Monthly Archives: October 2007

Informal Press Meet at Search Camp event

As part of the advisory board of Search Camp, I was asked by the organizers to interact with Press. The actual meeting was quite informal and was held in the canteen of Tidel park on 6th October at 11.30 am. Vikram from Efficient Frontier, myself, Mr C R Venkatesh from Dot com Infoway, and a few members of knowledge foundation were to interact with people from Press.

S Shyamala from Financial Express, Judy Franko from exchange 4 Media and Vankatachari Jagannathan from Domain-b were part of the press team. After a brief introduction of other such events organized by Knowledge Foundation the questions from press people (and even from some members from Knowledge foundation) was basically to explain the SEO / SEM and other such jargons. Ezhil Raja started off by explaining why Search Marketing industry is important and hence the importance of conducting such a seminar.

Vikram talked about Pay per click and gave a few estimations of the industry size. The members of Press were pretty interested in knowing our views on the future of advertising. I told that US is basically the benchmark to see global trends in advertising. I gave example of Google offering Print, Television and Radio ads to its clients in US. Online being a ROI driven medium it would offer additional pressure on the offline model to show performance. Since there was no Wifi at the café, we were finding it difficult to explain difference between organic and paid search results in Google. Luckily I had a presentation in my laptop about this and we showed it to the members of press.

In terms of challenges facing the industry, I said that that there is a serious lack of talent in the industry and not many students are aware that Search Marketing is a very bright career option.

S Shyamala was quite interested in knowing why The Hindu shows up for most search results in South India. I told her that it might be because they have invested in SEO. I follow the Indian Express website (I love reading news on this website) and hence told her that the new Content management System which Indian Express has migrated to seems to be more SEO friendly and maybe they will also see some good rankings. She was more interested in knowing about Search Engine Optimization and how it works.

Conversation then shifted to Click Fraud and how it affects our industry. We had few light moments during this discussion as Mr V Jagannathan seemed to be quite interested in how one makes money from Click Fraud. We teased him a bit about this. Its good that the press is aware of Click Fraud because we need their help in fighting this menace.

At this point we concluded our meet and left for the next session at Search Camp.

Review of the first Search Camp event in Chennai, India.

The Knowledge foundation India (a non profit organization) has to be congratulated for organizing a very successful Search Camp event. It’s really great to see Search Marketing events happen in India. Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has conducted some really great Search Marketing events in few major cities of India (in last two to three years). SEMPO also (under Vivek Bhargav and Gulrez of Communicate 2) has started Search Wednesday Mixers. However the SEMPO event happens only in Mumbai (as of now).

Coming back to Search Camp I was asked to be on the advisory board after I got a call from Mr Sukumar. He was an old client who worked with us regarding his project. He is part of the Core team of the Knowledge foundation. After that I interacted with Durga who kept me updated of the schedule and I also got a call from Ezhil Raja two days before the conference.

The first day was ok but majority of discussions were focused on the Paid side (PPC or Search Engine Marketing). Mahesh from Pinstorm gave a good presentation (but to be honest Mahesh is a great speaker – just like Vivek from Communicate 2). You give these guys a microphone in their hand and they can keep speaking – without boring the audience. It’s a natural talent both of these guys have.

I was on a panel that was supposed to discuss “Search Marketing – Inhouse or Outsource”. However most of the panelists were for outsourcing of Search Marketing. Kiruba (he was the host for the event – a very nice person with the right amount of humor) asked me and Vikram (from Efficient Frontier) if either of us would speak for doing Search Marketing in-house. Both of us said that we have to be truthful about our opinions and hence would support outsourcing. Luckily C. R. Venkatesh of Dot com Infoway said he would oppose. Also Kiruba did a great job of turning the audience against the four of us who were supporting Outsourcing.

I had to leave an hour after my session, but others enjoyed networking and had a blast. However, by the end of day 1 and beginning of day 2, the whole event was overshadowed by SEM and there were not enough sessions on SEO. It is at this time that we had an absolutely great (and funny) presentation on Black hat SEO by Ezhil Raja. You had to be there to see the digs he took at all Google, Yahoo and MSN (He called MSN the Spam search engine – it had me in splits).

During lunch at day 2, I was talking to Sukumar and Kiruba when few others joined in and Kiruba started a discussion on entrepreneurs and how they leave their job and start their own companies. I told him that I started my first company when I was in college (about eighteen) and that I was rejected in the first two job interviews of my life!

After Panel discussion on day 2 an impromptu SEO discussion was started (because the organizers were also fed up of SEM sessions). I was not there but Vivek and Gulrez from Communicate 2 said that they loved that session. Also I got a feel that lot of people in the audience themselves knew a lot about SEO.

Among the interesting people I met at this conference were three people from the Search Quality team of Google. I had some good discussions with Vivaik. I have posted it separately over here.

I also had some good discussions with Rajesh Sule from Position 2 (we first met at panel discussion at SEMPO Wednesday mixers on “Creativity in Search” – both of us were on the panel).

I also had sometime to talk with Mahesh Murthy (from Pinstorm) before he left to catch his flight on day 1. On day two I kept bumping into Vivek and Gulrez from Communicate 2 and Vivaik from Google Search Quality team.

I was a bit surprised when I kept bumping into people who knew eBrandz. Rajasekar of Sify told me that he loves our website and follows some of our own rankings. I also met a SEO professional from Hyderabad at Chennai airport who said that he follows our work. He thought that the owner of eBrandz was a 45 year old guy (I am 27 years old).

It was really encouraging to see a good audience at the Tidel Park in Chennai even on Sunday. Even amazing was the fact that 90% of the audience was from outside Chennai. I don’t remember, but this made someone comment to Kiruba that there is life outside of Chennai. The Auditorium at Tidel Park had great Air conditioning (much needed for the guys from Mumbai) and also had Wify connection from Sify. A Lot of people were surfing the internet while listening to speakers and cross checking some of the things they were saying.

A few of us from Mumbai told the knowledge foundation that another such event should definitely be planned (in Mumbai). They were going to discuss this Sunday evening. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

My talk with Google Search Quality engineer

During lunchtime of the Search Camp event in Chennai, I met Alok and Vivaik from Google. Two very unassuming guys who turned out to be Search Quality engineers at Google.

Although it would not be right on my behalf to post our entire discussion, but it was really good to know that these guys came to the Search Camp event just to hear SEOs comment on Google natural search. Although I did not see anyone specifically comment on this, I am sure they met some good people who will give them valuable feedback.

I asked them whether they go to forums to check what SEOs talk about Google and they replied in the affirmative. It seems that they visit webmasterworld, SEOchat and a few other forums. I also asked them if they were looking at only India specific results or global and it seems that they look into all English language results.

When asked if they were not fed up of rants and other biased comments from SEOs they said that it’s their job to see whether there was truth to what the SEOs are saying. I must say I was impressed because its very easy to get put off by excessive Google search sucks rant of SEO (ask any popular forum moderator and they will agree).