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SMX Advanced SEO Overview & Highlights

Have you ever heard of SMX, the Search Marketing Expo that’s held each year on the West Coast? Well once again this year, Strathcom has sent me to visit, learn, and mingle with some of the superstars in the industry at this year’s event.

So welcome to my tech travelogue, where you’ll be able to live vicariously through my latest travels and learn all about what happens in the the wild world of SEO, and how that will come to affect your dealership’s ranking in the ever-so-important Google search results.

Part I: Overview & Highlights from SMX Advanced

Having attended SMX West last year in San Jose, California, I was more than ecstatic to be attending SMX Advanced in Seattle, Washington at the Bell Harbour Conference Centre this June. And since I learned so much and took plenty of inspiration from last year’s event, I could hardly wait to hit up the advanced sessions.

What I brought back is lots to share about many different SEO topics. Way too much, in fact, to stuff into one blog post. So instead, get ready to read the introduction to what will be the first of a handful of posts on SEO for dealerships over the next few months.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s get started!

Local SEO Advanced U Workshop

Typically you aren’t supposed to get your dessert first, but the first day of the conference was actually an extra special add on: the Local Advanced U workshop. This session was geared to help SEOs to boost their brick and mortar small businesses and help them to rank and market themselves locally online. For the car dealerships we specialize in seriving at Strathcom Media, this is what we are trying to achieve—to be the best in our local geographic area.

In the workshop we heard from SEO stars such as Rand Fishkin from Moz, Jade Wang from Google, and many other experts in local SEO.


In the evening I attended a rooftop meet and greet conference kick-off and ran into many different automotive SEOs across Canada and the United States. We all decided to go for dinner and had a great time talking about the automotive industry and technology over fresh fish at a restaurant called Local 360. All of their food and drink comes from within 360 miles of the restaurant.


Search Marketing Expo Advanced Day 1

On Day 2, the beginning of the actual conference, I attended sessions on

  • 2014’s Periodic Table of Ranking Factors. Search ranking factors that influence results were discussed.
  • Keyword research and using tools that can help us find the quickly vanishing keyword data due to Google’s “Not Provided” change.
  • Local, social, and mobile solutions were also discussed. Mobile was a huge topic at this years session. If you haven’t started a mobile strategy for your websites, then you are quickly falling behind.
  • Always one of the best sessions of the conference is the Q&A’s with Matt Cutts, the head of Google Web Spam. During the session, Matt Cutts and Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land threw out stuffed penguins, pandas, and hummingbirds, mascots of their most popular anti-spam algorithim updates. Check out the video below. Matt Cutts also did a demonstration on how their Google Now is becoming more conversational. Check out the 2nd video below.  At this Q&A, he announced that an update of the Pay Day Loans would launch the next day.

After all the sessions ended there were two awesome networking events: Janes of Digital, a celebration of women in search and digital, and then SMX After Dark, the ever-so-famous SMX night party hosted by Microsoft Bing. Both were hosted at the Seattle Aquarium while 800 fish watched us party it up. (During the Question and Answer period with Matt Cutts from Google, he mentioned he thought Bing was an adequately fine search engine. This was a running inside joke during the rest of the conference whenever anyone mentioned Bing). But for being a fine search engine, they sure know how to host a party. There were games of Go Fish, an Instagram picture printer (if you used the hashtag #SMXBING, a little printer would automatically print your picture), a very talented magician, glow sticks lighting up fruity cocktails, champagne, and a whole lot of prizes. What a fun night!

Search Marketing Expo Advanced 2

The next morning, tired SEOs and SEMs arose to attend even more fabulous and informative sessions.

  • Microsoft was part of a keynote address on their new predictive search called Cortana. Cortana is similar to Siri on an Apple iPhone, or Google Now on Android, but is for Windows phones.
  • Advanced Technical SEO issues were discussed: how to deal with complex databases, product inventory pages, canonicals, and more.  A lot that was discussed has already been implemented on Strathcom clients websites. Huzzah for us!
  • Not Provided no-keyword data was discussed again and how to better track SEO efforts. SEO isn’t just about keywords on a website. It’s about properly marketing your website online in creative ways. A huge part of SEO is analyzing the data that comes in through Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics, as well as through other tools. How can we better analyze our data to understand what needs to be done next on a site, and how to better track conversions and ROI.
  • I quite enjoy all Keynote or Q&A sessions as they are interactive and you never know what will be discussed. There was an Ask the SEOs session where anyone could ask SEO questions to a team of SEOs who have been at it since the 90s! Yes, SEO, has been around that long, but back then it was being done only by a small percentage of people.

The conference then ended off with bowling, billiards, drinks and food at a local pub called The Garage.

Stay Tuned…

SMX has done it again; they have entertained me, educated me, and kept me on my toes in this quickly changing industry.

And now that our Seattle tech tavelogue is complete, stay tuned over the next few weeks for a series of posts on specific key takeways in local SEO, technical SEO, and tracking your SEO.

Event Recap, Search Marketing Expo (SMX)

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