SMX Advanced Preview

I love the SMX search conferences. They’re fun, they’re informative, and I get to spend time with people that I really like.

Here’s what I’m most looking forward to:SMX Advanced Preview

You&A with Matt Cutts

5:00 – 6:00 PM Tuesday

The Matt Cutts / Danny Sullivan one on one is the most fun and informative session of the year. And they’ve added an extra 15 minutes to what used to be a 45 minute session.

“We don’t tell you what to do, you can do whatever you want to, it’s your site. But we can do whatever we want to on our site to best serve our users.” — Matt CuttsSMX Advanced 2010 (paraphrased)

Danny: Do you still get that boost if you buy AdSense? Matt: Aargh!! — SMX Advanced 2010

Marty Madness

9:00 – 10:15 AM, 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM Tuesday

Worried that jet lag or exhaustion will stop you from enjoying the first sessions? Fear not. Marty Weintraub is speaking in each of the first two time slots: Hardcore Social Tactics and Surviving Personalization.

“Use Facebook to target businesses. Raise your hand if you have a Facebook account. Raise your hand if you have a job. See …” — Marty Weintraub, SMX Israel 2012

Ask the SEOs

3:00 – 4:15 PM Wednesday

Ask the SEOs is always a fun session. The top SEOs let loose answering questions and bantering. The Wall Street Journal’s Alex Bennert recently joined the regulars: Vanessa Fox, Bruce Clay, Greg Boser, Rae Hoffman-Dolan and Todd Friesen. This is the session where you get the best interaction between the experts, and the best feel for what’s really true today.

“I can’t wait until my daughter is in college so I can get my hands on her edu account. We chose her college based on domain value.” — Greg Boser, Ask the SEOs, SMX Advanced 2009

“My biggest waste of time the past few years? Optimizing for Yahoo.” — Rae Hoffman-Dolan, Ask the SEOs, SMX East 2010

Historic tidbit: The Ask the SEOs session was introduced in 2009, replacing a “Give it up” session that some argued was too black hat.

Maile & Vanessa on Pagination & Canonical URLs

It started at the Vanessa Fox portion (advanced technical SEO) of last year’s SMX West with a smackdown between Maile Ohye from Google and Marshall Simmonds from About.com / New York Times. Marshall said it was OK to canonical all pages of an article back to the article’s main page. Maile said no. Punches were thrown (OK, maybe not). Maile: “Believe me, if the page isn’t a subset of the other, it’s a signal. You can believe him or you can believe me, who was talking to our indexing people the other day.” Marshall (whom Danny once called the poster child of SEO success) didn’t back down, implying that it worked for them.

A few months later at SMX East Maile announced a new Google feature, a pagination tag, to do what Marshall wanted.

Now Maile and Vanessa Fox return, with Adam Audette and Jeff Carpenter, to explain how it all works now.

Authority Building

1:45 – 3:00 PM Tuesday

SEO is increasingly about authority. And Eric Enge is a great speaker.

“We gave SEO training seminar to government webmasters, got lots of links from USA.gov. And they paid costs and speaking fee.” — Eric Enge, SMX Advanced 2011 (paraphrased)

“We contacted Boston.com and Washington Post, and asserted that we had authority. Sometimes we did, sometimes we didn’t. We got links or article placements.  — Eric Enge, SMX Advanced 2011 (paraphrased)

Authorship & Schema

10:45 AM – Noon Wednesday

An increasingly important area, especially as Google’s Knowledge Graph plays a larger role.

SEO & Social Power Tools

3:30 – 4:45 PM Tuesday

Michael King, Merry Morud, Rhea Drysdale. Can’t miss.

“When you interact with people on Twitter don’t use the same account that you use to Tweet SEO articles. That’s like trying to pick up a girl while holding a book called How to Be a Pickup Artist.” — Michael KingSMX Israel 2012

The Bing Keynote

9:00 – 10:00 AM Wednesday

Truth is, this session has been hit or miss. Usually miss. Usually just an annual reminder that last year when Microsoft said it got it’s act together regarding search it was wrong. In each of the six years of SMX Advanced, Microsoft has brought in a new search executive to give the keynote. They were MSN, then Live, and now Bing. They were the search engine that gave you cash back. Then they were a Decision Engine. They had a great keynote in 2010 with Yusuf Mehdi but now he’s off heading the XBox division. This year it’s Derrick Connell. Derrick was a C programmer on the London stock exchange before joining Microsoft in 92, leading MSN Europe, and later helping to launch Bing. Now he’s in charge of Bing. Let’s see what you got, Derrick.

“How many of you have used Bing?” (a lot of hands) “Oh, how many of you haven’t used Bing?” (about 5 hands) (To Bing’s Qi Lu: ) “OK, so you’re spending $80 billion to convince him.” — Danny Sullivan, SMX Advanced 2010

“My 8-year-old daughter wrote a list of all her friends using Bing, and all her friends using that other search engine. ” [He showed us the list; he has a copy framed at work.] “My daughter said to me “Daddy. We have a lot of work to do.” — Yusuf MehdiSMX Advanced 2010

@toddmintz: Playing Talking Heads “Road To Nowhere” before Microsoft keynote…incredible symbolism at play :) [hat tip: Lisa Barone]

There’s also a Monday evening meet & greet, a Tuesday night party at the aquarium, and a post-conference bowling party.

I hope to see you there.

Don’t have tickets? The show is sold out, but you still have the following options:

  • SMX Workshop passes are still available. Attend in-depth workshops on June 7th – check them out here.
  • Network passes are $99 for those who register online before June 4 ($150 on-site). Take a look at the pass benefits.
Can’t make it to Seattle?
  • Follow the conference on Twitter (#smx)
  • Read our live blogging and Best of SMX Advanced (coming June 5th & 6th).

Related tidbits:

  • The pre-conference Meet & Greet is on the 5th anniversary of the SMX conference series. Though one review of that conference wondered if that first SMX Advanced “damaged brand Danny” (in hindsight: no) most reviews were favorable. Karl Ribas wrote “Never before have I seen so many Googlers at one conference. Yahoo! and MSN also had a stronger presence than I’ve seen in the past. You really got the feeling that the search engines were interested in knowing what thoughts, ideas, suggestions, and opinions this group had bring to the table.” (Community tip: Starting the SMX conference series with an intimate gathering of advanced SEOs and search engine reps was a masterstroke.)
  • The Seattle Mariners are out of town, which is OK, since I hear Ken Griffey Jr. retired. And my wonderful wife is taking me to ballgames in three other cities this trip.
  • Seattle has a great Kosher vegan restaurant and SMX is excellent regarding special meal needs.

See you there!