Tuesday, October 03, 2006

SES Local Search Conference - Denver

As promised, here's the full recap of my trip to Search Engine Strategies Local Search Conference in Denver.

This was the first SES conference to focus exclusively on local search. As a result, it came off too specific and spent too much time trying to convince an audience who already saw the importance of local search to drink the Kool-Aid. It wasn't necessary, we were already there.

My favorite session was "Coping with Convergence: Local Search Meets Mobile and WiFi." It was very forward thinking and dealt with reaching consumers through mobile devices and technology. I think this will be where local search truly hits it big. This includes maps, finding the nearest pizza place and even opt-in coupons.

As we move toward a more WiFi future, automatically determining a user's exact location will rely on WiFi rather than GPS or IP addresses. Although this has security and stalker implications, it benefits the user because it allows them to find and get directions to the closest businesses without having to input their location.

One cool program that already uses this technology is Loki, which is a local search application that automatically recognizes a user's location through WiFi. Loki comes from Skyhook Wireless whose VP of Market Development, Jed Rice, presented the application and gets the nod for best speaker at the conference.

The conference featured speakers from Google Local, Yahoo Local, MSN's Live Local Search, Local.com and TrueLocal.com. It also threw out some great ideas and strategies for local businesses to increase their internet presence. Not everyone can afford to buy an add on CNN.com, but everyone can get a free listing on Google Local, Yahoo! Local and MSN's live Local Search. It also outlined some strategies to reach a geographic targeted audience using text ads.

All in all, it was well worth the trip. However, the conference needs to evolve and mature with the technology before the next local search conference.

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