As the solo in-house SEO for Fatwallet, it is important that I keep up with the constant changes of the industry. My two staple conferences have been SESNY and Pubcon Vegas. Last spring I was toying with the idea of attending Pubcon South instead of SES when Danny Sullivan told me to skip both and go to SMX Advanced. I decided to go to New York. Big mistake. SES sucked, and the SMX Advanced conference was blessed with the nofollow pagerank evaporation announcement.
This year, I made my first trip to Seattle for SMX Advanced. I’m glad I did, and here’s why.
The name of the conference says it all. Is it REALLY advanced? Not incredibly, but a rookie SEO would likely be overwhelmed. The tactics, research, and advice given by the experts* are often fresher, and in better alignment with current Internet trends than the typical link begging advice found in the fluff at the other conferences. Sure there were sessions, and speakers that were arrogant, stale, or just plain full of suck, but for the most part every session I attended had at least two takeaways Ð even if the takeaway was just a reminder or a priority changer.
** Experts: I’ve come to the hypothesis that only 40% of the speakers at any given conference are actual experts on their topic. While roughly 25% of the audience is an expert on the topic of the session they’re attending.
I won’t go into crazy details here as there are plenty of roundups and blogs covering the best info, but here are a few bullet points.
# Google still doesn’t want your search results pages in the SERPS. Noindex them.
# Max, from Brafton, looks just like Jacob from the Twilight movies (not that I’ve seen them or anything)
# Facebook is the new Wikipedia. Build optimized social content. Fans will be the ranking factor
# Google CAN* crawl and index a page and have updated SERPs within an hour of the crawl.
** CAN: Sixth grade logic here folks – ‘can’ means that it is possible. It doesn’t mean your site is going to get the ‘limo to the airport’ service.
Direct & Accurate Interpretation
Being there, in person, to interpret statements and advice accurately is priceless – especially when those statements are coming from the mouth of Matt Cutts. One of my favorite things to do when Matt Cutts is talking is to follow twitter to see what all the parrot tweets are talking about. It reminds me of that game we used to play in Kindergarten where we’d all line up and the teacher would tell a secret to the person and one end. Everyone shares it with his or her neighbor until the last person receives something completely different than the teacher originally told.
Example: Matt Cutts is on stage and makes the statement, “Sometimes I pee when I laugh”
The resulting tweets would likely be:
“Matt Cutts wears diapers #smx”
“Laugh & Pee to rank better on google”
“Did Matt Cutts just use the word ‘pee’?”
“Buy cialis online http://bit.ly/asdflj #smx #justinbieber #thatswhatshesaid”
When Matt originally announced the pagerank evaporation statement, the interpretations and theories were WAY out there. This year, with caffeine, same thing. Matt is typically very careful with his choice of words. Unfortunately many people who repeat his words change things around.
Food is part of the conference right? I’m normally a fan of skipping conference lunch at least ONE day to check out local eateries, especially with SESNY (which has crap food anyway.) But mother of God, the food at SMX was downright impressive. The boxed lunches of the other conferences have a LONG way to go to catch up to SMX. For the record, I would gladly pay a higher admission for better food.
Overall, my experience at SMX Advanced was fantastic. The content was great, as were the nightly gatherings. I am definitely adding it to my ‘must attend’ list. I’m hoping that the upcoming BlueGlass LA will rock this July.