I have a head for details. I have always been very observant, and I remember even tiny details of conversations, environments, and facial expressions. Sometimes it bugs me, as I over-analyze and seek meaning in probably meaningless gestures. But more often, those little details fall into place later and provide clues for understanding oberved paradoxes. Paradoxes like, if he’s so successful at SEO, why did he quit and take a corporate job in order to “have a regular salary“? Or, if she’s a full time SEO but blogs on the web virtually all the time, when does she do actual SEO work?
Well, post Pubcon, I returned to the SERPs armed with a collection of verbal claims from SEOs and marketers just begging for verification.
“I’m #1 everywhere for __________“, said one. Well, not from here you’re not. In fact, not from any of the 12 geo-located proxies I have set up across the country. Yes you rank, and that is impressive, but #6 and #4 are not the same as #1. And, it’s not “everywhere” and certainly not Ask nor Google. Also, the reason I looked to verify the claim in the first place: I believe it takes significantly more “power” to hold a #1 spot consistently in your niche, than a top 10. You, my friend, are not as powerful as you may believe.
Of course it may have been the beer talking, and as I said I still have great respect for anyone holding the top spots in competitive areas. It’s simply not “#1″, and it’s simply not “everywhere”.
Another case: “I wrote an ebook on _________ and got it to the top and sold XXXX copies last year”. Okay! I love to hear success stories, and I don’t doubt one bit that you did just what you said. Sometimes, timing is everything, right? But, isn’t it too bad that your ebook is no where to be found today? And not mentioned by anyone, or linked to by anyone? It would have been GREAT to keep selling it organically, right?
Again, nothing personal, and much respect for the work and success… but perhaps you told everybody about it at the last Pubcon or SES, and caused a competitive surge or something because I can’ find any evidence of it today. On second thought… I wish you had told me about your current money-making ebook. I bet it’s kicking butt in the SERPs right now….
How many times did I hear people at Pubcon say “SEO is easy. It’s so basic, and people just don’t know it”. Yup. I, to, saw that after suffering through a few sessions, especially the expert panels that “tore apart” selected websites. How many times did I hear the same things… certainly enough to imprint them permanently on the brains of new SEOs. “Keywords in Title tags, not too long” and “you’re www is a 302 to your canonical domain - fix it!” and “what’s with the images? Spiders can’t read images”. Gee… is it really that easy? Maybe every webmaster should start selling SEO services tomorrow, because this stuff is easy.
I saw many people writing down tips to bring back home. I heard several say “if I just get a few god tricks and tips, it paid for my visit”. Yes, that is the con in pubcon, and yours is the bias that ensures those tips will be believed, the value will have been delivered, and you will remain thristy for more SEO next year.
I think more than ever before, Pubcon is about introducing web masters, business owners, and marketers to the concept of SEO, and introducing SEO practitioners to each other on a hierarchical basis. The consumers (web masters, business owners, and marketers) see what SEO can do, and sometimes get the wrong message (that it is easy). That’s ok, because until they fail a few times they don’t make for good SEO clients anyway.
And the SEO’s? Well, that hierarchy is also an economic system, pushing the funds and new talent upwards to the established elite. Newbies are told constantly of the opportunity to mingle with the experienced folks at the pubs around pubcon, yet usually only find each other at those bars. The real people arrange their rendezvous, and inclusion is a process of selection. Did you get included/invited? Or excluded? I bet it made all the difference in your Pubcon experience.