John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?

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February 22nd, 2008 by john andrews

Search Engine Strategies Conference in New York (SES NYC)

The Search Engine Strategies Conference and Expo is scheduled for March 17-20 in New York City, just 4 weeks away. I attended SES San Jose last year, my first time ever at an SES (Last year I attended SMX Advanced, Adtech, SES, Domain Roundtable, T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East, and Pubcon in order to get a fresh personal look at each of them). I have been to several Pubcons before, but those were my first times at the rest. Since I have posted about SMX and Pubcon, it’s only fair I post about SES.

Looking back at my personal experiences last summer/fall, SES San Jose produced more active business activity than SMX and Pubcon combined.

Looking back at my personal experiences last summer/fall, SES San Jose produced more active business activity than SMX and Pubcon combined. On the face of it, that seems reasonable because SES is such a large show, and has a heavy corporate participation level. Pubcon draws a large number of small business owners and operators, while SMX seems to me to attract the search society people more than corporations. Maybe since I am mostly interested in search marketing as business strategy, the SES audience was a better fit for me?

I did notice that of the new people I met at SES in August, few were also at any of the other events I attended. This was especially true of domainers. I did meet a few domainers at pubcon and SMX, but I met far more active domaining companies at SES San Jose. This may have been because SES is traditionally the search show, and because San Jose is the Silicon Valley show? I’m not sure. Of the people I met at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East (the serious domaining meeting), those who knew of search knew of SES and not the other shows.

So for some reason I met more business contacts at SES. I did not speak or sit on any panels at SES, as I did at others, so my own participation level wasn’t an obvious factor. Several people told me they planned to always attend SES as their search marketing show, which might explain it. I did have two side meetings scheduled at SES because the business execs were attending the show and asked if I would be there (and so, at the last minute, I planned to be there). Again, suggesting that SES is a productive environment for business?

There are a few people out there in Internet land who rate these shows for quality as we attend them, half jokingly but also half seriously. By whisper when we sit together, or via twitter clues or texting, we question the value of each session or event, comparing SES to SMX to pubcon, sometimes calculating the dollar cost per minute for the lesser presentations, and sometimes noting the dollar value of rare gems of zero-day information. That is fun, but also real: we independents pay our own way to these things, and waste is not a good thing for any business.

If you’re going, Search Engine Strategies offers a $150 discount for registering before February 29th, which prompted my post today. I saw there is another 10% off for members of SEMpdx members, which only costs $125 a year, so that’s a good deal for coupon cutters out there. If you have any personal experience with SES New York vs. SES San Jose, I’d love to hear about it.

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February 21st, 2008 by john andrews

Google’s Microsoft Health Vault

When Microsoft announced Microsoft Health Vault, for storing and retrieiving sensitive personal health records over the public Internet, I commented with “Microsoft is first out of the gate announcing Health Vault, an online personal health information database of Google proportions.” Now that Google has regained its composure in the health database area, it is testing a Google version of Health Vault in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic.

Reportedly, this new sensitive medical data will be yet another aspect of the standard Google account. The same Google account that they use for tracking analytics, advertising spend (for those who advertise), ad consumption (for those who click ads), online video watching (for those who use YouTube), email (for those on GMail), saving whatever you search for on the Internet for practically forever, and so much more (“so much more” referring to DoubleClick data, library data being archived by Google, news wires, government records, etc).

Yes, the very same Google accounts which have been compromised by security holes in the very recent past (remember when we learned that others could read our GMail accounts?) will now be used to store and access your sensitive medical records. Hey, it works for YouTube, so why not your genetic screening test results?

This is under test with the Cleveland Clinic. Tests, of course, of how well it can make money for Google and the Cleveland Clinic. Oh sure the testing involves some safety issues, but the kind like “did any patients get hurt by errors?” (because that would create liability), and “did anything get seriously, obviously mucked up?” (ecause that would be ambrasssing). I doubt very much it is a test of real security or feasibility of exposing the records to International hackers via the Internet… youknow the people who sit back in their repaired Aeron chairs over in the-regions-recently-bombed-to-hell and try just about anything possible to access social security numbers, bank account data, or sensitive information that can be sold for currency.

Our commercial deployers of technology still insist on trying to promise security, while ignoring the obvious, known problems (storing encryption keys on local hardware(PDF)) and trying to convince us they are more innovative than everyone else (not).

If Google wants to test the feasibility of this Google Health Vault, they should put up billboards around the world saying “Solve this puzzle and get a job at Google”, and then challenge the worlds “brightest minds” to find a way in to that sensitive health data. Go ahead, Google. I triple dog dare ya!

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February 19th, 2008 by john andrews

Interviewed on SEMPortland.com Search Marketing Blog

I will be speaking at the SearchFest in Portland on March 10, which is hosted by SEMpdx.com. Todd Mintz asked to interview me and then crafted some very interesting “a-typical” questions that were actually fun to answer. I’m not as confident as Todd that people want to know my views on Internet Privacy and How to Raise Kids to be Online Entrepreneurs, but the search marketing and SEO questions were very good. I appreciate the interest and the opportunity to appear on the SEMpdx.com blog, especially in advance of SearchFest.

You can read the interview here, and check out the SearchFest 2008 Agenda.

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