Our Managing Director is speaking at SMXL Milan in November, and as the show draws closer we sat down with Sante Achille – Event Chairman of the World renowned event – to get an insight into what the event offers, key activities for 2018 and what sessions are a must see!
Sante – can you tell us a little about how you got into the search industry?
It all started in 1993… yes that’s right in ’93. I was a Project engineer working for the European Space Agency in the Netherlands. I had “grown up” to be an aerospace engineer and worked for some pretty big projects on those days. One drizzly and grey afternoon in late ’93 the IT guys gave us a presentation on “the web” and told us how we could comunicate with Industry by means of Email. I was fascinated by the technology and saw the potential. I started researching the Internet and the more I learned, the more I was convinced it was going to blossom into something big. It was mid ’94 when I got really serious about making this a part of my professional life. In October ’94 I flew into Chicago to attend the 2nd World Wide Web Conference and that changed my life forever. I started out from the bottom with dail-up Internet connections and web sites and turned to Search in ’98 and have been doing SEO ever since.
Why is SMXL an important show for the European search professional marketer?
SMXL offers some of the best speakers on the market today. As Chairman of the event, my main objective is to design an agenda that offers top quality content. There are many events out there today and the number is constantly growing: thanks to Business International I was able to attract some of the most talented web marketers in the world who will share their knowledge with participants. As I have learned through participating in many events over the years, people want to see how things are done – we need to show them how to do things, not tell them how they can be done: I always say the ingredients to make a pizza are readily available anywhere on the web BUT I’LL NEVER make a pizza anywhere close to the pizza my wife makes – the same goes for any market segment, in particular digital marketing.
Another advantage is the price: SMXL has a particularly aggressive pricing which makes the event even more attractive with 2 days in Milan!
Technical professions like search, CRO, performance optimisation is largely a global community, with global best-practise that works anywhere where there is broadband and mobile network coverage. However – there will often be requirements for specific in-market expertise. Can you give any examples of any specialisms that are critical within the Italian market?
I wouldn’t say there are particular requirements or specific nuances directly related to the Italian market: the laws of digital marketing are the same for all of us, the difference lie in the culture of the people we address: I work with Italians, Americans, English, Germans to name the most important markets where I am active and I find important to “fine tune” communications in order to make things work – we are all the same yet different and that is the main aspect we need to focus on to be successful on a global market place.
What I see today is an eccessive fragmentation of the profession: I might be wrong but an eccessive or “hyper” specialization tends to push professionals too far down the funnel and miss the bigger picture, but then I might be wrong!
What are the key activities you would recommend that SEO agencies and in-house leaders have on their roadmap for 2018?
Website Speed with a mobile first approach. I mean redesign the website with a mobile phone in the palm of their hand and think of the typical user navigation within the website – I have done this recently and I tell you it has changed the way I look at the web nowadays. Mobile is typically the first contact point and you can make a god first impression the first time.
I am a firm believer of structured data and semantics. There is a lot of talk about Microdata and rich snippets but few have really grasped the potential and true meaning of structured data and use of Schema.org to make their website more “understandable” – Structured data is a very powerful tool more and more will be turning to – the sooner you do it the better…
Which of the speakers are you looking forward to seeing? (Obviously all the speakers have been selected and vetted for quality and experience, but for your own professional areas of interest…)
There are 2 specific sessions I have fostered right from the beginning and they are:
– The Dark Side of Digital Marketing
– Structured Data & Semantics – How are they Changing Search?
The former is a “no BS” session where we talk black hat – things you normally will not hear people talk about. It’s a session I have always wanted in conferences, I feel that too often there is too much “fair play” talk about a world of wonderful people and a web full of “fuzzy cuddly” people you can rely on. The truth is the web is a ruthless place where people will do just about anything to reach their objective and I want to air this message in no uncertain terms in this session.
The latter is what I would call the window of opportunity, how to start your journey down the path of website optimization using structured data. I’ve already talked about that and today this is the main focus of my SEO efforts (along with what we can call “traditional” SEO)
Do you have any concerns for the future of the search industry?
None at all. This is an ever changing landscape so we need to be fast – understand what is happening and react consequently: I have been working with the web and on the web for more than 20 years (and there are not many of us with this kind of track record) and I can tell you that over the years the digital transformation has been about adapting basic marketing techniques to the evolution of the digital media – if you’re a good marketer and follow your instinct, you’ll always be ahead of the game. Of course this implies being proactive with Clients and winning the challenge of “digital inertia”.
Why is Milan the home of SMXL?
Because Milan is the financial capital of Italy and one of the major European cities. It just makes sense to have SMXL positioned in Milan. Speakers and Delegates alike will enjoy the endless opportunities to visit the rest of Italy after the conference: Rome is easily reachable via high speed train in 2 hrs and 50 minutes – Venice much less than that.
If you’re wanting to come along to SMXL, you can get yourself a ticket here.