Promoted as targeting beginner to advanced participants, Search Marketing Expo (SMX) London happened on November 15-16 2007 to a 300-person strong crowd. Housed in the very nice Hilton London Metropole, SMX London was the first conference in the UK from the team of Danny Sullivan and Chris Sherman since forming Third Door Media in 2006.
Despite the large number of participants, SMX London 2007 retained the feel of a much smaller conference, enabling participants to meet and network with each other without being or feeling overwhelmed. With breaks between every session, networking was quite high on the agenda and many businesses concluded valuable deals.
As with all conferences, after-hours networking and information sharing was also central to SMX London with one overheard conversation dealing with an in-house SEO being helped by two other SEOs to better pitch for internal buy-in. The free flow of information both during and after the conference was staggering and many in-house and agency search marketers benefited from insider tips and tricks.
The dense schedule of fifteen sessions per day over two days was made manageable by the three track system which grouped together sessions in logical streams such as Paid Search or Case Studies or Beginners. Frequent breaks after long sessions also enabled longer opportunities to meet and network with speakers.
Despite being targeted at beginners and intermediate SEOs only, this conference did attract intermediate to advanced SEOs and SEMs. The sessions, while not too advanced, often failed to explain the basics to the novice user, sometimes citing examples well known within SEO communities but not outside them. Someone new to SEO hoping to learn and understand may have felt left behind (except by Lisa who was BRILLIANT!). This level of engagement was absolutely right for the bulk of the audience though.
The information revealed at the sessions ranged from the welcome refresher tips to some of the more complex, lesser known tactics often employed by industry experts. One session in the basic track actually covered some more advanced link building techniques. A session on paid search covered certain interesting PPC tactics which were not quite white hat . This conference covered information and topics which had many participants smiling knowingly or writing furiously. The information provided was often invaluable and available nowhere else.
One refreshing change was the lack of sales pitches. While previous large conferences of this type tended to have at least one sales pitch in every session on every day, SMX London 2007 refreshingly did not. With one exception, the sessions seemed sales pitch free which was also a welcome change from the norm.
Overall, SMX London 2007 was an impressive inaugural event. With its success in both attracting a more advanced audience, and delivering the relevant content to this audience, this event looks to have many successful years ahead of it.