Why SMX East Is A Can’t-Miss Event


This post was originally published on Search Engine Land by SMX conference chair Chris Sherman.

Search Engine Land’s SMX East search engine marketing conference is returning to New York City on October 2-4. We’ve got a revamped, updated agenda, and have already confirmed a number of world-class speakers. If you’re involved in marketing, PR, social media or any other customer-facing activity, you owe it to yourself (and the ultimate benefit of your company or client’s bottom line) to attend the show. Here’s why.

2012: The Tipping Point Year When Everything Changed

The world of search has changed more this year than any other in the past decade. Consider these inflection points:
  • Google radically overhauled just about everything, from making sweeping algorithm changes that caused considerable pain for many, to fully integrating all of its services into Google+… even making changes to its ads and product search offering.
  • Though “everyone” saw it coming, spending for online advertising surpassed magazine and newspaper spend combined, and within just a few years is projected to surpass TV ad spend. By some measures, Ad budgets for search represent the majority of online spend.
  • Demand for qualified search marketers is far outstripping supply, with intense competition for talent and no letup in sight.

These are just three of the trends reshaping the world of search marketing. And at SMX East, we’re taking deep dives into these topics and more, offering insights and tactical solutions for resolving pain points and taking your marketing to the next level.

Something For Everyone

SMX East is one of 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 in March, is the other.

Search is a proven medium for driving traffic, conversions and sales. Whether you’re a web designer, developer, in public relations, advertising or traditional marketing, knowing the latest search marketing developments is critical to success.

SMX East gives you the education, tactics and strategies to thrive in search marketing. The conference is big enough that we offer multiple tracks filled with sessions that cover all interests — paid search, SEO, social media marketing — and all experience levels, from beginner to advanced.

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), and the increasingly crucial social media 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, Tuesday, October 2. 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, and the Evening Forum. 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 all four boot camp sessions 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, including sessions focused on cutting edge SEO, paid search, and opportunities in the brave (and lucrative!) new world of tablets and smartphones:

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.

SMX Summit

We often hear from people that in addition to attending sessions, some of the most valuable learning they take away comes from interacting and networking with other search marketing professionals. To address that, we’ve added an all new track to SMX East: SMX Summit. These PowerPoint-free sessions feature the foremost experts in the world discussing and debating important topics, followed by no-holds-barred Q&A where they’ll be ready to answer any and all of your questions. The lineup for SMX summit includes:

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 emerged as another great way to interact with customers, and it has an increasingly growing impact on search results. In fact, a recent CMO Survey from Duke University says that in the next 5 years marketers expect to spend 20% of their budgets on social media. That’s serious money – and raises serious questions, like how should you allocate resources, how will you know what you’re doing is effective, and how will you be able to be more “socially adept” compared with your competitors?

These sessions will keep you ahead on how search and social media are intersecting:

On The Spot With Local & Mobile Search

Well-known internet observer and Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker has hailed this decade as the era of “SoLoMo” – the intersection of social media with local and mobile search. To complement our social media sessions, we’ve put together sessions that let you “check in” with the hottest trends in local and mobile search:

Competitive SEO For Fun & Profit

With constant algorithm changes, personalization affecting search results, and an ever-increasing number of competitive websites appearing every day, it’s challenging for SEOs to keep up. A further challenge is to justify your hard work and persuade bosses or clients why – and exactly how – your work is valuable. If you’re just getting started with SEO, SMX East’s SMX Boot Camp can help, but we’ve also got plenty of sessions designed to help seasoned professionals keep and sharpen their edge:

What Semantic SEO Means For The Future Of Search Marketing

Semantics – literally the study of meaning – is the next wave in search. We’ve always had meta data to express meaning, but increasingly, with search engines recognizing more types of microdata formats and with Google’s push into understanding meaning via its vast “knowledge graph,” SEOs need to focus more closely on linguistic meaning beyond simple keyword and anchor text optimization techniques. At SMX East, these sessions delve into the increasingly important power of semantics:

Paid Search Track

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 first day of the show, with these sessions:

For Enterprise & In-House Marketers

Large organizations face unique challenges, ranging from multiple sites in multiple countries to managing a wide array of stakeholder interests. In-house marketers, regardless of whether they work at a large or small company, face similar challenges. If you’re in either of these roles, you’ll want to check out these sessions:

Content Really Is King These Days

Over the past year, Google has increasingly stepped up its efforts to find and promote “high quality” sites and penalize those with sparse or spammy content. If you’re not focusing on building the best possible site you’re likely in trouble, or will be, as Google continues this relentless purge. But what exactly is “good” content? This track focuses specifically on separating the wheat from the chaff:

Exploring Issues & Tactics

Search marketing is largely tactical – getting the job done efficiently and profitably. But there are also external issues that everyone should be aware of, if only to avoid outside factors that are increasingly influencing what can, and cannot, be done. This track looks at a wide range of issues and tactics, including:

The Benefits Of Going Vertical

Most marketers tend to focus on Google, and with good reason. But there are numerous alternatives that offer significant sources of traffic and potential conversions that you should not overlook. This track focuses on the verticals that can help you get elevated beyond the mainstream search engines:

The Clinic Is Open!

Want specific advice from experts about issues with your sites or campaigns? The specialists 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 you’ve got a choice of in-depth workshops and training classes to choose from:

Save by registering for both the SMX East pre-conference workshops and All Access pass combo.

Keynote & Evening Forum

If you’ve spent any time in social media, there’s an excellent chance you’ve used a product that started with Betaworks. The company gave birth to Summize, which became Twitter Search. Twitter’s TweetDeck client is another Betaworks child. Millions shorten URLs with Bitly each month; SocialFlow helps managers send tweets and Facebook posts to their audiences; Chartbeat provides real-time analytics. Newest child? Digg, which was reborn in six weeks under Betawork’s parentage. Don’t miss the SMX East keynote conversation with Betaworks CEO John Borthwick, who will cover how his company decides what to back in the rapidly evolving world of social media, as well as trends and his perspectives on the space.

SMX East also sees the return of our popular Evening Forum With Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief of Search Engine Land and co-chair of SMX East. 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 Danny Sullivan. We’ve been organizing search conferences longer than anyone in the industry – more than 14 years and counting!

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 October 2-4; the Expo Hall Reception and Evening Forum on October 2 and the morning keynote on October 3. 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 premier sponsors Covario and Marin Software, and our gold sponsors BrightEdge, Bruce Clay, Inc and Quantcast.

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, you’ll meet other attendees, speakers and the SMX team on our private SMX Facebook Group . 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 opportunity 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 through our online registration system – we’ll announce when those topics are published and sign up is open, typically several weeks before 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.

Join Us In The Big Apple!

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 At-A-Glance Agenda. You can register online or by phone at (877) 242-5242.

See you in New York!