Search: Conference preview - Learning the ropes

Search Engine Strategies 2006 will provide a forum to help delegates improve their understanding of the industry.

Search Engine Strategies, the gathering of the world's foremost authorities on search-engine marketing and optimisation, is coming to the UK this May.

Held at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London, the conference will cover every aspect of search, from search-engine optimisation and paid-search campaigns to the development of audio and video opportunities as web content's role grows in importance.

The conference is intended to provide layman and expert alike with a one-stop information resource on search-engine marketing from the perspective of top search experts and the major engines.

The fact that search marketing is becoming a de facto advertising medium for many brands, coupled with the attendance of big industry players including Google, Yahoo! Search Marketing Europe, MSN and Ask, will make this one of the key interactive events of 2006.

The London event follows last month's conference in New York, where the key topics for discussion included click fraud, the role search plays within the wider marketing mix, vertical search and privacy issues.

The New York conference saw Barry Diller, chairman and chief executive of InterActive Corporation (IAC), unveil the new-look Ask search engine without the Jeeves butler brand character, which has been retired. In his keynote speech, he suggested search would become the 'glue' of all interactive media, with its influence stretching far beyond the web.

Global impact

Discussions at the New York summit revolved around the use of mapping technology, with the rise of Google Earth and Microsoft's expected decision to incorporate mapping in its forthcoming Live! Local service.

The comparison of search marketing with TV was another theme, with the medium's rapid development and take-up of sector-specific search likened to the early days of cable TV in the US.

With the media spotlight firmly on search in the US following the government's demand that Google share its user data, privacy was at the fore of most discussions, the consensus being that engines will not give in to the administration's demands without a fight. However, this is expected to be challenged on a case-by-case basis and is a contentious issue that the industry is now trying to put to bed once and for all.

Mirroring its New York counterpart, the conference programme for London comprises presentations and panel discussions spanning the medium, with focal points being marketing, content and community. These include: an introduction to search marketing; how to generate perfect paid listings; local search marketing techniques; how RSS and blogs fit into search; click fraud issues; demographic and behavioural targeting; public relations via search; and video and podcast search.

The diversity of the programme is an indication of how broad search has become and how it now affects every aspect of business.

The event has been designed to act as a crash-course in search to attract a diverse range of delegates. The conference sessions have been divided by the organiser, Incisive Media, into three strands, enabling delegates to choose sessions according to their knowledge or needs.

On day one, the three strands are fundamental issues, advanced and targeting Europe; on day two, they are fundamental issues, search advertising and vertical search issues; and on the final day, the strands are organic and legal, advertising and tactics and improvements.

The agenda promises to educate the beginner, with sessions on the basics including: how search engines list websites for free and through paid placements; how to get free organic traffic by building a site that pleases search engines and visitors; how to efficiently purchase listings guaranteed to achieve top search-engine results rankings; how to build links that generate site traffic; how to calculate the ROI of search marketing efforts, by tracking site visitors from the time they hit a site until they buy; how to avoid the penalties of 'spamming' search engines; and what's coming next in web search and how to profit from it.

Speakers for the London event have not yet been announced, but with search expanding beyond the web, across mobile and even to pay-TV, the conference will be a unique opportunity to gain an insight into the future. At the same time, the past masters of search will share their experiences - both positive and negative - with delegates.

SEARCH ENGINE STRATEGIES Date: 31 May-2 June Venue: Business Design Centre, Islington, London Speakers: To be announced Web: www.searchenginestrategies.com

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