SMW West 2008 – Fast Debrief

It’s the morning after SMX, and here are some impressions I had from the show;

  1. It was well attended and had a strong exhibitor presence. My guess is that it was a strong commercial success,
  2. The content was well structured and there were a lot of quality speakers. It seemed to me that there was a solid stable of the people who have been speaking at these events for many years, as well as a strong injection of newer speakers. It was a good mix.
  3. I focused on the blended search track on day 1, partly because I was on the images and blended search panel. A lot of goof content was presented during the day. Blended search is truly just beginning to roll out, and you can expect a lot of changes in it over the next few years.
  4. The keynote by Louis Monier on Wednesday was simply brilliant. He did a great job talking about the past, present, and future of search. I have to admit though, I am a sucker for any presentation by someone that has been with search from its very early days, and who focuses on providing insight into how the behavior of people affects the development and implementation of search engines.
  5. The SEO and Social Media session on Wednesday was really great. New speaker, Barbara Boser, did a great job breaking down to a fine level of detail the steps to becoming a social media guru. Michael Gray did a nice job highlighting how to use Twitter as a marketing tool. Rand Fishkin and Neil Patel both did their usual excellent jobs with their presentations.
  6. The most intriguing thing about the Search Engineers Q&A panel was that Danny prefaced the whole session by setting a ground rule that he did not want any questions about paid links in the session. He did note that there would be a panel on Thursday where that was more apporpriate.
  7. On Thursday, I finally met Jim Sterne who moderated the web analytics roundtable. Nice job by Gary Angel to provide an initial overview presentation. Then for the Q&A part of the session, Gary was joined by Wes Funk, Brett Crosby, and Richard Zwicky. High quality panel.
  8. Thursday was a great day as well. During the first link building panel on Thursday, Danny did allow paid link questions, but kept a tight reign on how heated the discussion got.

Speaking of paid links, personally one of the arguments I hear over and over again is that Google (and the other search engines) ought to find another algorithm for ranking result relevance. I can tell you one thing about that” Don’t hold your breath.

The search engines would love to have another way to do this. The link analysis algorithm saved the notion of search engines, and is still the most robust ranking signal available on the Internet. Yes, there is a problem with people manipulating it, but even with that, the most relevant results come from link analysis.

Link building will remain you most important priority in marketing a web site for the forseeable future.

Lastly, thanks to everyone that stoppped by and said hi to me. I really appreciated it. Also, my apologies to those of you who asked to meet me there, that I was not able to find. Hopefully, you will be at SES New York 2008, and we can meet there.

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