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Why You Should Attend SMX Advanced 2010: A Personal Preview, From Danny Sullivan

In about two months, our thrice sold-out SMX Advanced search marketing conference returns to Seattle. Below, a personal virtual tour about why I believe this is a must attend event for serious search marketers. Learn more about the show and why you should book now, not only to save with the early bird deadline expiring this week but also just to get in at all. We’ve sold over 70% of available tickets already, a faster take-up than in any previous year.

The Only Show For Advanced Search Marketers

I’ve been programming search marketing events for over 10 years now, since the very first one. Several years ago, I realized there was a need for a search marketing event just for advanced SEMs. Not just an advanced track or sessions within a bigger show but an event that was entirely devoted to advanced people. No beginners.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love people who are new to search marketing. It’s a fun and welcoming industry where beginners can find lots of support. Our SMX West and SMX East shows have sessions expressly designed to help beginners. But SMX Advanced is for vets. It gives them the unique opportunity to learn and discuss search marketing topics in a group setting without any time lost bringing others up to speed.

As I’ve said before, one of the best metaphors is that the show is a place where everyone can speak their native language without slowing down. Everyone at the event speaks search marketing fluently. You can have rapid-fire and high-level conversations about SEM.

SMX Advanced is the only major search marketing conference that offers a unique home like this for the veteran search marketer. It’s also my biggest programming challenge of the year, because creating sessions for such an experienced audience is a huge challenge. How do you “wow” an audience full of people who themselves are qualified to speak? But I think we’ve got an agenda that will do it again!

Mixing SEO & Social Media

Last year, we ran a new social media track at SMX Advanced. As I’ve written before, social media is like a kissing cousin to search, with plenty of search-like behavior. In short, good search marketers need social media these days — and it belongs as part of a search show.

So social media’s back at SMX Advanced. But rather than run it as an standalone track, I decided to mix social media and SEO sessions together into a “SEO & Social Media Track” that will run both days. I hope this helps ease some concerns that SEOs might have about wanting to hit a good social media session but not wanting to miss a good SEO session.

In particular, our social media sessions will be:

Twitter, Real Time Search & Real Time SEO – While grouped with the social media sessions, search is big component here. Only a few months ago, real time results were integrated into the main Google results. They represent an exciting and extremely dynamic area that SEOs are still struggling to understand.

Search Marketing In The Facebook Zone – There’s an entire Facebook “web” out there with millions of people performing searches, and Facebook content also flows out into the “real” web and web search engines. We’ve got a great session to keep advanced search marketers up on the latest tactics here. Learn about both organic and paid techniques.

The Ultimate Social Media Tools Session – Put on your social media sunglasses, because our pro speakers are going to dazzle you with the latest and greatest tools you should have in your social media toolbox.

Speaking Of SEO…

There are plenty of pure SEO sessions, including:

SEO For Google Vs. Bing: How Different Are They? – Later this year, Yahoo is expected to replace its search results with those from Bing. That will give us the first search engine for a very long time to be “powering” enough searches other than Google itself to make engine-specific optimization something people will again be considering. Should you do it? Are the differences that big? Our session will explore the subject.

So You Want To Test SEO? – This takes on a popular topic, the continued interest people have in wanting to test ranking factors to see which ones are most important. Sounds great, but testing is fraught with challenges — and the right “formula” still might not yield long-term results.

Build It Better: Site Architecture For The Advanced SEO – Think “on-the-page” SEO is dead? Think again. Google just made site speed a ranking factor. How you build your site still matters, and this session focuses on what advanced SEOs should be considering.

What You Don’t Know About YouTube – Quick, what’s the second biggest search engine in the United States? YouTube. Video search is a huge opportunity that remains overlooked by even advanced search marketers.

Show Me The Links: Real Life Link Building – Enough with the generic examples of link baiting or the bulletpoints of commonly known tips. This link building session focuses on real stories from link builders about how they obtained important and useful links in creative and unique ways.

Mega Session: SEO Vets Take All Comers – There’s no better way for an SEO to cap off SMX Advanced than to attend this entertaining yet informative session where nearly 100 years of combined SEO talent takes on any SEO question the audience puts to them.

All Aboard For Paid Search

There’s plenty for the paid search marketer at SMX Advanced, with a track entirely devoted to the topic on both days. Sessions include:

How’s Your QSO? Quality Score Optimization For Pros – The black box of Google’s quality score stumps even advanced search marketers, but we’ve got some QSO advice to help ease the pain.

Targeting The Search Funnel – People don’t just search and buy. They search, and research, and search again over weeks — often with different terms. Targeting them at various points of the “search funnel” can improve the odds of success. This session takes you through the funnel.

Pump Up Those Conversions! – You paid to get them to the site — why lose the battle there? For the advanced search marketer, tips and techniques on testing and boosting conversion.

The Mad Scientists Of Paid Search – Testing plays a huge role in paid search, so you want to experiment — and our “mad scientists” have! They share some of their greatest discoveries with an advanced audience that will appreciate it.

Ads On The Move: Mobile Paid Search – The smartphone market and mobile space continues to explode, with more and more ads being shown within it. This session takes advanced search marketers through opportunities and tactics with search and search apps to consider.

Amazing PPC Tactics – This session lets the advanced paid search marketer cap off their SMX Advanced experience with a “wow” at tactics being shared.

Minding Your Business

Our popular “Business Track” returns for its third year to SMX Advanced, with sessions designed for those who perform search marketing on an agency or consulting basis for others. These include:

Opening The Contracts Kimono: Translating Your Pricing Model To Legal Agreement – Agency business models are a staple Business Track topic. This year’s session explores how agency owners define their business models in their contracts. We’ll review the language they use and lessons learned along the way. No legal advice (you’ll need your own attorney for that), but the concepts shared may just be worth the price of admission.

Emotional Rescue: What You Need To Know About The B2B Buying Dynamic – Virtually every company at SMX sells to other businesses, whether you sell agency services or software tools. This session will explore the unique emotional factors that complicate selling to business customers, and how to overcome them.

Raising Capital During & After The Great Recession – The “Great Recession” ended a prolonged period of cheap money and aggressive investing. Come to this session for signs of investment capital “green shoots”, and case studies from companies that sought funding last year and what they learned.

Special Topics: The “New” Local Search & Getting Attribution Right

Beyond the sessions above, we have two other special topic sessions worth checking out:

Location Services: The New Local Search? – Think “check-in” services like Foursquare are all fun and games? Think again. Some believe they might be the “new” local search. Hype or not, they warrant attention. This session looks at how marketers are using them.

Demystifying Online Attribution – To fully understand what works with online marketing, you need to fully understand all the actions someone has taken and link that back to a conversion. Unfortunately, many things can hide the full picture. This session looks at how to improve the attribution of a purchase.


That covers our main sessions. Beyond these, we have two keynotes.

The first is a fun, long-standing SMX Advanced tradition, You&A With Matt Cutts. Google’s Matt Cutts leads Google’s spam detection efforts and has tons of advice for webmasters. There’s no PowerPoint in this session, just Matt taking questions and giving answers — and often taking and giving a little grief, too, all flavored with good humor.

As for our second keynote, stay tuned — more details will be coming shortly.

Freebies: Expo Hall & Sponsored Sessions

So far, I’ve covered our editorial sessions. Editorial sessions? That means sessions where our programming team has selected speakers based on their merits. No one is speaking on these because they’ve bought their way onto a panel — that’s part of our SMX Content Difference.

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

During the show, we run 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 some attendees who are also considering high quality editorial sessions. That causes them to want to match the “high tide” of content being provided.

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

An Expo Hall pass is free for anyone, as long as you register in advance. It 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, our premier sponsor and our two gold sponsors, Covario and Bruce Clay.

Networking & Parties

Beyond the conference sessions, there’s networking — and at SMX Advanced, 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. Connect with someone new during a session or plan to meet during a break!

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 “Meet & Eat” 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.

In the evening of the first day, we have a reception in the Expo Hall. That’s followed by Bing Presents In The Park 2010, where attendees can mingle in Seattle’s beautiful Olympic Sculpture Park.

So 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.

Post-Conference Training Sessions & Workshops Want to dive deep and learn more about a particular aspect of search marketing? SMX has partnered with some great companies to allow you to get more intimate, focused attention. Training and special event sessions happen the day after SMX Advanced ends, on June 10. They can be purchased independently or in conjunction with an SMX Advanced pass (which saves you money). Sessions so far:

Good Food, WiFi, Bags You Keep & Fabulous Venue

There’s no sense providing great sessions, great networking and letting the conference experience be ruined by a terrible box lunch. That’s why with SMX, boxes lunches are a no-no. You’ll get a great meal, on a real plate, and you’ll want seconds. No joke, people take pictures of the food at our events, it’s so good. You’ll also get refreshments during the day, yes, including the famed chocolate malted milk balls people rave about at SMX Advanced.

We’ll also keep you connected, providing free WiFi in the conference rooms. Tweet, and Facebook, and Foursquare and 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 other little touches, you’ll get a conference backpack — backpack, not a bag — that you’ll want to take home and use again and again.

The conference venue is beautiful, by the way. Held at the Bell Harbor conference center in Seattle, there’s a fantastic view of Elliot Bay and the surrounding area. Seattle itself is a fascinating city to explore.

SMX Advanced Sells Out — Book Now!

SMX Advanced only sells a limited number of tickets, in order to keep the setting more intimate — and those tickets have all sold out each year, as early as three weeks before the event. This time, tickets are selling faster than ever — over 70% of them have now gone. So no sales hype, just straight-forward advice. If you want to come, buy your ticket now. The early bird pricing expires at the end of this week, so you’ll lock in a great price and ensure you’ll have a ticket.

FYI, for the first time, we’re also running SMX Advanced outside the US. SMX Advanced London happens May 17 & 18, so check out that show, as well.

See You In Seattle!

For more about the show, be sure to visit the SMX Advanced Seattle web site, including the Agenda-At-A-Glance. See you there!

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