The Big Preview Post: Search Engine Land’s SMX West 2012 Search Marketing Conference Comes To San Jose


This post was authored by Danny Sullivan, conference chair for SMX West and editor-in-chief of leading marketing blog SearchEngineLand.com

Want to attend SMX West? Register here before January 28 and you’ll save $250 off on-site rates.


Our next Search Engine Land conference, SMX West 2012, comes to San Jose from February 28-March 1. This is my preview of what we’ve got on the agenda, over 50 sessions covering all aspects of search marketing. Consider it a personal invite of why you should come.

SMX: All Search, All The Time

SMX West is one of the two big Search Marketing Expo shows each year programmed by Search Engine Land. SMX East, held in October 2-4 in New York City will be our other one.

I and my co-chair Chris Sherman oversee conference programming. No one’s been organizing search marketing conferences for as long as we have. I’ve been at it for nearly 15 years now; Chris for almost as long.

The show has sessions focused around search marketing. It’s not that we don’t love other types of digital marketing. We do! That’s why we started our Marketing Land site.

But search marketing is the largest of the digital marketing activities. It deserves the type of deep dive into all its facets that only our SMX shows provide.

Everyone Needs To Know About Search

Search marketers — those doing SEO and SEM – will obviously find plenty on the agenda that caters to them. However, anyone involved with publishing or marketing should attend.

Developers, web designers, public relations folks or advertising professionals: search is so important in various ways to anyone involved with online content that you should be educated about it. SMX West will get you up-to-speed or keep you on top of your game, no matter who you are.

Our Agenda-At-A-Glance page provides an easy-to-read overview of the entire show. It even provides “ski run” symbols to indicate sessions suitable for anyone or those with more expert skills. Here’s a closer look at what to expect.

Boot Camp For The Newbies

SMX Boot Camp Certificate

New to search marketing? Our SMX Boot Camp track is designed for you. It happens on the show’s first day, February 28, and covers these fundamentals:

Everyone who attends all four sessions receives a certificate of completion.


To especially help people learn about the world of search engine marketing, our SMX Boot Camp ticket makes all this entire track available for a low price. In addition to the sessions, the ticket allows you access to the Expo Hall, our networking lunch, plus the Expo Hall reception and Evening Forum at the end of the first day. If you decide you want more, you can upgrade your pass to attend further sessions.

Of course, the SMX Boot Camp track is also open to anyone with an All Access conference pass.

The Changing World Of Local & Mobile Search

Also happening on the first day is our Local & Mobile track, designed to help everyone keep up on the important ways that search marketing is developing on mobile devices and how local search is changing. If you haven’t thought of a check-in as a local search, think again and benefit! That’s just one of the topics that will be covered on the first day, along with mobile sessions in our New Thinking and Vertical tracks on days two and three:

Paid Search, In Depth

We’ve got those focused on paid search covered, with a full track on the first day devoted to paid search. That’s followed by half-day tracks on the second and third days, plus PPC sessions that happen within our In House, Enterprise and Clinics tracks. Here’s the full line-up:

Trends In SEO

Much of SMX focuses on tactical advice, because our audience wants tips and techniques they can take back and put to immediate use. But our Trends In SEO track will take a look at some big picture topics, to understand where SEO is heading plus promote new strategic ways of thinking. The two personalization sessions will especially help anyone trying to understand last week’s launch of Google’s “Search Plus Your World” results. Topics include:

Technical SEO

Are you a developer or designer? Do you work with developers or designers? Are you an SEO who wants to keep up the latest technical issues that can impact your SEO efforts? Our popular Technical SEO Track, programmed in conjunction with Nine By Blue, covers these type of topics on the second day of the show:

Tactical SEO

Beyond the tracks I’ve mentioned above, the SEO Track on the third day of the show covers further tactics and tips to help you succeed with search engine optimization. There are also other SEO sessions happening in our Tools, Vertical Search and Clinics tracks. The line-up:

Search & Social

When you understand that social is turning into the new link building, you understand why we have an entire track dedicated to helping you succeed better on the major social networks. Learn social with a view toward improving your search efforts in these sessions:

New Thinking

On the second day, our “New Thinking” track has a variety of sessions designed to get you thinking about search marketing from a different mindset: that of your competitors, standing out from the crowd, beyond the usual keyword tools and how mobile search is changing:

Video & Ecommerce

What’s the second-largest search engine in the United States? YouTube, and you should be optimizing for it. Our Vertical Track has a session to get you going, along with a session focused on improving your ecommerce efforts and another on the mobile ad space:

Amazing Analytics

One of your best research tools are the visitors who are already reaching your site. In our Analytics & Tools Track, sessions cover how to make use of your analytics to gain support for more resources or even develop new products. Sessions also cover cool analytics tools you’ll want to use and how to cope with Google’s change to not provide some keyword data about SEO:

In House Search Marketing

Do you perform search marketing “in house” for your company or organization? If so, our half-day In House track on day two of the show is perfect for you. Produced in conjunction with SEOinhouse.com, it offers these sessions:

Enterprise Search Marketing

Are you tasked with the challenging job of large-scale search marketing. Do you deal with multiple web sites or millions of pages? Work for a big company with many divisions? Our half-day Enterprise Track on day three has sessions designed for you:

The Doctors Are In!

Looking for specific advice about your web site or campaigns? Our Clinics Track, which runs on the second and third day of the show, has the cure you’re looking for:

Pre-Conference Training & Workshops

Want advice in a smaller group setting on particular topic, to further enhance your conference experience? Arrive a day early, and choose from a range of in-depth training classes and workshops:

Keynote & Evening Forum

SMX West has a great keynote lined up, with Google’s senior vice president of advertising Susan Wojcicki. Susan oversees the design, innovation and engineering of all Google’s advertising and measurement platforms, which includes AdSense, AdWords and Google Analytics.

Susan’s been with Google since 1999, and she’ll be speaking with me and Chris Sherman about where she’s seen search marketing come from and where it will be going. You won’t want to miss this talk, on the morning of February 29.

I’ll also be hosting our popular Evening Forum at the end of the first day of the show. No PowerPoint. No agenda. Instead, the audience sets the topics and helps provide the answers. Leading into the Evening Forum will be a short awards ceremony for the SMX Biggest Search Geek contest, sponsored by Marin Software. Join us and find out who won!

Quality Programming, Guaranteed

All the sessions I’ve covered above are what we call editorial sessions. No one bought their way onto these panels. People are speaking because our programming team feels they have great information to offer.

Also, neither Search Engine Land nor SMX offer their own search marketing services or software tools. When you come to one of our conferences, you can be assured there’s no hidden agenda to push a particular service. Our product is great information, and that’s what we deliver.

Our session formats vary. Some sessions feature solo speakers. Some have two or more speakers. Some panels are all Q&A. We never lock ourselves into a particular formal, because different topics require different approaches. With search marketing, it’s also often necessary to have more than one opinion or viewpoint presented.

The show’s speakers are recruited in two ways. We take time reviewing pitches to ensure we’re not missing great new people who aren’t known (yet!) in the industry, or good ideas that someone might suggest. We also reach out to invite knowledgeable experts.

Each session has a coordinator who works in advance with the speakers to ensure they’re prepared to deliver a great, on-topic presentation loaded with action items and useful information. Sessions with multiple speakers are always designed to ensure presentations support each other, rather than overlap.

This attention to programming is part of what we call the SMX Content Difference. It’s why we’re able to guarantee the quality of our events.

For Free: Expo Hall, SMX Theater, Plus Sessions, Expo Hall Reception & Keynotes

Many of our SMX sponsors & exhibitors  have great information to share with SMX attendees, of course. That’s why we provide transparent ways for attendees to hear directly from them.

The SMX Expo Hall is open for the first two days of the show. In it, you’ll find information from sponsors and exhibitors about the many products and services available to search marketers.

On the Expo Hall floor, SMX Theater Presentations are mini-sponsored sessions that run for 20 minutes each. This is an easy way to quickly learn about a company, product or service.

The Plus Session Track runs on the first two days of the show. Unlike editorial sessions, Plus sessions are created and produced by the company sponsoring them.

While Plus sessions are sponsored, they have lots of great information. Sponsors know they’re competing to attract attendees who are also considering high-quality editorial sessions. This causes those producing Plus sessions to want to match the “high tide” that the editorial sessions set. Before some editorial sessions, a few extremely short “Solutions Spotlights” are also presented.

The Expo Hall is free for anyone to attend, if you register in advance for an Expo+ Pass. The pass allows you access to:
  • Expo Hall
  • SMX Theater sessions
  • Plus sessions
  • Expo Hall reception
  • Evening Forum
  • Keynote
Of course, those with All Access passes can attend everything SMX West has to offer, from the Expo Hall, to Plus sessions, to 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 premier sponsors Acquisio, Covario and Marin Software, plus our gold sponsors, Bing and Bruce Clay, Inc..

Networking & Socializing

SMX doesn’t leave networking to chance. You won’t have to hope you randomly encounter the right people. We’re organized.

Our SMX Meet & Greet reception happens the night before the show. It’s a great way to meet people before everything gets going. At the end of the first day, there’s another good chance to connect, at the SMX Expo Hall Reception.

During lunches, we have our unique Birds-Of-A-Feather lunch tables. These allow attendees to network with each other and talk about specific topics.

On the last night of the show, SMX After Dark takes place, another time to talk, socialize and relax.

All these events 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.

Also be sure to keep up with news and people through our SMX social channels on Facebook, FoursquareGoogle+ and Twitter.

Great Food, Backpacks, WiFi & Power

We don’t do boxed lunches at SMX. You’ll get a nice meal, on a plate, and you’ll want more. You’ll also get refreshments and snacks during the day. People take pictures of the food at our events, because they’re so amazed and pleased. Honest!

We’ll also keep you connected. There’s free WiFi in the conference rooms, along with power outlets in the front row. Also among our little touches, you’ll get a conference backpack — a real one, useful, that you’ll take home and use again and again.

Come On Out!

I hope you’ve found this preview useful and want to attend! You’ll find more information on the SMX West web site, including the Agenda-At-A-Glance.

You can register online or by phone at (877) 242-5242. Do so by January 28 to get the best Early Bird rates.

See you in San Jose!