SMX is a series of digital marketing events, featuring high profile keynote speakers. We’re following this year’s June event, and we’ve gathered the highlights of the first day.

Search Marketing Expo (SMX) is one of the most prominent series of digital marketing events, normally taking place in different venues across the globe, including the US. This year, due to the new normality amid the COVID-19 pandemic, June’s event is virtual. We’re attending SMX next, and we’ve put together a comprehensive recap of day one. Let’s find out the hot topics the high-profile keynote speakers are talking about uring day one.  

We’ll split our highlights in 2 main pillars, SEM/PPC and SEO.


The day started with a presentation Ginny Marvin of Search Engine Land. She covered the value of quick reactions, strategic thinking, and planning, automation, and the best practices for success during uncertainty.

  • Our takeaway is that people who didn’t pull the plug from all their digital marketing efforts but decided to be proactive and adapted quickly to the normality have now a significant competitive advantage over others who decided to withdraw and just monitor.

Moving forward with the PPC agenda, we followed a session on the importance of call tracking for your success in SEM campaigns. We are in favor of such an approach, we believe in an even more holistic approach, preaching for conversions and call to action tracking. A few weeks ago, we prepared an article on CTA tracking, we’re sure you’ll love it.

After a small break with more SEO-central content, we were back with a topic we loved, Ad testing within the Google Ads platform. Mike Henderson explained the value of Ad testing and gave tips on how to improve your PPC campaigns.

  • Our takeaways are that landing pages are crucial for paid marketing (and you need to A/B test them), you should use testing to identify opportunities, and that you need to take control of your responsive search Ads.  

Then we moved to Smart bidding for Google Ads. In this session, we explored the reasons why you have to be careful with a smart bidding strategy. The main takeaway is that you need to manually work on your campaigns to add custom modifiers and exclude irrelevant data that can harm your efforts. This is a very important topic, especially during these uncertain times, as we can see unexpected spikes that can mislead your campaigns if you don’t pay the proper attention.

At the same time, a session on click fraud was going on. We had to watch this on replay (thumbs up SMX for that option), and we are strong supporters of the value of a click fraud prevention strategy. Alex Goldfarb gave actionable tips on how to identify and prevent the different types of click fraud. If you want to learn more, you can read our short and to the point article here

The last PPC-related topic of Day One was about an automated search strategy that can double your conversions and halve your CPA (cost per acquisition). This session included some technical aspects of Google Ads. More specifically BMM/Exact search campaign strategies. Our key takeaway is that you need to control intent to maximize your conversions, and ultimately ROI.

  • SEO

We kicked off the SEO related topics with a retrospective of previous Google Core Updates, leading to May 2020 Update. Barry Schwartz guided us through the history of updates with an eye to the future. By understanding the past, you increase your chances of following the right strategies and be ready for what’s next. Our main takeaway is that you can never rest assured with SEO, it’s a constant work in progress, and you have to avoid all grey areas as Google will eventually penalize you at some point.

In the next session, the iconic Bruce Clay guided us through his approach to SEO. What we keep from his presentation (and we preach it ourselves) is:

  •  SEO is an ongoing process and only stops when competition dies or Google stops changing its algorithms.
  • Cheap SEO can be a near-death experience. Don’t risk your organic traffic future for questionable results.
  • SEOs don’t make pigs fly, they make the most out of the tools you give them. For example, an old, broken website isn’t a solid foundation to work on.

Moving forward, we jumped in a more technical subject, Title Tag Optimization. Cyrus Shepard guided us through his approach and the reasons why he considers Title Tag Optimization such an important component of SEO. His message is to write compelling, unique, relevant titles that include keywords but avoid keyword stuffing, and always perform A/B testing.

The next keynote speaker, Holly Miller Anderson, covered the topic of understanding and fixing potential drops in Google ranking. Tip No. 1, don’t panic. Understand what happened and only then proceed to actions. Tip No. 2, use the right tools to identify changes and fix what’s needed. Tip No. 3, be strategic on your actions with a long-term vision.

The next session is probably our favorite SEO-related session of the day. The topic was all about link building, more precisely fantastic links, and where to get them. What do we single out from the keynote speaker? Your content matters, and it’s what will give you the most powerful links; create unique and original content that others want to read and share. Build relationships and connections via networking and outreach that will eventually help you with valuable links. Finally, as soon as you get links in authoritative venues, make the most out of them. For example, if you appeared on CNBC, make sure to share it and let people know.

The first day was wrapped up with two sessions for digital marketing professionals. The first one was a discussion with SEOs and their experience with Google Core Updates and was a conversation that followed the SEO-related opening session. The second one was about digital marketing careers and the skills professionals expect to be in demand.

That was it for the first day of SMX Next, we’ll be back with our recap of day two.