Barry Smyths Search Engine Bootcamp (SEO/SEM Workshop) Review


barry smyth

Cost of going to Barry Smyth’s Search Engine Bootcamp: a few hundred dollars

Knowledge gained from the great speakers: Priceless!

A few days ago I was lucky enough to attend the Sydney Search Engine Bootcamp Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) workshop run by Barry Smyth’s Search Strategies company and was very impressed by the quality of speakers and the knowledge that was shared.

General Overview

Jargon – There was a specific session dedicated to explaining SEO/SEM jargon – SEO, PPC, ROI, SERP etc which was a great idea.

However some of the attendees who were pretty new to the industry still ended up approaching more experienced people like me during drinks sessions with questions like “What’s that RSS thing he was talking about?”

Not sure what else could be done to remedy this considering it’s a 1 day workshop with lots of content to cram in.

Bargain Price – The advertised price was $595+GST but significant discounts are available by pre-paying well in advance or if you’re a member of an industry association like the Web Standards Group (WSG) eg: With a WSG Discount code the price was $495+GST

Anyway even if you pay full price it’s ridiculously cheap for the knowledge you get. An SEO agency would charge a client $1000’s to give them similar advice.
ezicomm clikapad wireless voting keypad

Quality Speakers – I’ve been to plenty of conferences, workshops and seminars and to be brutally honest around 1/4 or 1/3rd of speakers are usually no good either because their knowledge is old and out of date or their delivery is terrible and they send everyone to sleep.

Surprisingly the speakers at this workshop bucked the trend by being at worst solid and at best very good indeed:

Audience Voting – In between sessions Barry kept the audience interested by asking multiple choice questions which we could answer using a Ezicomm wireless voting keypad. No doubt the answers will provide useful market research info which can be used to fine tune the workshop for next time.

Schedule & Food – Check-in to pickup a notepad and small Search Engine Bootcamp backpack closed at 8:45 giving people to time to drink some tea/coffee to help them wake up. Each of the 4 sessions contained 3 x 30min talks and a Q&A session afterwards and at the end there was an hour of Networking drinks 1730-1830.

Conference food is usually average but this workshop was held at the Sheraton 4 Point Darling Harbour where we had full choice of of the buffet menu at their Corn Exchange Restaurant with plenty of choice for everyone including vegetarians like me.

Bonus Items

  • Free Search Engine Category Report worth $750 – Courtesy of Hitwise.
  • One Month FREE subscription to the Keyword Discovery service valued at $80.00 – Courtesy of Trellian.
  • One Month FREE access to Bruce Clay SEOTools, a collection of indispensable Search Engine Optimisation tools – Courtesy of Bruce Clay
  • $75 Credit Voucher for search marketing on Yahoo!7, 9MSN + more – Courtesy of Yahoo! Search Marketing Australia
  • Audio Podcast of each speakers session
  • Electronic PDF copy of the speakers presentations


The following is a summary of the notes I took across the whole day. Obviously being in the SEO field for several years I already knew almost all of the tips but I’m repeating them here so that others can learn.

Wherever possible each recommendation “What to do” or “What not to do” is linked to an explanatory article that I have found:

search engine bootcamp logo

SEO & Usability

SEO – What to do

SEO – What not to do

Pay Per Click (PPC) Essentials

PPC – What to do

  • Talk to your SEM client! Get to know their business in depth and read any brochures or marketing material they use offline to get keyword ideas.
  • Understand the Google and Yahoo quality score systems because they can have a huge effect on what price you pay / click
  • Use Thesaurus and Dictionaries when creating Keyword lists
  • Gather keyword data collected by your site search tool eg: Google Custom Search Engine and your Traffic monitor system eg: Google Analytics
  • See who’s ranking for your “Brands” and common misspellings eg: Qantas VS Quantas
  • Investigate new PPC opportunities like Google Gadget Ads, Local business listings
  • Make sure you include keywords in the long tail as well as the obvious ones

PPC – What not to do

Other Useful Info

  • Google’s Universal Search and similar projects by Yahoo, etc are really shaking up the SEO industry so make sure you keep up to date about their effects
  • Online Reputation Management is an emerging field well worth investigating which involves monitoring, analyzing, and pro actively managing the conversation about your brand, organisation, and reputation, online.
  • The key to success is good quality, naturally written, relevant content that offers in depth information which people are looking for


6 thoughts on “Barry Smyths Search Engine Bootcamp (SEO/SEM Workshop) Review”

  1. Wow, seems like it was a great bootcamp! Thanks for going into so much detail in your review! I’ll have to make sure to go to things like that in future, as it seems like you can learn a lot!

  2. I have attended the search engine boot camp and it was, without doubt, the most unprofessional waste of time I have ever sat through. The unfortunate thing is that there is a reason why these courses are so cheap!! There was not enough seating for the attendees, no notes were provided and the course presenters told us it was going to be rushed becasue the course was supposed to be over a full day not half day. We were not even provided with a pen or notepad! The course presenters sat up the back and talked between themselves while other speakers were presenting (very rude) and they were all sitting at desks while paying customers were sat on chairs up the back with no desk. This course may be JUST suitable for a sole trader or someone very new to the internet, but definitely no for well established organisations. I strongly urge anyone considering paying money for this “bootcamp” to think twice before committing.

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