Yesterday was both a significant day for myself and the SEO/SEM/SMO community in Israel. For the first time, we held a public and organized Search Marketing event in Israel. For the first time, I hosted or moderated the event. Typically, Israeli SEMs get together in unofficial settings and typically, I either would speak on a panel or cover the panel for this site. But this time, we held an official SphinnCon Israel (small SMX) event in Jerusalem Israel and I moderated and hosted the event, as opposed to blogging the event.
Let me start off with how the day began. At about 10am Israel time, Branko picked me and my father up from my hotel. He took us to the Jerusalem College of Technology a round about way to see some things on the way, we arrived about 10:30am. When we arrived, Dr. Avi Kay, Department Chair of Technology Management & Marketing from the college greeted us. He then asked if I would meet the Director of the college. So my dad and I went upstairs to meet Dr. Solomon and a few other department heads. While my dad discussed university topics (since he is now a professor in New York), I chatted about the event, mostly with the technology people in the college. At about a little after 11am, they noticed I was getting anxious to test out my Apple Mac on their projectors and network. So Avi took me back downstairs to the location of the conference. Here is the front entrance:
I then set up my laptop that worked pretty much right off the bat. I was then calm and collected and began greeting some of the attendees and panelists. Here are pictures, first one is me saying hi to the CompuCall sponsors, then the next one is Mr. Branko himself, followed by me in the lobby area saying hellos to some attendees.
During this time, we were serving food, which I heard was great (I didnt have any myself) to the attendees. We extended our timeline to start a bit later so everyone can get a drink and have a bite to eat. We started about 12:30 or 12:45 where Dr. Avi Kay from the college introduced the conference and myself to the SphinnCon event.
Then I took the podium to introduce the event, myself, the lineup of sessions and panelists and thanking the sponsors, volunteers, and attendees. Here is a picture of me during that introduction. Note, there are videos on YouTube of it, and I have a video that I will upload when I get back to my FiOS connection in New York.
SEO Panel Then we took a quick 5 minute break to get our first panel going. After switching my Mac off and hooking up this Windows computer (yes, I know, Windows...), we were set. Branko Rihtman from Tens Technology and his blog SEO Scientist gave an outstanding detailed and fun presentation on paid links and penalties. Yes, the topics were fairly advanced, being that our attendees were mostly expert level. I won't cover what Branko talked about here in detail, you can find links to coverage of his session in both Hebrew and English below.
Then we went into question and answer session, which was very active and stimulating. On the Q&A panel was Ophir Cohen, the CEO of CompuCall, Sam Michelson of Five Blocks and Gilad Sasson of Nekuda.co.il. I cannot express how lively this Q&A session was - the questions were stimulating some of the best responses I have heard. The responses were spot on, since the panel had some of the brightest minds (as well as most experienced SEOs) waiting to answer them.
PPC Panel We then took a 15 minute break, which took about 25 minutes for some reason. The PPC panel was next where we had Avi Wilensky of Promedia Corp present on the increases of CPC prices and what can be done to have a consistent ROI. Again, there is plenty of coverage on his presentation, which can be read at the links below.
Then during the Q&A session we had Itai Levitan of EasyNet, Alon Sheafer of Kenshoo, Michael Samet, Ph.D. of PriceQuotes.com and Tal Cohen of Google Israel on the panel. As you can imagine, having a Google rep on the panel was fun - but Tal seriously impressed me with his responses. I typically see US based Google reps tackle some tough questions, but Tal seemed like he has done this time and time again - answering Qs with class and humor (keep in mind the audience here is not easy, we are SEMs). The other panelists had years and years of experience, most experience from the GoTo days. Dr. Michael Samet showed a slide showing hundreds of thousands of keyword prices dating back from 2002, showing how prices have increased tremendously. In any event, the Q&A was outstanding as well and you can see the coverage below.
SMO Panel Another 15 minute break lasting about 20 minutes... Then we kicked off the SMO panel where Eli Feldblum of Rank Above discussed "if you should social" or not. He showed some very detailed case studies on conversions by social media platform. I personally learned a lot from Eli's panel and was surprised by some of his findings. The details, again can be found in the coverage linked to below.
Then the Q&A began and we had the SEOs vs. the SMOs debate begin. It was funny and I know the SMO panelists were just joking and using it as a tease to make things fun. The panelists included Tzvika Avnery of Tagadam, Roi Carthy of TechCrunch and Lior Hener of Yedda. Roi was probably the most forceful, which was great but the others were seriously debating like nuts. The Q&A was excellent, I just wish we had more time to cover all the questions.
After this panel, we had the networking part for about an hour. We had drinks, alcohol and more foods at this event. Play65.com sponsored the drinks and gave out "First Evar SphinnCon" t-shirts. And K-Logic and eToro handed out cards for a night party in Tel Aviv. CompuCall was also sponsoring this event, which was important for me, since this was the first ever event and they are one of the largest SEO companies in Israel. So thank you sponsors, once again.
Last minute, Matt Cutts of Google sent me a video from Alon of the Google Webmaster Hebrew Help group, which I embedded in one of my slides in my presentation. It is all in Hebrew, so I thought I embed it here for everyone to see:
Thank you Google for sending this video, sending Tal and another Google rep to the event.
Like I said time and time again, I cannot express how much appreciate I have towards the sponsors, the college and most of all the volunteers that put countless hours in getting this event ready. There was only a minor Microphone glitch that latest for a part of the PPC Q&A panel and we also eventually got the wifi working for the bloggers, which wasn't expected. I want to once again name the volunteers by name. Michael Barnett, Eli Feldblum and Mayer Reich of Rank Above, Roi Hildesheimer and Branko Rihtman Tens Technology and Gilad Sasson of Nekuda.co.il. Thank you all so much.
Most importantly, thank you everyone who has made the effort of coming to the first ever SphinnCon event. I personally want to thank you all.
Here is the English coverage I found on the event:
- SphinnCon Israel Was a Big Success, Tuppy Glossop
- SphinnCon Israel - Event Summary, Ophir Cohen
- SphinnCon Israel 2008, SEO SOS
- SphinnCon Israel 2008 We've Arrived, Ophir Cohen
- SphinnCon Israel 2008, Promediacorp
- SphinnCon Israel 2008, Shwebby
- SphinnCon Israel Summary...more to come later, Illuminea
- SphinnCon Israel, SEO Scientist
- sphinncon israel review part 1: barry schwartz’s introduction, Illuminea
Here is the Hebrew coverage I found:
- Sphinncon סיכום כנס, SMO.co.il
- פאנל ראשון- קידום אתרים באינטרנט Sphinncon, SMO.co.il
- פאנל שני PPC קישורים ממומנים Sphinncon, SMO.co.il
- פאנל שלישי SMO שיווק ברשתות חברתיות Sphinncon, SMO.co.il
- SphinnCon כנס SphinnCon בנושא קידום אתרים בירושלים, SEOBlog.co.il
- K Logic Forums
Here are picture sets and video sets I found of the event: From SMO.co.il at Flickr, from Yosef Silver at RankAbove at Flickr, from RustyBrick at Flickr, from YBO at YouTube and Google Israel rep on YouTube.
Update: The three presentations are now available for download at the SphinnCon Israel web page.
Update: Here is a two part video of my introduction to the first ever SphinnCon event:
Part One: Length 08:51
Part Two: Length 08:10