollar “fixer-uppers” in Silicon Valley. Avinash is a very down-to-earth hilarious guy – time very well spent. Seeing what he is able to do with ClickTracks with Intuit’s data was a lesson in itself.

Avinash and Matt Intuit campus

Me & Avinash, The beautiful Intuit campus
Thursday night and time to come home. With the airline scare, our flights were backed up. For some reason, Jennifer and I decided to take the red-eye back to Ohio. Being delayed about 3 hours past our departure gave us a new appreciation for why people sleep at night. Sleeping while sitting up in an airplane was hard enough – the terminal was packed with cranky, miserable people who must not have slept either. Toting a pregnant Jennifer with a sprained foot through the airport can be exhausting. No pictures of that experience are allowed to be posted.

Of course, I can’t wait until next year . . .