Why You Should Come to SMX East: Conference Chair Danny Sullivan’s Show Preview

July 26, 2011 by Kendra Jaros

This post was originally published on Search Engine Land by Danny Sullivan, SMX East conference co-chair and Search Engine Land’s editor in chief.

Search Engine Land’s SMX East search engine marketing conference is headed back to New York City from Sept. 13-15. We’ve got a great agenda. This is my semi-traditional preview for our readers of what we’ve got planned. You should go! Here’s why.

Why Everyone Should Come!

SMX East is one of the two large Search Marketing Expo events that Search Engine Land’s publisher Third Door Media runs each year in the United States. SMX West, held in San Jose Feb 28-March 1, is the other.

The event is entirely focused on search marketing. Search remains the biggest of the online marketing channels, and it deserves the focused deep dive that only we provide over three days. At SMX East, search isn’t shoved in among other marketing topics. It’s proudly performing center stage, all the time.

The conference isn’t just for search marketers. SEOs, SEMs and those doing both will find a welcome home at the show, but anyone even remotely involved with publishing or marketing should attend. Whether you’re a web designer, developer, in public relations, advertising or traditional marketing, search is such a crucial marketing medium that you should maintain an ongoing education about it.

SMX East gives you that education, no matter who you are. The show is big enough that we can offer multiple tracks filled with sessions that cover all interests and experience levels. Beginner, intermediate or advanced — focused on paid search, SEO or both — we’ve got plenty planned for you.

Our Agenda-At-A-Glance provides an overview of everything that’s going on, complete with “ski run” icons that indicate sessions suitable for your experience level and skills. Labels identify sessions that are focused toward search engine optimization (working with “free” listings), PPC (paid search ads) or both (SEO+PPC = search engine marketing).

SMX Boot Camp Gets You In Shape

If you’re new to search marketing, our SMX Boot Camp will get you up to speed. It happens on the first day of the show, Sept. 13. Attend and you’ll learn the fundamentals in these sessions:

To encourage new people to learn about search marketing, we offer all these sessions through a low-cost SMX Boot Camp ticket. That includes admission on the first day of the show to Expo Hall, networking lunch and Expo Hall reception, the Evening Forum at the end of the day and the conference keynote on the morning of the second day. You can upgrade to a full pass, should you want to attend more sessions on the second and third day.

SMX Boot Camp is, of course, also open to anyone with a full All Access conference pass. Everyone who attends gets a certificate of completion.

SMX Advanced @ SMX East

SMX Advanced is our smaller conference designed for advanced search marketers that’s held every June in Seattle. It always sells out and did so faster than ever this year. Missed getting in? We’ve got some of the best sessions coming to the Best Of SMX Advanced Track on the first day of the show:

In addition to the SMX Advanced Track, there are plenty of expert-level sessions happening across all three days of SMX East. So if you did make it to SMX Advanced Seattle, New York’s still got plenty of fresh advanced content for you.

The Big Picture

Much of SMX is focused on tactics, because we know our audience loves to come away with practical advice they can put to use. But we also like to focus on strategic issues. What new, what’s changing, where are things going? Our Big Picture Track on the first and the second day of the show covers these types of topics:

Social Meets Search

A hallmark of SMX is that our sessions all relate to search. So why have sessions about social media? Because social media has an increasingly growing impact on search results. These sessions will keep you ahead on how these two areas are intersecting:

Social, Local & Mobile: SoLoMo!

Search and social are also intersecting another way, with local businesses and mobile devices. The area is developing so much that in December, we’re hosting our first SMX SoLoMo conference focused on Social, Mobile and Local Search. For those who want a taste, or can’t make it to that dedicated show, we have the SoLoMo Track at SMX East that covers these topics:

Getting Technical About SEO

Do you work with designers or developers? Are you a designer or developer? Are you an SEO who wants to be sure you’re keeping up with the latest technical aspects that can impact your SEO efforts? The popular Technical SEO Track, programmed in conjunction with Nine By Blue, covers these type of topics. It returns to SMX East on the second day of the show:

Even More SEO

Beyond the Technical SEO Track, the third day of SMX East features even more content about search engine optimization, in the SEO Track, including two of our famous — and PowerPoint-free — “Ask The…” sessions:

Beyond the track, there are also SEO-related sessions in other tracks throughout the conference.

Paid Search Track, 2X

Are you focused on paid search? Don’t worry, all that talk about SEO above doesn’t mean you’re left out. In addition to paid search-related sessions throughout the conference, we also have a special Paid Search Track running on the second and third day of the show, with these sessions:

Analyzing Analytics

Bringing in the traffic is great, but can you learn more about how to further attract people and convert those visitors? Of course! Our Analytics & Conversion Track on the third day of the show has sessions that look at analytics issues like these:

In Housers & Enterprise Search Marketing

Do you do search marketing “in house” for a company or organization? If so, the first day of the show has two special sessions for you, in our Enterprise & In House Track, produced in conjunction with SEOinhouse.com:

As for the “Enterprise” in the name of that track, it refers not to the Starship Enterprise but rather anyone tasked with the challenging job of doing big scale search marketing. Work for a big company? Managing many sites? We’ve got sessions designed for you:

The Clinic Is Open!

Want specific advice from experts about issues with your sites or campaigns? The doctors are in! On the second and third days of the show, our popular clinics return again in these areas:

Pre-Conference Workshops & Training

Looking for even more advice in a smaller group setting on particular topics? Come a day early, and attend one of our in-depth workshops and training classes:

All Access + Workshop and Workshop only passes available.

“Filter Bubble” Keynote & Evening Forum

On the morning of the second day, we’re pleased to have Eli Pariser, author of The Filter Bubble, talking about his concerns that as the internet — including search — becomes more personalized, we’re potentially becoming trapped in a “bubble” of only things we like. It’ll make for an interesting conversation that you won’t want to miss.

SMX East also sees the return of our popular Evening Forum With Danny Sullivan, which I’m hosting. The audience sets the topics and helps provide the answers.

Quality Programming

I’ve covered most of the show, which has over 50 editorial session in all. Now, some words about producing those sessions.

All the SMX sessions I’ve described above are what we call editorial sessions. 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 works with the speakers to create a session where presentations support each other, rather than overlap. In most cases, the session coordinator is also the session moderator.

Formats also vary. Sometimes we have panels with multiple people. Sometimes we have only one or two speakers. Some panels are all Q&A. Some feature presentations. We don’t lock ourselves into one particular format, because different topics require different approaches. Instead, we focus on creating a great overall experience.

The entire editorial portion of the show is overseen by me and my co-chair Chris Sherman. We’ve been organizing search conferences longer than anyone in the industry; I’ve been at it for 13 years!

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 & Plus Sessions

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

On the first two days of the show, we have a Sponsors & Partners Track. Unlike our editorial sessions, these are created and produced by the company sponsoring them. That’s why we mark them as “Plus 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” that our editorial sessions set. 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 the many products and services available to search marketers.

On the Expo Hall floor, SMX Theater Presentations are mini-sponsored sessions that run 20 minutes each. Presenters frequently cover case studies – they’re a great way to learn quickly about a company, product, service or topic.

An Expo Hall is free for anyone, as long as you register in advance. The Expo+ Pass allows you into the Expo Hall, the SMX Theater and Plus sessions for September 13-14; the Expo Hall Reception and Evening Forum on September 13; and the morning keynote on September 14. Of course, those with full conference passes have access to all of these events plus all the editorial sessions. For a breakdown of what each pass offers, check out our pass options page.

This is also a good time to thank our platinum sponsor Covario and our gold sponsors Bruce Clay, Inc., Marin Software and SubmitEdge.

Organized 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 social network for just this event. You can find people who have common work or personal interests and plan sessions to attend.

The night before the show, we have our SMX Meet & Greet reception. It’s another easy way to meet people before the show starts. At the end of the first day, the SMX Expo Hall Reception offers another chance to mingle.

During lunches, we offer our unique 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. Attendees can sign-up for BOF tables via SMX Connect – table topics are published several weeks prior to the show.

All these options can be found our networking page. You’re going to meet plenty of people! And when you’ve registered, don’t forget to tell the world using one of our I’m Going badges.

Good Food, WiFi & Backpacks

A good SMX experience means no boxed lunches at our shows. You’ll get a great meal, on a real plate, and you’ll want to go back for more. You’ll also get refreshments and snacks 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. Also among the little touches, we’ll also give you a conference backpack. It’s a real backpack, one that you’ll take home and use again and again.

Come On Out!

I hope you’ve found this preview useful and are 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 August 20 to get the best “Early Bird” rate on your ticket.

See you in New York!