There’s a reason I never miss an SMX conference in the US. They are far and away the best SEO focused conferences out there.
That’s mostly because Danny Sullivan, Chris Sherman and the whole team at Third Door Media do an amazing job with the programming. But it’s also because SMX brings together some of the best minds in the search industry. And I don’t just mean the panelists. The attendees themselves are amazing. They’re typically people who’ve been around the industry for a while and that means that the panelists and the topics don’t have to cater to the lowest common denominator. A smarter audience allows for a smarter conference.
And then there’s what I call the Google factor.
I try to go to all three US SMX shows every year: SMX West in San Jose, SMX Advanced in Seattle and SMX East at the end of September. And somehow there is a major announcement from Google just before or during the conference. To me, that’s one of the things that makes SMX so special. You get to discuss Panda, Penguin, Pigeon or any of Google’s other algorithmic updates with a whole lot of other smart people. We talk about what works, what doesn’t work, we bounce ideas of each other. And that makes us all smarter and better at what we do.
“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”
And true to form, Google sent someone – this year it was Gary Illyes – to the conference to address the update and provide some guidance about the potential impact to our businesses and our Clients.
But there are other reasons to go to SMX. Duane Forrester from Bing is always there to add some much needed transparency to the question of how and why search engines do what they do. Dr. Pete Meyers from MOZ can dissect trends in the SEO universe (and explain them so that mortals can understand them) like no one else. His presentation on where SERPs have been and where they’re likely to go (and why) was really enlightening. Mike Gracen from SeaWorld put forward a really compelling case for why SEO and SEM work better when they’re thought of together. Gord Hotchkiss from Giro Vacations did an amazing, amazing job explaining the latest eye tracking research and how it shows how human interaction with SERPs has evolved in the 9 years since the first study. There’s Rae Hoffman, aka SugarRae – Jersey born and bred – who can you can count on to be honest, informative and frank. And call BS on both SEOs and the search engines when necessary. And there’s there’s the always entertaining Marty Weintraub from AimClear. Marty knows more about buying and targeting ads on Facebook than any two people I know and presents with more energy that a 2 year old toddler who’s had a shot of espresso.
There are of course many, many more people who offer their insights and their passion. These are just some of my favorites. But the bottom line is this. If you’re a digital marketer and you’re out to be the best at what you do, go to SMX and hang out with the best of the best. I promise it’ll be worth it.