Before I dive into this I just want to say that 3 years ago last August I went to my first ever SES conference in San Jose, California and it really changed my life. I met so many amazing people and learned so much from it. Also in the last year I have spoken at 3 different SES events and have had a blast doing it. But it should also be noted that until I started speaking 1 year ago I have always paid for full conference pass(es) to the tune of just under 20,000$ from SES alone in the last 3 years (at some shows I took up to 4 people). So I have supported it financially as well as talked about it a lot on my radio show and blog.

With that said… lately I have been disappointed with them.

First they let Danny Sullivan walk (I think this December Chicago SES is his last event for SES ? ). Danny’s words:

I’m leaving Search Engine Watch as of December 1, given that its owner Incisive Media and I have been unable to agree on terms to renew my contract. I’m also leaving the Search Engine Strategies conference series at the end of this year.

So that was disappointing but… shit happens. Sometimes it just does not work out. Lets move on.

2 months ago Incisive Media announced its “Advisory Board” for the Search Engine Strategies conference. As you can see on the page the group of “Advisors” for the conference are lots of Vice Presidents, Senior Vice Presidents and all kinds of fluffyfock upper management titles from huge companies. I do not recognize anyone who ACTUALLY DOES SEARCH. All I see are the exact type of people that used to make me want to jump off a ledge at my 9-5 corporate job. How in the hell are these people the “advisors” to select speakers and stuff that people want to see?

Ok last thing. As you all know this year’s Pubcon and Search Engine Strategies are on the same dates. I was slated at first to attend SES but then after learning they are no longer compensating speakers like they have been in the past it made a super easy decision for me.

All these things combined just really leave me wondering what direction Search Engine Strategies is going. I do not see myself being a part of it in the future if they continue on this course. What do I matter though 😉 Just a stupid bloggers opinion.

By Jeremy Schoemaker

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of ShoeMoney Media Group, and to date has sold 6 companies and done over 10 million in affiliate revenue. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 International Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. You can read more about Jeremy on his wikipedia page here.

78 thoughts on “Search Engines Strategies – You Are Losing Me”
  1. I have never been to those two shows, BUT

    Its seems everything always starts off great , then grows into something fantastic and before you know it the suits take it over and it all starts to suck,

    I have seen this a lot in my industry ( swimming pools ) , with dealers, trade shows and so on,

    Sux when this happens.

    You need to start the “shoemoney media show”

    I bet you could draw a bigger crowd 🙂

  2. Did you ever find out anything useful at these conferences ? I’ve never been to one, nor do I intend to

  3. Are you serious? =P

    I think it depends on the kind of person you are. For me just being around people in the industry gets me thinking about new ideas.

    I have made millions directly from what ideas came about during conferences.

  4. They give out tons of great information you can’t find anywhere on the web. You also get to meet a lot of other webmasters there, if you become friends you can always ask for a favor here and there to link to pimp your site or give you a nice deal under the table.

  5. Another great point Gary-

    Having someone you can call their cell phone inside a company like Google when your adsense check doesnt come or whatever is priceless 😉

  6. I would love to go to a decent conferance. I recently got a free ticket mailed to me from for an Internet marketing conferance, don’t know how they got my address or whatever. They say they’re a leading solution since 1995… I didn’t end up going but they also called by the day before and on the day to remind be so I figured they couldn’t be that ambitiously overwhealmed with attending marketers given the anxiety to get my free ass to go.

    Ever heard any credentials about or know anything about them Shoe;

  7. Whenever they think they can increase the profit, they do it. It’s a common strategy to start being nice and friendly and then when the brand is established, to increase the profit share even at the cost of perceived “cool factor”. Anyway,I think in the US you can’t really complain because for sure there are many more events, imagine this happening to a small country where that would be the only search related event of the year!

  8. Now that money is becoming a serious option with Search engine strategies – of course it will attract the political office wallahs.

  9. They’re evolving. Like you say – shit happens. Just because a suit happens to be calling the shots doesn’t mean the shots are bad. They just have a tendancy to miss the mark when it comes to low level technical issues, and often find the fact that they are heavily dependant on people like yourself easier to ignore than fund.

    The solution is simple. For all their warbling and coat flapping, they amount to zero if they dont get results. And without the right people, they just cant. In SEO, it’ll show like shit on the washroom floor.

    It all comes down to the results they want and the audience being targetted at SES. They look through their lenses, you look through yours.

    Every now and again tho – you’ll find one of those rare gems.. a suit that knows. THATS when life gets interesting and you finally have a reason to get out of bed 😉

  10. This comment makes no sense as it relates to the post. I hate reading this nonsense in the comments. This post wasn’t about Google – it’s about SES screwing up their speaker series, turning it from a valuable resource into a corporate big wig back-patting competition. I’m all for going where the actual SEOs are – not where VPs are pulling in whoever they can get cheap to make the conference more profitable.

  11. Maybe the Search Engine conferences are on their way out and will simply become part of larger conferences. At my job we picked our own conferences and none of us selected a search specific conference. I think this is because we are on top of the industry, or at least we think we are. I chose Ad:Tech and another guy picked Wizards of Web. Both include search topics, but are part of broader ideas.
    SEO and SEM were once small fields, but have now become so mainstream that they are simply a part of other areas like Marketing, design, etc.

  12. What directio an organization takes depends on the owner or the man, and somtimes they may screw things up especially when the inflated egos come in between.


  13. Its not surprising to hear that another coporate takeover has ruined a good product. Having unrelated people on the advisory board is so typical for big wigs. SES is surely on the downward slide.

  14. That sounds just like the company I work for. Lots of high level people that like to surround themselves with “thought partners”, but don’t know how to do anything.

  15. I know this has nothing to do with the theme of the suits coming in. But I am surprised that there are people who believe that there is nothing to learn at these conferences. I recently attended the search camp in Chennai India and it is incredible how much you can learn in 2 days, just y listening to other people.

  16. sadly this is what always happen to the good things.
    at one point people get greedy so they prefer having big names more than people who really know stuff. without about all the “favors” that at that point big companies can make you in exchange of a name in the board…

  17. What happens in many businesses is also gonna happen with the web, whether it be search engine stuff, affiliate marketing stuff, etc. I have been torn about getting a 9 to 5 job again to have steady income but just don’t know if I can go back to the corporate grind where it seems that a$$holes are always at the top, and if not then eventually they migrate there or get put there by management.

  18. I’ve been to a few SES and half a dozen Pubcons now. I get more tangibles out of Pubcon but I get ideas and inspiration out of both. My biggest gains came after SES San Jose 2004 which ironically I think is the same one Shoe has talked about. SES is going down for me because it’s gotten too corporate. It may do fine for those companies that are clueless. Pubcon is growing and filling in the corp/non-corp mix. But they too are going more corporate, on their way to what SES used to be. Now we have to find the next up and coming conference before it turns. Like a caterpillar becomes a butterfly and eventually dies.

  19. I just don’t understand how you paid close to $20K for each conference. When SES comes to Toronto, it’s under $2K. Is it a bigger conference in the states?

  20. Hmm I’d love to go to one of those, and CES and E3 and blizzcon and ….. jesus I need to hurry up and get going lol!

  21. When you pay $20,000 for for a conference you better make sure and bring your coffee/red bull to make sure you do not miss a single minute!

  22. That is what is the best on those conferences but also you can do it virtually (more difficult but not impossible)

  23. I have actually never met a SEO’er in real life. I learned everything I know from reading online, testing the theories proposed in forums and making my own conclusions based on my test results.

    On the other hand: It could be nice to feel I am part of a community and talk with some of you guys over a beer or something.

  24. I’ll be happy to see you & Danny create a new show. “No Suits – Just Results” Say good night SES, if rockstars like Shoe & Danny are walking, it’s only a matter of time before other big names follow suit (pun intended? not sure- get back to me on that one). This crowd of experts is created from the inside, not from some corporate board…that Business .5 thinking is going to hurrrrt.

  25. Yea.. the SES started to be a place where most of the people are corporate people, 9 to 5ers… that use this as an excuse to get out of the office… I think ses is good for the newbies… maybe that is the reason why you liked it few years ago… because you were one 😉

  26. @SeanIM, well, I did strip on-stage out of my suit at our first Search Marketing Expo conference back in June 🙂

    1. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied
      on the video to make your point. You obviously
      know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when
      you could be giving us something informative to read?

  27. I think there is room for only two major conferences a year, PubCon and now SMX.

    I will guess that SES will die a rapid death.

  28. I was at SES in San Jose this year and felt it was an “OK” conference. It’s no Microsoft TechEd where you feel the energy in the crowd and gorge on junk food and party like a rockstar for a week straight, but it was “OK”.

    It seems as though several peopl in the industry feel like you though…

  29. All this talk about SES being irrelevant is funny and shows the bias on this blog. SES is a world wide event and judging by the speakers, it’s doing very well – Kevin Ryan, Seth Godin etc. Plus the topics covered range from the tactical to strategic and beyond – not to mention the great network opportunities to gain new business and contacts. It is silly enough compare one expo to another – they all have their pros and cons – but it’s down right dumb to ignore or put down one of the biggest ones just because of a personal gripe.

  30. Ya I think Shoe should do his own conference s well. If you know what your doing, they why not right?

  31. LOL Danny! I’m going to have to bug Daron as to why I didn’t get a private clip of that…I have p2p networks that need seeing to my male dating portal… 🙂

  32. I have the same problem….It would be nice to know I could make my mortgage every month but going back to a corporate life would be a culture shock

  33. I think in North America SES is losing its “street appeal” because many of the industry leaders are not participating in it. They are voting with their feet.

  34. One other thing, having SES around will keep SMX and Pubcon improving. Is SES the MSN / Live of conferences?

  35. Wow, so you profit from information other people give away freely? Shoot, I need to visit one of these conferences :).

  36. I totally agree with that, Jeremy. We can probably directly put $20 – $30M in sales to SES.

  37. Marketing and design firms continue to screw this up pretty bad, though. They may be included in the concepts, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the right people to teach it or do the work.

  38. It’s about that in the states as well, but when you take several people, add in hotel for all 4 days of each conference times 3 conferences per year, plane tickets, meals, etc. – I always plan on spending $1200 for the ones I speak at, and that’s one person with getting free airline tickets from AmEx and not paying for the conference itself.

  39. I think Elite Retreat is at best on hold, but may have been totally phased out. It’s a lot of work doing a conference, and even more to do a small conference.

  40. I was hoping to attend both Pubcon and Search Engine Strategies and was very disappointed to hear they conflicted

  41. Shoe – this post is so on the money. No pun intended. SES has been largely worthless and your comment on the advisory board is spot on. How many of these people even know what a 301 is?

    Pub Con is a better place to pick up useful information from the crowd anyway. Plus, Vegas vs. Chicago? No contest.

  42. fluffyfock upper management titles…. you nailed it Shoe… Really enjoyed the post and glad to see SOMEone is bringing this up. I’ve never spoke at a conference but from what I just read, they’re f*cked for the future. Letting Danny go was a poor start to their future. I’m sure you’re not the only one feel’n it, just glad to see you are spreading the word. Best of luck to you in the future!

    Frank (fctoma)

  43. While in business for over 10 years, it’s SES that brought my business to another level. If it had not been for Danny Sullivan, Chris Sherman, Greg Boser, and many, many others I would not have built Bizresearch to be what it is today. So, is SES in a state of change? Yes, but it will likely recover and serve a different audience. Perhaps it will be smaller, but it has always been a very educational conference. On the speaker gigs, yes, I’m one for compensation. Some of us receive more than free conference passes, but the that is often subjective and based on the topic, the time, and request and investment put into the research behind the presentation. So, while I’m asked to be at PubCon this year, I’ve also been asked to speak at SES Chicago. I will be at Pubcon without a doubt. But I’m sure we’ll be at SES next year in some form someway.

  44. I’ve been to 3 SES shows and after the first one I didn’t seem to get much out of them. They always say “Updated Content, new for San Jose!”, but a lot of it were the same powerpoints from the last one. Anyone have any good recommendations for another show to go to? The new Danny Sullivan one worth checking out?

  45. Oh-oh. If Jeremy stops going to conferences some of us might have to go ourselves in order to find out what they’re about.

  46. I have to agree. I dont get much out of SES conferences. But my dog does like the Did It marketing frog as a chew toy

  47. […] wrote a long time ago about how they were losing me and and was surprised at how many people had the exact same […]

  48. […] wrote a long time ago about how they were losing me and and was surprised at how many people had the exact same […]

  49. […] wrote a long time ago about how they were losing me and and was surprised at how many people had the exact same […]

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