Having attended both SMX Advanced conferences in London and Seattle earlier this year, I thought it would be useful to share the highlights of each event and compare the differences of each conference.
Image credit: Flickr
On a personal level I found them both to very good events, for different reasons. London provided my first SMX speaking opportunity, while Seattle was the first conference I’ve attended in the US – so hopefully I can be in a good position to comment on both.
Top 10 Tips & Takeaways
Obviously the main reason for attending the conference are the sessions and this is the bit you really want to know, so I’ve picked 5 tips from each conference to get started.
SMX Advanced London
These are listed in more detail in my original SMX London review – but here’s a quick recap:
- Link building – be creative and use ideas such as offering student discounts to target educational links.
- Keyword research – use Mozenda as a keyword research tool to scrape Google suggest results to highlight top suggestions.
- Twitter/Google deal – Google and Bing now have a huge wealth of information available from Twitter. From recent tests they appear to be using this for QDF as well as real-time search, and expect organic search to be next.
- Facebook – try to think about advertising from a user perspective. Use profile interests, location and demographic information to build really targeted campaigns.
- Social media – make sure you measure the value saved in customer service costs when reviewing the performance of your social media activity.
SMX Advanced Seattle
- Indexing – try searching for [allinurl:domain.com] to find the full number of indexed pages in Google.
- Social media – a huge selection of social media tools was provided by Tony Adam, the best of the bunch to test out for me were FlowTown, PitchEngine, Klout and Scout Labs.
- Test, test and test again – some great multi-directional testing tips from Branko Rihtman.
- Link building – almost too many tips to mention, but Chris Bennett’s infographic viral marketing ideas stand out as a very effective tactic. Tip; use topical content for wide-appeal and to generate a broad range of links – and niche ideas for targeted links and attention.
- Twitter – use Twitter search to find customers (“where to buy…” or “anyone know…”), links (“sponsors…”) and guest blogging opportunities (“guest bloggers…” or “write for us…”)
How do the the conferences compare?
Firstly, I think there’s little value in having a which is better review – it’s important to remember that SMX Advanced in Seattle is an established and very highly-regarded conference in the US – and while SMX London is one of the leading search conferences in the UK, I think it’s fair to say that this is still largely developing in comparison, with 2010 beginning its first year as an advanced conference.
Starting with London, many people were eagerly anticipating the new advanced format. If I’m being brutally honest, not all sessions quite lived-up to the title (as is expected for its first year), but overall the conference didn’t disappoint. While SMX London still has a way to go in order to attract the very top speakers and overall quality of the US, it’s refreshing to see so many sessions from a UK market perceptive and there were plenty of tips, takeaways and presentations during the two days which made this event more than worthwhile and a “must-attend” conference again in the UK for 2011.
From my point of view and almost looking at this from the outside (or at least UK), SMX Advanced is one of the few conferences which appears to rival PubCon in its reputation as one of the world’s top search marketing conferences. Most of us Brits are likely to visit one conference a year at the most in the US, so I was really hoping this would live up to expectations. It did!
The conference started well, providing high quality sessions and advanced concepts and ideas. But for the SEO track this really got into gear during the afternoon of day one, starting with a superb link building session, quickly followed up with a great session on social media tools and then ending the day with Danny Sullivan’s superb Q&A session with Matt Cutts and the announcement of caffeine. Day one alone made this a worthwhile journey and day two followed a similar trend, keeping me very busy since with re-writing client strategy documents (largely based on content and ideas from both SMX conferences) and giving several excellent reasons to come back again next year.
As expected the best tips are those you pick up in the bar after a beer or three and there’s a very good reason these type of things are left unsaid at conferences, unfortunately the same applies here too!
SMX London is always a great event for everyone in the UK to get together and meet a few new faces, while Seattle was great to finally meet lots of people from the US, previously known from the online world of Sphinn and Twitter. SMX London is always good for networking, but judging these on the hangover scale I would have to say Seattle was far more eventful – even if slightly painful in mornings!