Search Marketing Expo – SMX East: A Personal Tour By Danny Sullivan


The SMX East search marketing conference comes to New York from Oct. 4-6. Involved with generating business for your company? You should be there, to ensure you’re keeping up with the burgeoning medium of search.

SMX East isn’t just for search marketers, though there’s plenty for the SEM folks! There’s also ample content for web designers, developers, public relations people and traditional marketers. Anyone who is even remotely involved with gaining visitors, customers or sales should be attending. Search is a crucial marketing medium that you ignore at your peril, that you embrace at your gain.

Below, a virtual tour of what to expect and why you should attend.

Something For Everyone

First, an overview of what SMX East is all about. This is one of the “big” SMX search engine marketing conferences that Search Engine Land’s publisher Third Door Media runs each year in the United States (SMX West, held in San Jose during March, is the other).

The event is large enough that we offer multiple tracks filled with sessions for people of all interests and experience levels. Beginner, intermediate or advanced — in PPC, SEO, or social media — there’s plenty for you.

To make your sessions choices easy, we have “ski run” icons on our Agenda-At-A-Glance page that indicate which sessions are suitable for anyone versus those with intermediate and expert skills. You can see which sessions are focused toward search engine optimization (working with “free” listings), PPC (paid search ads) or both combined (SEO+PPC = search engine marketing).

For The Newbies

Search engines are one of the major ways people locate information. That means search marketing isn’t just a big online marketing thing. It’s a huge marketing activity, period. If you are in a position that helps drive sales, visitors, customers and so on, you need to understand the search space.

Our SMX Boot Camp will get you up to speed. It happens on the first day of the show, Oct. 4. In it, you’ll learn the fundamentals in these sessions:

To encourage newbies to learn more about search, you can attend all of these sessions through a special low-cost SMX Boot Camp ticket, which includes admission to the afternoon keynote and the Expo Hall reception at the end of the day. You even get a certificate of completion! If you decide you want to learn more, you can upgrade your ticket to a full pass and attend sessions on the second and third day of the show.

For The Experts: SMX Advanced Track

SMX Advanced is our show especially for advanced search marketers held during June. It sold out once again this year. Missed it? We’ve got a mini-version running on the first day of the show, in the SMX Advanced Track:

Even if you made it to SMX Advanced, the SMX Advanced Track at SMX East features all new, all fresh sessions. In addition, there are plenty of expert-level sessions happening on the second and third day of the show, too.

Search Marketing Beyond Search Marketing

We know New York is home to large numbers of traditional marketers and advertisers. That’s why we’ve got a special track on the second day of the show designed to focus on search as part of the overall marketing activity. In the Marketing Track, sessions include:

Get Your Facebook Tweeting Socially In Real Time, YouTube-Style

SMX keeps the focus firmly on search, so that you can dive deep into this important area. But social media is so closely tied to search that search marketers need to be up-to-speed on social as well. That’s why we have two tracks on social. On the first day, there’s the Social & YouTube Track. On the second day, there’s the Twitter & Facebook Track. Sessions include:

Local & Mobile Search

The smartphone revolution continues, driving up the mobile search activity happening. Our Local & Mobile Search Track, which runs on Day 1, keeps you up to speed on the latest in the mobile and local search space. Sessions include:

When SEO Meets Design & Development

Working with designers or developers? Are you a designer or developer? Or are you an SEO who wants to ensure you’re up-to-speed on the latest technical aspects that can impact your SEO performance? The popular Technical SEO Track, programmed in conjunction with Nine By Blue, returns to SMX East. It has these sessions on the second day of the show, Oct. 5:

Paid Search, This Track’s For You

Really interested in sessions on paid search? There are plenty of sessions on this topic throughout the conference, but we also have a special Paid Search Track on Day 3 just for you. Park yourself in one place and enjoy! And tired of PowerPoint? Our two “Ask The…” sessions are PowerPoint-free. Put your questions to panel of paid search reps, then to a panel of paid search buyers. The sessions:

SEO, This Tracks For You

Don’t worry, SEO types! We’ve also got a track devoted to you. Aside from SEO-only sessions throughout the conference, Day 3 features an entire SEO Track, including two PowerPoint-free “Ask The…” sessions. The panels:

Analytics & Conversion

Getting people to your web site via search and social media marketing is only half the battle. Are they converting, when they arrive? And are you attributing the visit the right way? Plus, what can you learn from your competitors. Our Analytics & Conversion Track on the third day of the show has sessions on all of these topics:

In Housers & Retailers

Involved with doing search marketing in house, for a company or organization? We’ve got two special sessions for you on the third day of the show, in our In House & Specialty Search Track. The In House sessions will be posted soon, so stay tuned. As for specialty search, our Ecommerce & Retail Search Marketing Tactics is designed for those especially focused on online retail.

The Big Picture

While much of SMX focuses on how-to tactics, we also look at strategies. Where’s the space going and what issues does search marketing face? That especially happens in our Big Picture Track. Sessions include:

At the end of the second day, I’m also hosting our Evening Forum, where we talk about any topics, issues big or small, with lots of audience interaction.

Get Help At Clinics!

Looking for some specific advice from experts. See the doctor! On the second and third days of the show, our popular clinics return again in these areas:

Post-Conference Workshops & Training

Looking for even more advice in particular areas? Stick around for an extra day, and you’ve got a choice of optional workshops and training to choose from:

Over 50 Editorial Sessions!

Having covered the sessions, it’s worth a word on how we program our events.

All the SMX sessions I’ve described above are what we call editorial sessions. That means people are speaking on them because we feel they have great information to offer. No one bought their way onto a panel.

Each session is developed by a “session coordinator” who reviews speaking pitches and reaches out to knowledgeable people, to assemble a panel. The session coordinator then works with their speakers to create a session where presentations support each other, rather than overlap. In most cases, the session coordinator is also the session moderator.

I and my co-chair Chris Sherman oversee all the sessions. We’ve been organizing search conferences longer than anyone in the industry (this is my 12th year of doing it, myself!)

The attention to programming is part of what we call the SMX Content Difference, and it’s why we’re able to guarantee the quality of our events.

Freebies: Expo Hall, SMX Theater & Sponsored Sessions

Of course, the SMX East sponsors & exhibitors do have great information to share with SMX attendees. That’s why we provide some ways for you to hear from them.

On the first two days of the show, we have a Sponsors & Partners Track. Unlike editorial sessions, these are created and produced by the company sponsoring them. That’s why we mark them as “Sponsored Sessions.”

Despite being sponsored, they have lots of great information. Sponsors know they’re competing to attract attendees who are also considering high quality editorial sessions. That causes them to want to match the “high tide” of content being provided. Before some editorial sessions, we’ll also have a few very short “Solutions Spotlights” that are also offered.

The Expo Hall runs for both days of the show. In it, you can get information from exhibitors and sponsors about many products and services available to search marketers.

On the Expo Hall floor, SMX Theater Presentations are mini-sponsored sessions that are offered, lasting 20-40 minutes. They’re a great way to learn quickly about a company, product, service or topic. The full list of theater topics will be posted later this month to the SMX East site.

An Expo Hall is free for anyone, as long as you register in advance. The Expo+ Pass allows you into the Expo Hall and the sponsored sessions. And naturally, those with full conference passes can enter the Expo Hall, go to the SMX Theater or Sponsored Sessions, plus have access to all the editorial sessions.

This is also a good time to thank our major sponsors: Bing and FOX Audience Network, our premier sponsors; iProspect, our platinum sponsor, and our two gold sponsors, Covario and Bruce Clay.

Network Like You’ve Never Networked Before

Beyond the conference sessions, there’s networking. At SMX, we don’t leave networking to chance, where you hope to randomly encounter the right people. We’re organized!

Even before you arrive, our SMX Connect networking system will allow you to meet people. Think of SMX Connect as an easy-to-use, disposable Facebook for just this event. You can find people with common work or personal interests, plan sessions to attend and see others who say they’re going.

The night before the show, we have our SMX Meet & Greet reception. It’s another easy way to meet people before the show starts.

During lunches, we offer special Birds of a Feather lunch tables, where attendees can network with each other and discuss specific topics. Being grouped with people who share a common interest is a great icebreaker. And in the evening of the first day, we have a reception in the Expo Hall.

Don’t be worried about meeting people. You’re going to meet plenty of them. Come out, and when you’ve registered, don’t forget to tell the world using one of our I’m Going badges.

Good Food, WiFi & Backpacks

We want you to really enjoy your SMX experience. That’s why we don’t do boxed lunches at our shows. You’ll get a great lunch, on a real plate, and you’ll want seconds. You’ll also get refreshments during the day. People take pictures of the food we serve at our events, they’re so amazed and pleased. Honest!

We’ll also keep you connected, providing free WiFi in the conference rooms. Twitter and Facebook and Foursquare email to your heart’s content – though consider shutting that laptop or turning off that iPad, lest you miss a great point one of our speakers is going to make.

Among the little touches, we’ll also give you a conference backpack. It’s a real backpack, not a bag, that you’ll take home and use again and again.

Still To Come: TBAs & Keynotes

Could there be more? Yes! Two sessions are marked TBA, which gives us a chance to add in any late-breaking topics. In addition, we’ve got two keynotes that will be announced shortly, so stay tuned!

Go. Now. Register!

I sure hope you’re ready to attend! You’ll find more details on the SMX East web site, including the Agenda-At-A-Glance. You can register online or by phone at (877) 242-5242. Do it by Sept. 10 to get the best “Early Bird” rate on your ticket, and you can save up to $300 off our on site pricing.

See you in New York!

This post was originally published on Search Engine Land by editor-in-chief Danny Sullivan, who also serves as co-chair for Search Marketing Expo – SMX East.