Last year I attended SES Xiamen and reading back the articles I wrote back then they still stand for a big part, especially the one called Chinese lessons.
This year’s conference was held in a hazy Nanjing, 2.5 hours by fast train from Shanghai, and organized by Timev and SMX.There were three conferences going on at the same time in the new Nanjing Expo Centre.
There was the Software expo, the China Internet Conference 2008 and on the third floor SMX Nanjing had found it’s home.
I had the impression there were not as many attendees as in Xiamen but altogether the sessions were full of young and eager to learn men and women. More men than women. 99.9 percent of the crowd was Chinese as it should be. The speakers were a mixture of East and West.
The sessions were evenly spread between Organic and PPC. One room focused more on organic, introducing tools (Google and SEOmoz), Link Building (External and Internal) and site clinics. The other room was more about PPC including interesting case studies on reputation management in China.
Like last year in Xiamen the speakers were a mix of foreign and Chinese. The majority of the sessions were mostly on a beginner’s level. The search marketing field is still nascent and not too much seems to have changed since last year.
An overview of a couple of sessions I attended.
Jianfei Zhu, lead engineer of the Chinese Google spam team, introduced the Google tools to the audience. It was pretty much a promotion of what Google has available for webmasters, ranging from Webmastercentral to Analytics. Even feedburner was mentioned but I wouldn’t recommend anyone to use that if they’re targeting the Chinese audience as the feeds are blocked.
For reference the links if you like to use these tools in Chinese.
Also speaking was Gillian Muessig, president of SEOmoz who introduced the audience to the SEOmoz tools.
Keyword Research and Successful Copywriting
Stephen Noton from Adverted, who’s currently working in Alibaba as a SEO consultant, did a very thorough overview of tools to do keyword research, ranging from KeywordDiscovery, his favorite to Adcenter’s Demographics Prediction using Baidu as an example.
His presentation is in Chinese and can be downloaded here.
Micah Fisher-Kirshner from Red Bricks Media gave an advanced presentation that went into the purpose of the Motive Analysis, which aims to “Increase the conversion performance of an entry page by studying the motive of a visitor” and “Understand the motive themes that result in the highest conversion in order to improve the search engine ranking of those terms.”
Here’s a screenshot of the 10 motives of search that were presented.
If you like to learn more I suggest you to contact Micah at his Demerzel’s China blog.
At the end there was a Q&A where the question was raised about the accuracy of the Keyword tools. Stephen suggested to use Keyworddiscovery for, well, discovery and mentioned that the Google Keyword tool, when selecting all countries and all languages was 95% accurate.
Another session I attended was a SEM Case Study on Reputation Management and Financing. Especially the one from Darwin Marketing getting into helping a brand to save their online reputation in a Chinese online environment was educational. I hope that I can share a link to their presentation later on.
The Search Engines
The only visible search engines attending were Google and Microsoft. Baidu, like last year, was unfortunately not active during the conference nor was Yahoo this time. It seems that Baidu, China’s biggest search engine, is not too keen in mingling with search marketeers yet. Let’s hope that in the future they start to realize that taking part in conferences is a good thing.
The conference was well organized. It took place, as mentioned in the brand new Nanjing expo center. It was a bit hard to get food and as it was far away from the centre the second day most people I spoke to had made sure they had eaten a lot during breakfast to make it till dinner.
The simultaneous translations, English/Chinese, were a lot better than last time which made it easier to understand the sessions. This is really important as well for the Chinese to understand the English speakers and vice versa.
There were unfortunately no parties, at least not that I was aware of. I hope there will be in future events as these are great opportunities to get to know people outside of the sessions.
As mentioned before, most sessions were still focused on the beginner. I don’t see that changing soon as the industry itself is still young and the concept of optimizing websites still has to get more foothold.
The exhibitors booths were limited, not more than a couple. It was interesting to see that one of them was a UK search company, Tamar, that opened it’s Chinese branch in the beginning of this year. As many Chinese seo/ppc companies are mostly small to very small, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more foreign search marketing companies moving in and getting their feet wet in the market here.
I’m looking forward to SMX Xiamen, on March 20-21, 2009, to see how things have developed.