The weather was absolutely perfect for sitting out on the patio, enjoying pleasant conversation. It was the perfect setting for the evening’s meeting at the Renaissance Hotel in Richardson, Texas. Christine Churchill, of KeyRelevance fame, introduced Brett Tabke to the crowd at the DFW Search Engine Marketing Association meeting yesterday. As most of you know, Brett Tabke is the man behind WebmasterWorld.com, one of the largest web-focused forums on the World Wide Web. He is also responsible for PubCon, the leading conference for sharing information about SEO, SEM, and Webmaster issues. I say “the leading conference for SEO” because, as many of you know, Danny Sullivan is making the keynote address at this year’s PubCon conference in Las Vegas.
Danny Sullivan had been the face behind the Search Engine Strategies Conference (SES) for years, but has recently announced his separation from the SES. Questions about Danny Sullivan and PubCon were no doubt at the forefront of many people’s minds: will Danny align himself with PubCon, thus thrusting it to the forefront of search engine marketing conferences? When asked, all that Brett Tabke could say is that Danny Sullivan has likely been offered positions from multiple conference organizations and has yet to announce any final decision. “He may have something to announce at the conference,” Brett chuckled, “I certainly hope so.”
Brett’s presentation covered the history of his career, exposure to computerized technology, and the issues faced by today’s SEO/SEM forums. He acknowledged a rather significant drop off in new forum memberships over the past six months. In his opinion, the rather significant portion of the American population that had not made the switch to web-based thinking/marketing has now been inoculated. “The SEO/SEM industry has plateaued,” Brett admitted. He went on to admit a level of uncertainty as to what to expect from the next phase of SEO growth. Search Engine Optimization has “matured” to a certain point, he explained, where we no longer need to repeatedly explain META Descriptions and Title Tags to the readership. The readers have asked those questions, learned as much as they can, and are now leveling off at this level of maturity that begs the question: “What do we teach them now?” Certainly, these important questions.
While we in the SEO industry certainly do not know everything, including the actual algorithms of search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask, enough information is already out there on the web that anyone can learn how to optimize a website by spending the time to research and experiment. Brett Tabke’s presentation style is very relaxed, comfortable, and personable. It was refreshing to hear a man of his stature admit to uncertainties and concerns. Those questions are real. Many SEOs have been wondering the same thing. In part, the very truth of those concerns were the motivation behind my article, “Breaking SEO Myths Part One: The SEO Expert.”
There comes a point when a person is attempting to become an expert through link bait articles, countless forum posts, and blog networks. The lack of deeper waters (outside of learning HTML, Pearl, .Net, etc.) is evidence in and of itself that the industry is quickly coming to a point when talking about itself will prove to be only redundant. And before someone begins accusing me of constantly accusing and slandering SEOs, let me be the first to say that I do not wish for a lack of new information. I don’t want to be bored. I don’t want to end up regurgitating the same old thing. I enjoy learning, challenges, and growth. So just know that my comments about the industry are not bitter judgments but rather concerns about myself.