There seems to be a lot of talk about SEO this past week, with few discussing much of substance.
Here’s a suggestion for substantive discussion of SEO: Danny Sullivan leaving his post at Search Engine Watch after 10 years, meaning he’ll stop organizing Search Engine Strategies conferences now that Incisive Media bought previous owner JupiterMedia (which bought SEW from Sullivan).
I covered the San Jose Search Engine Strategies show last month on my RealitySEO blog from the show and in a couple of follow-up articles after the show. It was an excellent conference and featured dozens of great sessions. Google CEO Eric Schmidt thought the conference was significant enough to the industry that he gave Danny Sullivan an interview as the keynote presentation. Several sessions covering new areas – like social media search (YouTube, Flickr, Digg, Del.icio.us) and another excellent session on the rarely discussed “local search”.
While Incisive Media will likely continue with that profitable show without Danny Sullivan, it’s unlikely to be structured with such broad interests discussed and will very likely lean heavily on the corporate SEO end. Sullivan will be missed.
Here’s another suggestion for substantive discussion of SEO: How about looking at the new Google Search Patent? While it is likely difficult to discern true intent of the search giant from the publicly posted patent, at least it leads us to look seriously at a worthwhile SEO industry issue.
Meanwhile, at LED Shari Thurow and Detlev Johnson (both of whom regularly speak at search conferences) dropped in to calm the storm over the “Search Guru” thread a bit with their thoughts. I’m convinced that not everyone on the LED list know enough about SEO to realize that those two could be called Gurus. Bruce Clay (another Guru worthy of veneration) commented in LED about three weeks ago to respond to posts complaining about the same speakers appearing at search conferences over and over again.
Why are people apparently up in arms when recognized and established names in a very well established industry speak regularly at conferences?
Let’s look at an interesting question posed to us by someone worth listening to:
Shari Thurow asked:
… I wonder how SEO as a discipline is
going to evolve. I think it’s chaos right now,
with black-hat techniques dominating….
– Shari Thurow, LED 2240
I’ll take a shot at that one Shari.
Black hat techniques are not practiced by those worthy of Guru-like veneration and those techniques can be left for the Tricksters (dare I say Satans?) of SEO. (You are safe Shari – you are definitely seen by most as a true SEO angel.) SEO’s only use black-hat techniques if they want clients to abandon and hate them after the client sites are banned from the search engines. They’ll die off and disappear as those techniques are weeded out with search engine algorithm updates.
I’m convinced that SEO will evolve well, with the gurus of SEO continuing to move in-house at substantial web companies and it will become a more firmly entrenched corporate job as it has over the past couple of years – thus lending legitimacy and cementing best practices of SEO. (We’ll try to overlook the BMW SEO using black hat techniques to rank tops for “Used Cars” and BMW’s subsequent short ban from Google for the transgression.)
With the New York Times listening to (in-house) Guru Marshall Simmonds, IBM listening to Guru Bill Hunt (both or whom regularly speak at conferences too) – we can be certain that evil-doers will prey only on the truly naive and ignorant – who don’t read up on SEO.
But the mom and pop web businesses will continue to talk about and attempt to learn SEO – probably from search Gurus at conferences or from SEO articles, discussion forums and blog posts. Five to six thousand people per event will still listen to a learn from those Gurus at conferences.
Everyone wants to talk endlessly about search engine fluff and go on and on about small single attributes of SEO (like linking), but smart business owners highly value search engine authorities (er, Gurus), and want to see them speak at conferences.