SMX London 2008 – Day 1 Session 1
Well it’s that time of year again and SMX London has rolled in to town, complete with most of the usual familiar faces (Chris Sherman is chairing, the lovely Vanessa Fox is in attendance – sadly no sign of Danny Sullivan…) and all the usual gubbins. I’ve been taking copious notes in the sessions I’ve been to so far, so let’s have a look at who has been talking this morning. Note: Unlike the SMX Social I attended last year in New York, this SMX is more wide-ranging and features three ‘tracks’ – in other words, I can’t attend all the sessions. So what we will be covering is just a small selection of what is actually on offer. That being said, on with the notes…
Session one is the keynote for the morning, and features talks from Zhao Hui and Nathan Buggia, both of Microsoft. Zhao covers the SEM side of search marketing, and his presentation includes a guided tour of the Microsoft Live Keyword Analysis tool which integrates in to Excel. The highlight for me was the ‘commercialisation’ score (forgive me if I got that wrong, it’s called something along those lines!) which scores a keyword based on the commercial intent it implies. So the keyword ‘iPod’ might have a commercial score of 45%, whereas a keyword such as ‘Buy iPod London’ might have a score of 75%. Interesting stuff.
Following on from Zhao was his colleague Nathan, who looks after more of the SEO type stuff, and this was obviously the much more interesting part of the session for me. Nathan gave a tour of the fairly new Microsoft Live Search webmaster center. Being a bit of a cynic, my first reaction on seeing what I shall hence-forth refer to as the MLSWC was ‘wow, Microsoft are soooo behind Google, this is totally old news’. But to be fair to Nathan and his team, they’ve actually added in some really interesting tools which Google haven’t got round to yet. The features I liked in the MLSWC include:
– A tool which tells you which of the many out-going links from your site are linking to sites with associations with Malware. This then allows you to remove these potentially killer links and should keep everyone happy!
– A tool for highlighting areas of your site’s SEO campaign which Microsoft considers ‘spam’, plus a form to allow you to tell Microsoft once you have corrected these issues.
– The site crawler which lists details for all your pages allows you to filter certain sub-directories of sub-domains, to let you explore in even more detail. Nice addition!
– Keyword density checks allow you to type in any keyword you can think of, and Microsoft will present you with an ordered list of the pages on your site which it considers to be most relevant to that keyword.
The session was very interesting, and ended with a few questions from moderator Chris Sherman – including a notable comment about Mobile search and whether it will EVER truly become the issue it’s hyped to be (answer – not sure!). Nathan’s top tip when asked was ‘Build something that people want’ – obvious maybe, but still something people could do with abiding by.
When the questions inevitably turned to the credit crunch, both Microsoft speakers boldly claimed that the world of search is ‘recession proof’, with Nathan citing a report from this week which notes the drop in spend on display advertising. Both speakers were asked to give their vision for search in 5 years time, though Nathan was very cagey and when pressed admitted that he had to word his answer carefully so as not to give away any Microsoft secrets. But what he did reveal is the vague assertion that “Search will be a richer experience, and we will look back on the days of 10 blue links with hazy fondness”.
Session 2 of Day one will follow shortly…