Interview with Chris Sherman about SMX London 2011
In 1,5 weeks time yet again a new conference season starts with SMX London 2011. This Advanced SMX, the only advanced in Europe, has a very interesting line up of speakers, amongst which some State of Search bloggers and for example Bing’s Cedric Chambaz, Christine Churchill, Yahoo’s Jon Myers and Stephen Pavlovich.
The keynote will be given by Chris Sherman, who as you might know also runs SMX together with Danny Sullivan. We talked to Chris Sherman about SMX London 2011, his keynote and the future of search.
SMX London 2011 starts in a few weeks. Could you let our readers know what makes SMX a must attend conference?
We live, eat and breathe search (well, maybe only eat and live it… :-). I’m very fortunate to be part of the Search Engine Land team, where we spend our days following the industry and staying on top of current news and trends. We try to go beyond simply reporting search marketing news, however, by analyzing what we see and offering tactical advice to our readers.
In many ways, SMX is the “live” version of Search Engine Land. We create the programs to reflect what we believe are the most important issues of concern to search marketers. And then we find some of the best, most creative practitioners in the field to speak at the conference. All of these people are highly respected within the industry, and offer insights and tactics in a concentrated dose that you can take away and put to work right away.
And then there’s the networking – a fantastic opportunity to rub shoulders with others in the community, sharing knowledge, discussing common issues and solutions to difficult problems – and just enjoying the company of like-minded people. You simply can’t get this type of immersion without attending the event itself.
You are keynoting SMX London yourself this year, what will you be talking about?
I’m doing a high-level overview of the “state of search,” talking about recent trends and developments and offering some predictions about where we’re going as an industry. I’m more optimistic about the potential and opportunities for search marketing than I have been in years – and I plan to share that optimism backed up by some pretty impressive data.
What makes SMX Advanced actually “Advanced”? How can people tell?
I think most experienced search marketers will recognize the topics covered as advanced by the way they’re described in the agenda. Apart from that, however, we’ve spent a lot of time making sure that all of the speakers we’ve selected are both experienced and really know their stuff in a way that they can communicate effectively to others. We require speakers to give us details about what they plan to speak about and why what they have to say is both advanced – and equally important, why it’s valuable information for attendees. We don’t allow product or service pitches – all presentations must be tactically focused and discuss techniques or tools that are accessible to attendees so they can personally benefit from the presentations.
Does SMX have a specific ‘theme’? Do specific subjects get more attention than others?
The two advanced shows (in London on May 16-17, and then on June 7-8 in Seattle) focus exclusively on advanced topics. Because of the level of the content they just aren’t appropriate for newcomers. Our two biggest shows, SMX East (New York, Sept 13-15) and SMX West (San Jose California, Feb 28 – Mar 1 2012) feature both basic and advanced content. With those shows, we try to achieve a balance of basic, intermediate and advanced content, with both enduring fundamentals and new and emerging trends and issues. Also, to a certain degree, the East show tends to be a bit more ad focused, while the West show is a bit more SEO focused. Because they’re big (three days with four or five tracks) they offer something for everyone.
Our international shows are like East and West – general shows with a mix of content, and most have at least some regional focus (for example, the Munich show is conducted mostly in German). Finally, we’re reinventing our specialized shows, starting with SMX SoLoMo, in Scottsdale, Arizona on December 5-6. This show will focus exclusively on the intersection of social media with local search and mobile. We think these three areas offer enormous potential for marketers, and are really excited about launching the show.
How does SMX try to stay as ‘up-to-date’ as possible? How can you respond to current events rapidly if for example Google launches a new service just a week before the conference?
As I mentioned, all of our speakers are seasoned professionals. We rely on them to adapt their presentations to news and new products and services. So even though things change rapidly in our industry, our speakers keep up to date and will almost always have current information in their presentations.
What do you think are the must-see sessions at SMX London?
That’s like asking which of my children is my favorite!
While I think they’ll all be great, I have a personal interest in a few, including SEO In 2011: What’s Working, What’s Not; Search Analytics & Competitive Intelligence and Refriending Google: Dealing With Penalties & Suspensions. Anyone working in search marketing in the UK and Europe should try to attend the Legal Update: ASA Compliance, Click Fraud, Privacy & More panel – though this one is opposite Extreme Makeover, The SEO Edition – where we challenged our speakers to take a small business or charity website from nowhere to top rankings in 3 months. More importantly, the speakers must “tell all” about how they did it – no secrets held back. This is going to be a really fun session.
How important is Europe for the SMX Conferences?
Europe is very important – it’s obviously a huge (and varied) economy where search marketing continues to grow quickly. Our SMX Munich show saw attendance double this year, and we expect increasing attendance in our London, Paris and Stockholm conferences as well.
Finally, when you prepare for SMX 2012 (so not this year but next), what will be the biggest change we’ve seen in a year time?
Google will have opened it’s first office on the moon. (kidding…:-)
Honestly, I don’t have a clue. Who could have predicted Google Instant – or the fallout from the Panda update? What I do know for sure is that I’ll still be a close observer of the industry and whatever that biggest change happens to be will be permeated through the agenda next year. That’s my job – and I look forward to it!