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Complete Review of SMX Advanced 2009

by on 06/27/09 at 8:33 am

Summary of SMX Advanced 2009

The Good Stuff

The hot topics this year were PageRankā„¢ Sculpting, which was quickly squashed by Matt Cutts during his keynote with Danny Sullivan and Social Media. Other important topics were advanced pay-per-click strategies, organic SEO best practices (for noobies) and link building. There were many Search Engine Marketing industry sessions where the pros gave their forecast of trends (some based on data, some on intuition) and answered questions about tough SEO obstacles, such as the Vince Update in Google that pushed brands to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPS).

Here are some bullet points you can take to the bank:

  • Best PPC takeaways: Start and stay strong on CTR & rank, then bid based on value per click
  • Best Social takeaways: Use social for Online Reputation Management & to syndicate great content
  • Best SEO takeaways: Put time in to micro-formatting (Rich Snippets) and mobile search

There was a lot of talk about the new Microsoft search engine, Bing. In fact, Microsoft through a great party at a sculpture museum across from the SMX Advanced location, with several kiosks for us to stop and talk with developers. The biggest SEO tip I was able to get from the developer I spoke with was actually pretty lame and had to do with keywords in the domain name itself. Truth be told, the engine’s algorithm really hasn’t changed much from Live or MSN Search and the developers admitted it. Great party though!

The Bad Stuff

Nothing’s really changed in SEO. A new face on an old engine and brands given more credibility in the SERPS, that’s about it. The Matt Cutts / Danny Sullivan keynote started great but had a very drawn out interruption by Michael Gray, a friend and enemy of Google and Matt Cutts.

We all need to invest more marketing budget toward Online Reputation Management (ORM) and using tools like Google Alerts and TweetBeep.com type notifications. As if the economy hasn’t hit us hard enough.

While I did get to mingle and meet with with industry pros, such as Rand Fishkin, Todd Friesen, Matt Cutts, Bruce Clay, and Michael Gray, I didn’t get to hang out with the ones that were MIA, such as Aaron Wall, Eric Ward, Brad Fallon, Brad Callen, Rich Schefren, Mike Filsaime, and others.

My Conclusion

SMX Adanced 2009 was great and packed full of strategies and metric/testing data from search engine marketing and SEO-specific case studies by the seasoned vets in SEO/SEM. I jotted down more strategy then I had absorbed all year.

I do think an SEO exam should be a qualifier for this event, as there were many people there new to search that held back some of the juicy content (that or a big sign “No Newbies Allowed”. I was hoping to see pick the brains of some of the experts I mentioned above who were no-shows.

Overall, the event was amazing. There’s no way I’m missing next year’s SMX Advanced 2010. Can’t wait to see all my new pals at SES San Jose 2009 next month! Are you going?

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