This post was authored by Jessica Bowman, SMX West presenter and leader for the In-house SEM Exchange taking place March 5th.
Search Marketing Expo is pulling out all the stops when it comes to meeting the needs of in-house search marketers in Santa Clara March 2-5. Attend and you’ll leave with more than enough ideas, strategies and contacts to keep you ahead of the curve and connected with colleagues until next year.
The agenda is full of valuable SEM nuggets, so it’s difficult to say there is one “dream” agenda. It depends on the challenges you’re facing this year. I’ll preview the sessions I think most in-housers should attend and why. Check out the compete agenda here.
Monday, March 1st
SMX kicks off with the “SMX Meet & Greet” on Monday March 1st at 6pm. This is typically small and full of speakers. If there is a speaker you want to meet, this is the best place to do that. The night before the show, everyone’s on a “conference high” and ready to talk.
Tip #1: At the end of each day’s scheduled activities, the Hyatt bar will be full of search marketers. Come hang out. You’ll meet amazing people and get the best information!
Tuesday, March 2nd
Tuesday’s sessions kick off with Steve Ballmer’s keynote. No one should miss the opportunity to here Steve talk about what’s next for Bing.
The conference sessions ramp up at 10:45. For the search marketing newbies, you’ll find the Keyword Research & Tools session helpful. Those looking at what’s next and how to get to the next level will want to catch the Real Time Search & Major Search Engines session. If you have mobile search interests, there is a Mobile PPC session also competing with this slot.
After lunch there is the copywriting session that you’ll find especially interesting if you write SEO copy or train writers who do. You’ll get many ideas from this session’s speakers, Heather Lloyd-Marting and Jill Whalen, two of the first search marketers to focus on copywriting. Also competing with this slot is a mobile search session; if that is up your alley, one of the speakers is Michael Martin, a fellow in-houser at Resource Nation who will be speaking at the In-house Exchange. For the PPC in-housers, there is a session about new Google formats that’s not to be missed.
Tuesday afternoon gets really juicy! At 3pm, choose from Google’s Personalized Search Revolution or Ranking Tactics for Local Search. Personalized search is changing things dramatically and this session will be packed. If you deal with brick-and-mortar locations Rankings Tactics for Local Search is for you.
Tuesday at 4:30 there will be a myriad of different topics. The session I find most interesting is Supercharge Your Descriptions with Sitelinks; anything you can do to get more eyeballs on a listing has a chance to increase the value SEO adds to the bottom line. In-housers active in social media marketing should attend The Current State of Social Search session, where you’ll get great statistics for supporting your social media business case.
At 5:45 the Expo Hall Reception has drinks and appetizers courtesy of Ask.com. Then it’s time for dinner!
Tip #2: After happy hour, a bunch of in-house folks are connecting for dinner. It’s not on the official agenda, so it’s usually fairly small and intimate like the In-house Exchange. For details contact Emily [at] seoinhouse dot com.
Right after dinner everyone is heading to “SMX After Dark”, the biggest party of the show. It’s sponsored by Bing, who always throws memorable parties.
Wednesday, March 3rd
The morning kicks off with the crowning of the SMX Biggest Search Geek. More than 1000 people participated in the contest this year, so winning is a big deal! Last year’s winner was in-house SEO Keri Morgret, who’s speaking at SMX West this year and local to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Bring your IT department if you can swing it, even if it is only one lead programmer or technical product manager. The “Technical SEO Track” happens on Wednesday and hearing SEO needs from the experts at this conference can be invaluable.
Don’t miss Diagnosing Technical SEO Issues. Vanessa Fox usually points you to a checklist for diagnosing technical problems (ask her about it if she doesn’t talk about it). For the PPCers, the Paid Search Bullseye! session looks like a good way to reach and close your ultimate customer, i.e. how to get more qualified people to your site so you can reduce your spend.
After lunch, the 90-Day SEM Fitness Plan is a good choice for companies new to search marketing, especially if you don’t have a solid 2010 plan together already. For those dealing with technical issues related to URLs, the session Dealing With Domains, Parameters & All That Jazz is right up your alley. For the PPC’ers, you’ll love Search Meet Display; Display Meet Search.
At 3:15, enterprise level SEOs will benefit from Industrial Strength SEO. Fellow in-housers Dave Lloyd (Cisco) and Marshall Simmonds (New York Times) are on that panel. They always give great presentations.
The last slot of the day has two highly recommended sessions – 60 Minutes Per Day for Social Media Success and The Need For Speed: Google Says It Matters. Now that page load times will officially impact rankings, this is the stuff you need to forward to your IT department. If you are lucky enough to have your IT person attend on Wednesday, send them to this session. The social media session is very useful because it will show you how to do social media effectively in very little time – a big challenge for most in-housers.
Thursday, March 4th
This day kicks off with The State of The Search Union, an interesting commentary on what’s going on in the industry. Grab your morning beverage of choice and take a peek at the future.
For In-housers, the first 2 sessions are just for you!
At 10am, we have a great lineup that will talk about various aspects of doing in-house SEO, from salaries and job titles to getting things up and running for in-house SEO.
At 11am we have a similar session for PPC. Get salary data, job descriptions and information for starting your PPC program in-house.
Other morning sessions to consider are the Ask the Engines at 11:30, Mystery Search Science Theater, and the SEO and PPC clinics.
After lunch, I recommend Analytics Action Plans for PPC & SEO. Demonstrating results is vital these days. And with budgets getting cut, you need to know how to slice-and-dice your numbers to illustrate the results you’ve achieved.
The last session of the show has goodies too, including Ask the Link Builders and The Conversion Ninja Toolbox. If you’re dealing with reputation management issues, you should check out the Social Media, Search & Reputation Management. If Twitter is your thing, the Twitter Clinic is a practical choice because they’ll look at real examples and provide real-world critiques.
Friday, March 5th
Friday is workshop day. And the In-house SEM Exchange specific for in-house search marketers.
In-house SEM Exchange is an intimate environment of facilitated discussion. No pre-defined presentations, no vendors, no sales pitches. It’s the day where you can ask anything and detailed answers from people who have been there before, because they are doing search in-house!
Learn more about the In-house SEM Exchange.
Tip #3: Be sure to check out my handful of helpful tips for SMX West 2010.
I look forward to meeting you all there! If you haven’t already, here’s the link. Register now!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.