Earlier this week, the news broke that ClickZ Live, formerly Search Engine Strategies, was shutting down. Long-time search pros took to Twitter to share stories of how they got started in the industry speaking at SES.
As many of my readers know, I started doing search way back in 2002. It wasn’t long before I realized I had a lot to learn. So in 2003, while working in-house, I convinced the CEO of the company to send me and our IT director to Search Engine Strategies in Boston.
I was hooked. I got to hear the movers and shakers, including Andrew Goodman and Brad Geddes, speak at the conference. I met many of the people I’d been chatting with on the Search Engine Watch forums. The content was so valuable that I started attending SES annually. I even blogged about how much I loved it. SES was really the only game in town, and it was a great one.
In 2009, I had my first speaking gig at SES. It was the start of a love affair with speaking about search that continues to this day.
My last SES was in 2012 (not counting a small local show in Atlanta in 2014). I couldn’t justify attending anymore – I wasn’t learning anything, since the content had been watered down so much; and there were other conferences that were more valuable.
And then, in 2014, SES/ClickZ Live started charging people to speak at the big shows. That was the death knell for the conference for most of us. Search pros just can’t afford to pay to speak – and why would we? Many conferences pay their speakers (although, admittedly, it’s not common in the search industry).
The whole demise of SES is sad, and yet not surprising. Search Engine Strategies as we know it died two years ago, if not sooner. Not long ago, out of curiosity, I checked the website for a recent ClickZ Live event, and I didn’t recognize a single speaker on the agenda. And the session topics weren’t interesting at all. I couldn’t imagine any search marketer worth their salt paying to attend, much less paying to speak.
It truly is the end of an era. Thankfully, there are plenty of other good search conferences out there: SMX, HeroConf, and Pubcon; plus some excellent local conferences such as SEMpdx, SLCSEM, and DFWSEM, to name a few.
What are your thoughts on the end of SES/ClickZ Live? Does anyone even care? Share in the comments!