Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land's founding editor (not that he needs any introduction in search marketing circles) is getting geared up for SMX West, the next in his series of search marketing conferences spanning North America, Europe and Australia. SMX is known as one of the best conferences to marketers to learn the latest trends and tactics to improve their marketing performance.
I had a few questions for Danny Sullivan  about the upcoming event and the state of the search industry in general. Here’s what he had to say about the evolution of SMX and what marketers will need to focus on this year:
Danny Sullivan on Knowledge Graph, Predictive Search & Social Signals
Larry Kim: You have Google’s Amit Singhal doing a keynote on recent Google updates and the future of search, but what do you personally think we’ll see out of Google over the next two to three years?
Danny Sullivan: I think we’ll see much greater growth of embedding direct answers via the Knowledge Graph . We’ll also see Google continue to expand in trying to do “predictive search ” and show answers it’s anticipating that we need.
Results will also grow to be even more personalized than ever before. And maybe, just maybe, social signals will be used more.
LK: What one platform or tool do you think is underrated right now, but marketers should really be keeping an eye on?
DS: Well, I’m super curious about Snapchat. It has so much growth. I don’t know that it’s underrated, but there’s potential people aren’t sure yet how to tap into. Aside from that, I think some don’t realize what a powerhouse Pinterest is.
Conference Knowledge: Share the Love
LK: We see great social and blog content coming out of each SMX West event. How do you enable and encourage attendees to share their knowledge and what tools do you use to promote social sharing?
DS: I think people just naturally like to share great content . If you’ve seen something super helpful, and you pass that on to others, many get a great sense of satisfaction just from that. But also, sharing great content helps people want to follow you in social media, I think, so helping others also helps yourself. So, our key is to have great content to begin with. From that, we of course encourage people to share by providing an #smx hashtag, reminders in room slides at the show and through our own social media accounts. We also recently made the move to have slides from the events available on Slideshare, to make it easy for both attendees and others to get them.
New This Year: Marketing Land Summit
LK: SMX conferences take place around the world, from Jerusalem to New York to Stockholm. What makes SMX West unique?
DS: SMX West is especially designed for people who are in or near the West Coast looking for a show that broadly covers all aspects of search marketing. It’s really the location. SMX East has similar content. But if the snow keeps hitting much of the US, maybe some people will think they’d like an escape to warmer California this time of year.
But new to SMX West is also our Marketing Land Summit . It’s a special track within SMX West where we have a series of keynote-level, solo presentations providing a more strategic look at search marketing and digital marketing issues of interest to any digital marketer. It’s the debut of this, so that helps make SMX West special. Also, the close proximity to Google means that you get slightly more Googlers around the show, doing lunch networking or out in general.
The Future of SMX & Social Media Integration
LK: You always seem to be a step ahead of emerging trends in search and it looks like you’ve added thirty new sessions to SMX West this time around. What other changes or evolution can we expect from SMX conferences in the future?
DS: The Marketing Land Summit track I mentioned above is one example, where we’re trying to involve many viewpoints with a higher-level format, yet still have content that’s applicable to the search marketer.
We also, when planning a show, carefully review what happened at the last show. Does it make sense to return a session? Do we need to evolve one aspect of a session into a new breakout? What trends are we seeing as Search Engine Land editors or hearing from our contributors? What are people suggesting as session ideas? That’s what we do each time to make sure the program itself is always evolving.
LK: You’ve added a Social Media Marketing Boot Camp  to the agenda. Tell us more about that and why you wanted to add this program.
DS: We’ve had this before at our SMX Social Media event, and it proved very popular. There are constantly new people coming into the space who need to get up to speed. While SMX West is search-focused, plenty of search people also have to do or deal with social media. So offering it is an easy way for some of them to get educated.
SMX West in San Jose: Learn, Network & PARTY!
SMX West takes place in San Jose, California, March 11-13, 2014. See The Big Preview  for more information on the 60+ sessions and keynotes on paid search, social media marketing, SEO, mobile and more. Of course, you won’t want to miss the amazing parties and networking events, including the SMX Meet & Greet Monday night in the San Jose Marriott ballroom foyer and the infamous SMX After Dark, location to be announced.
This year, six intensive workshops  – including Advanced AdWords Training – are happening Monday, March 10. Register for your All-Access Pass  plus additional workshops on the SMX West website.
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