Here’s your exclusive insider look of SMX West

TL;DR: Here’s my epic 3,000-word preview of all the sessions, speakers and networking you’ll experience at SMX West. Read a little or read it all. Then register by 11:59pm Saturday, December 22 and save big with Early Bird rates. Search Engine Land’s SMX® West, the go-to event for search marketers, returns to San Jose January 30-31. […]

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TL;DR: Here’s my epic 3,000-word preview of all the sessions, speakers and networking you’ll experience at SMX West. Read a little or read it all. Then register by 11:59pm Saturday, December 22 and save big with Early Bird rates.

Search Engine Land’s SMX® West, the go-to event for search marketers, returns to San Jose January 30-31. The agenda, packing more than 50 world-class speakers, teaches you actionable search marketing tactics you can implement immediately to drive more awareness, traffic and conversions. If you work in SEO, SEM, content marketing, social media or any other customer-facing activity, you can’t afford to miss it!

SMX West features three tracks of expert-led sessions that cover:

  • Search marketing topics including search advertising (PPC/SEM), SEO, technical SEO, analytics and more.
  • Proven actionable tactics you can use immediately to improve your campaigns.
  • All experience levels, from beginner to advanced.

Register by Saturday, December 22 to secure your pass and take advantage of Early Bird rates!

Compelling keynote speakers

SMX West kicks off with a keynote from Google’s Search & Assistant team, Age Of Assistance. The talk will take you on a roller coaster ride from where we are today to what the future holds, including how future tech that is already here is having a significant impact on marketing campaigns.

In addition, Microsoft will present a forward-looking discussion on the recent developments at Bing on both the SEO and SEM fronts. In The Quest For Intelligent Search, you’ll get an update on how Bing is creating more intelligent search answers and a preview of technical initiatives such as crawling, indexing and AMP. You’ll also hear about innovative new advertising tools from Microsoft that emphasize easy integration and automation.

Dive Right In: SEO & SEM Sessions – Wednesday, January 30

1The brave new world of SEO
Gone are the days when SEO was about tweaking on-page elements or building links. There’s much more to effective SEO today, especially given the advent of machine learning and massive algorithmic shifts. We’ve got you covered with SEO sessions that ensure optimal organic rankings.

  • We kick off with Machine vs. Man: What Really Matters For SEO Success, a wide-ranging discussion of the critical factors that matter today. You’ll learn about ranking factors, on-and-off page signals that search engines use to determine relevance, what search quality raters consider and much more.
  • Google says that more searches are conducted on mobile devices today than on desktop, so it’s now using the mobile version of the web as its primary search engine index. Even if you don’t have a mobile site, you need to be aware of the factors Google considers important. Your SEO efforts must begin with understanding the difference between mobile first indexing and mobile friendly SEO. Though linked at the hip, they are not the same. In Mobile First Indexing & Mobile Friendly SEO, you’ll learn the differences between these two concepts, as well as how to construct a mobile friendly site for search engines that delivers exceptional user experiences for your human visitors.

The clinic is open!
Bring your burning questions to a panel of experts ready with answers and advice! The 100% Q&A SEO Site Clinic is your chance to speak directly and openly with the SMX experts you know and trust. There are no presentations. No PowerPoints. Raise your hand, take the mic, and ask your questions. Our panelists will take turns sharing their opinions and advice. Attend the SEO site clinic for…

  • Insights from knowledgeable speakers.
  • Live audits of your website, content and campaigns.
  • Custom recommendations of tools and platforms.
  • Specific pointers and advice.

The latest in technical SEO
Over the years, Google has become better at crawling, understanding and indexing dynamic websites. But there are still situations where GoogleBot can’t index content within JavaScript, leading to poor rankings. Google recently released an SEO workaround, called dynamic rendering, that supports modern sites with JavaScript and sites that have a strong social media presence.

  • Google’s New Dynamic Rendering Workaround: A Must For JavaScript-Heavy Sites dives into the promise and reality of dynamic rendering. You’ll learn how to implement this new process of switching between client-side rendering and pre-rendered content.
  • A site redesign is often seen as a golden opportunity to address known problems. However, radical strategic shifts can be risky; it’s hard to predict how users and search engines will react to them. You’ll leave Everything You Need To Know To Execute A Successful Site Migration with a comprehensive strategy for executing an error-free site migration that delivers all the benefits you expect with none of the headaches. Our experts will share hands-on advice and learnings from dozens of successful migrations.

Actionable & measurable SEM tactics
We also have SEM sessions that address everything from “pure” pay-per-click strategies and tactics to specific insights on integrating search ads into other marketing channels. Check out what’s in store:

  • In the past year, Google expanded the headlines and descriptions in standard text ads. More real estate, but do they deliver better results? Or just create complexity? Text Ad Reboot: How To Evaluate & Manage Your Current Options delivers best practices for evaluating the effectiveness and managing the choices text ads offer. Are three headlines more effective than two? Are two descriptions better than one? Our experts will answer these and more of your burning questions.
  • Just when you thought you had built the perfect campaign structure to silo inbound SEM traffic by match-type to meet your ROAS goals with perfectly tuned bids and ads, everything changed. Updates to Google Ads and Bing Ads matching rules have upended many time-tested and reliable account structures. In Starting Fresh With Match Types & Account Structures, you’ll get expert insights on the effectiveness of traditional account structures, how and when to consider a complete rebuild and what new hybrid account structures you should be considering to keep your campaigns competitive in the new world of SEM.
  • Creating successful ads used to be as simple as writing a great headline and two lines of text. Now with so many extensions, device adaptations, dynamic text, and other components, creating ads can seem more like an engineering challenge than a creative one. In Ad Testing In A Multi-Format World, you’ll get a deep dive into constructing, conducting and evaluating ad tests when you blend ad formats in groups. You’ll walk away with new approaches, best practices and the know-how to use timeless testing techniques to drive campaign success.
  • Audience targeting allows you to be precise in choosing who sees your ads and the bids for each group. In Getting Tactical With Google & Bing Audiences, you’ll learn to use advanced audience targeting to identify prospects and customers and maximize the ROI of your campaigns.
  • In today’s on-demand world, sales and marketing don’t follow the traditional funnel of guiding a customer from awareness to purchase. Rather, success means understanding that your prospects follow their own path and your campaigns need to accompany them. Aligning Your Marketing With Your Customer’s Journey explores how to get in step with your customer (and your team) as they follow their own paths from interest to engagement and conversion.

Yes, Virginia, There’s Another Whole Day: Thursday, January 31

2The art & science of SEO
We get it. It is a challenge to keep up with constant algorithm changes, the inexorable shift to mobile and tablet devices and an ever-increasing number of competitive websites appearing every day. Not to worry! Here’s a look at the SEO sessions that will prepare you for whatever comes:

  • Have you ever encountered a hairy SEO problem where all of your hard-won, proven experience just doesn’t seem to help? You won’t want to miss Solving Complex SEO Problems When Standard Fixes Don’t Apply. Our seasoned speakers will share the metrics that indicate significant SEO problems.
  • Enterprise SEOs face unique challenges — from working on multiple sites in multiple countries on multiple content management systems to managing a wide array of stakeholder interests — all the while protecting the integrity of the brand. In Enterprise SEOs, Unite!, our panel of big brand SEOs will deliver a much-needed sanity check along with the latest tactical and technical issues that are relevant to large website implementations.
  • Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Cortana are a new frontier for gaining visibility for your content on Internet Of Things devices. Learn emerging SEO techniques for these devices in Optimizing Content For Voice Search & Virtual Assistants. This session will explore how to optimize your content and user experience for a future in which half or more of all queries will be spoken.
  • With recent improvements in camera phones and search engine image feature detection capabilities, users are increasingly turning to visual search for finding products, planning travel and other activities. Optimizing for visual search can drive more traffic and significantly enhance user experience and conversion rates. Maximizing Visual Search Potential explores the important techniques to fully leverage visual search.
  • Local search requires different approaches for organic optimization, paid search and social media marketing efforts. With Leveraging The New Realities Of Local Search, you’ll get street-savvy tips from marketers who work on the ground daily. They’ll offer case studies highlighting successes — as well as failures and hard-won lessons learned — from working in a constantly changing landscape where both true competitors and local search providers like Yelp and Google can derail even the most carefully implemented local search campaign.

More SEM strategies and tactics for you performance marketers
Take a look at what SEM sessions are in store for Thursday, January 31:

  • From branding to content marketing to performance marketing, companies are finding success with Facebook and YouTube ads. In Driving Sales with Advanced Facebook & YouTube Tactics, you’ll learn about audience development and targeting, creative options, measurement and reporting. The actionable information shared will help you generate qualified leads and conversions from Facebook and YouTube.
  • If you sell online, taking advantage of Amazon’s merchant services is a no-brainer. But did you know that Amazon is now the third largest online ad platform? Attend Leveraging Amazon Ads & Other Product Marketplace Opportunities for tactics and best practices to leverage Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, Product Display Ads as well as Amazon’s other advertising offerings. You’ll also gain an understanding of the broader e-commerce marketplace landscape and where our expert speakers see future opportunities.
  • It’s not enough to be brilliant with your own SEM efforts. You also need to know what your competitors are up to. That means identifying their keywords, landing page and quality score strategies and campaign management practices. In short, you need to know everything they’re doing to enhance their visibility and diminish yours. Attend Competitive Analysis: Inside Out & Outside In to discover how easy it is to apply the time-tested techniques of competitive intelligence to your SEM campaigns to sharpen your marketing edge.
  • When it comes to feedback and opinions on your ad campaigns, there’s no shortage of advice from a multitude of sources. Sadly, all too often these recommendations contradict one another. The Who You Gonna Trust? SEM Expert Roundtable discussion will give you a candid look at what’s working, what’s not and how to evaluate your options.

Solutions Track

3All of the 20+ SEO and SEM sessions I’ve described above are editorial sessions. People are speaking on them because we feel they have great information to offer. No one bought their way onto a panel. But we also recognize that our many sponsors also have great information to share. That’s why we provide a platform for you to hear from them.
The Solutions Track features sessions led by our sponsoring companies. These companies know they are competing with our editorial sessions for your attention, so they’re highly motivated to deliver great information and value. Check out the Solutions track for full-length presentations from brands including Adthena, Botify, Bruce Clay Inc., Instapage, Purelinq, Stone Temple, Quora, and Uberall.

Still want more? Attend a full-day workshop for immersive search marketing training

4The SMX West agenda offers a ton of valuable learning opportunities — but that just isn’t enough for some attendees. That’s why we offer a full day of post-conference training designed to take your search marketing to the next level.
Workshops, held Friday, February 1, offer a deep level of hands-on, immersive training that you won’t find anywhere else.

Our Search Marketing Boot Camp is perfect for beginners looking to get a foothold on the basics. Fundamental sessions include:

  • Keyword Research & Copywriting For Search Success
  • Link Building Fundamentals
  • Paid Search Fundamentals
  • Search Engine Friendly Web Design

The Search Marketing Boot Camp is available for just $549 if you register by December 22 — if you want to brush up on SEO and SEM basics, now’s the time to take the leap. In addition to the workshop sessions, you’ll get access to breakfast, lunch, refreshment breaks and a Certificate of Completion if you attend each individual boot camp session. Upgrade to an All Access pass if you want to unlock the complete SMX experience, including all sessions, keynotes, clinics, networking, and amenities.

Looking for some more intermediate or advanced training? Choose from one of four in-depth workshops:

These workshops also include breakfast, lunch and refreshment breaks. Bundle your workshop with an All Access pass for maximum value! You’ll save up to $600 off on-site rates if you register by December 22.

Networking with like-minded peers

5SMX West brings together the most accomplished search marketers in the world, and we provide plenty of social networking activities for you to connect with them:

  • Our SMX Facebook Group will allow you to connect with other attendees and speakers before, during and after the conference.
  • All Access pass holders get more out of lunch than just hot, delicious meals. We invite you to sign up for one of our Birds of a Feather lunch tables for topic-driven discussion about specific areas of search. These tables provide a rich opportunity to continue the conversation with others who share your interests. We’ll post a schedule and topic list several weeks prior to the conference and you can reserve your spot online.
  • The Networking Reception will be held the evening of Wednesday, January 30. It’s the perfect opportunity to mingle with peers and speakers while enjoying cocktails and snacks.
  • We’re also hosting two community meetups Wednesday, January 30: Enterprise SEO for In-Housers and Technical SEO for Developers. These meetups offer you the opportunity to connect with like-minded marketers on the issues that matter most to you. Stay tuned for more details!

Don’t take our word for it…

You’ve just read 3,000+ words on what you’ll get at SMX West and why we think it’s worth the investment. Now, check out what some of our past attendees have to say about their time at SMX:

“Lots of great information. I came away with solid action items to implement on our site that will improve our search ranks. It was invaluable to our business!” — Amy O’Brien, Yankee Publishing Inc.

“Great opportunity to cross train our team and share knowledge with industry peers.” — Jennifer Barry, DragonSearch

Check out even more testimonials.

Pick Your Ideal Pass & Register Now

We offer a variety of pass options based on your goals and budget:

  • All Access Pass: The complete conference experience — all sessions, keynotes, clinics, networking events, and amenities. Book now and save $300 off on-site rates!
  • All Access + Workshop Pass (best value!): Maximize your time by adding a full-day post-conference workshop to your agenda. Book now and save $600 off on-site rates!
  • Networking Pass: Perfect if you’re on a tight budget. You’ll unlock sponsored sessions, keynotes, networking, WiFi — even hot meals and refreshments — all for just $399 ($200 off on-site rates!).

I hope you’ve found this preview useful and that you’ll be joining us in San Jose. We guarantee you’ll walk away with at least one actionable tactic that will help your team drive real results.

See you in San Jose!

Psst… Remember to register by December 22 to take advantage of Early Bird rates! Prefer to register by phone? Call (877) 242-5242 to get started!

Contributing authors are invited to create content for Search Engine Land and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the search community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

Chris Sherman
Chris Sherman (@CJSherman) is a Founding editor of Search Engine Land and is now retired.

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