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Attending SES Toronto Could Change Your Life

Search Engine Strategies Toronto returns to Toronto June 9 – 11th.  The largest annual search engine marketing conference and trade show held in Canada, SES Toronto is a must-attend event in the Canadian online marketing community. It’s also an essential event for US and European SEMs who want to understand one of the most affluent but subtly unique markets in the world.

There are as many reasons to attend SES Toronto as there are actual attendees, thousands. By far, the best reason is dramatically simple. The experience could literally change your life. More on that thought later.

This is a particularly significant year in search and online marketing, one full of enormous disruption. The migrations to mobile devices, personalized and local search results, social media and video marketing are changing the ways online marketers work, think and plan. If don’t have SES Toronto on your calendar, this is a particularly good year to place it there.

Like all conferences, SES Toronto is about information and networking. Three days of training and skills sharing sessions are wrapped around a busy schedule of dinners, industry parties, drinks and enjoyment of one of the world’s most welcoming mega-cities.

Great Speakers

Speakers and sessions are updated regularly to reflect the evolution of the industry. This years line-up brings a cross section of the Canadian online marketing sector together with a number of American and international search marketeering experts.

The keynote speakers, author and information architect Peter Morville and Google senior engineer Maile Ohye are not only renown for their ideas, skills and contributions to search, they are both extremely nice people. Similarly, well known authors and search marketers Cindy Krum, Bryan Eisenberg, Laura Callow, Guillaume Bouchard, Ian McAnerin, Lee Odden and virtually all other speakers are also extremely nice people. One of the things that sets the search marketing sector apart from others is the sense of cooperativeness and openness within the industry. Take the chance to approach any of the speakers and chances are you’ll walk away with an earful of information and a new industry friend. Approach them in the evening and, for the price of a drink, you might find yourself learning more than you possibly expected.

More Filling

When thinking about learning at conference the size of SES, you need to sort your needs between three rich topical tracks. SES sessions are geared to all levels of knowledge and experience. An advanced session can prove as daunting for someone new to the industry as a basic session is boring to someone with a great deal of experience. You need to plan your time wisely to create a conference experience that best meets your business or knowledge goals. That usually means you’ll have to sacrifice one session for another taking place at the same time. Prioritization can be a nasty business sometimes but there are easy ways around the problem. For beginners and those who want to absorb the most information possible, take an extra day and pay the cost of one of the three training sessions taking place on June 9th.

Training Sessions

Three unique training tracks are scheduled for Wednesday June 9th. While each of these tracks cost extra, each presents critical information, especially to those needing to learn the basics of SEO, PPC or social media marketing. These sessions are separated into unique tracks, SEM, SEO and PPC.

One track is a full day of SEM workshops provided by well known search marketers Brad Geddes, Stoney deGeyter and Jennifer Laycock.

Brad Geddes, founder of bgTheory.com, is a long-time search and affiliate marketing consultant and author presents a workshop titled, Google AdWords Tactics to Improve Your ROI in the morning session.

In the afternoon, Stoney deGeyter and Jennifer Laycock conduct their workshop titled, SEO Building a Content Strategy to Maximize Your Search & Social Efforts. Stoney founded Pole Position Marketing in 1998 and has written hundreds of articles explaining SEO, SEM and social marketing. Jennifer is a social media consultant. Formerly the editor-in-chief of Search Engine Guide, Jennifer has written two books, including the popular Small Business Guide to Search Engine Marketing.

Another track brings the legendary Bruce Clay SEO Training Session to Toronto. Presented by Bruce Clay East managing director, Christopher Hart, this highly sought training session is mandatory for any client Bruce Clay Inc. takes on. If you or your business is considering search engine optimization but need a better understanding of SEO, this course will save you time and money.

The third training workshop with Andrew Goodman and Mona Elesseily is a full day covering the core concepts and knowledge needed to thrive in the Paid Search environment. From their offices in Toronto and Vancouver, Andrew and Mona have built one of the most successful Paid Search agencies in the world, Page Zero Media. Both have published industry defining books on Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing and both are considered the “expert’s experts” in the field of Paid Search.

Choosing one track over the others poses a difficult decision but, given the extraordinary amount of information to pack into three days, posing such choices is unavoidable for organizers.  A quick glance at the Agenda Overview shows why.

The agendas at SES conferences are divided into three or more topical tracks, with at least eight sessions devoted to each track throughout the two day show. Choosing which sessions to attend becomes quite difficult, especially for those focused on search engine optimization. Virtually every session has valuable information offered by amazing speakers. Unless one has a laser focus on one marketing channel over all others, there is no easy way to prioritize. There are however, a couple easy ways to get information from session you were unable to attend.

The first is to rely on the kindness of your peers, several of whom will be Tweeting, live-blogging and taking notes for future articles. Folks write about statements and announcements made at SES. Debates have even flared up in the digital world, away from the conference, while a speaker is still on the stage!

Another is to use the “buddy system” with coworkers or other attendees. If you can’t be at one session you very much wanted to attend, find someone who is attending and promise to share notes afterwards. If you’re attending with coworkers, divvy up the agenda based on personal interest and inform each other over supper. Conferences are not inexpensive undertakings so it’s up to you to get the most for your or your employer’s money.

Lastly and most importantly, make conversation with speakers and vendors. These people have come to the conference, often at their own expense, to share information, make new connections, and spend time with friends made at previous conventions. As a long time speaker and participant at SES conferences, I can personally attest that virtually every speaker is happy to spend a few minutes with people who are truly interested in the industry. Similarly, every booth on the tradeshow floor represents a business that might be somehow beneficial to your business.

SES Can Change Your Life

I can trace success in my career back to my first Search Engine Strategies Toronto conference six years ago, SES Toronto 04. Many of the people I met at that conference have become life-long friends. Some have become employers, others became business partners, and all continue to be personal mentors. My career entered a new space because of that experience. I’ve attended most North American SES shows since, each time walking away with far more than I came in with.

Attending that first SES Toronto did change my life. It made it better, albeit far busier and way more complicated. In a sense, attending SES was like buying a winning lottery ticket with one exception. Everyone who plays has a chance to win and to win big. From personal and professional experience, I urge you to take the chance and play.

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  3. Hey Jim, after the fact I wanted to say thanks for the awesome mention. SES Toronto was a blast! It was one of the best I've been to in ages, and certainly rocked Canada. Thanks for all your hard work making it the success it was, and it was great to see you! :) It was awesome to be on the ground in Canada to meet the 'new Matt Cutts' as I heard over and over [and with which I need to agree] – Maile Ohye. Thanks to SES for a great Canadian conference that spoke to advanced and newbie needs. What a total honour to have been part of it! ~ L

  4. Hey Jim, after the fact I wanted to say thanks for the awesome mention. SES Toronto was a blast! It was one of the best I've been to in ages, and certainly rocked Canada. Thanks for all your hard work making it the success it was, and it was great to see you! :) It was awesome to be on the ground in Canada to meet the 'new Matt Cutts' as I heard over and over [and with which I need to agree] – Maile Ohye. Thanks to SES for a great Canadian conference that spoke to advanced and newbie needs. What a total honour to have been part of it! ~ L