We began today’s Brighton SEO Conference with a panel discussion between Rishi Lakahni, a freelance SEO Strategist, Jamie Freeman from Message, Andy Budd from Clearleft, Nichola Stott from The Media Flow and Samuel Crocker from OMD.
The panel seemed to agree that SEO was in trouble, although they disagreed about the degree to which is was “doomed” and whether it could be saved. Rishi pleaded with the audience (“link junkies”) to “grow up” and “become real marketers” while others like Samuel Crocker and Nichola Stott argued that whilst it’s name might have been tainted it could benefit from some rebranding. The legitmacy of SEO as a practise was brought into question by Jamie Freeman, who argued that there was no “white hat SEO”; only different shades of grey. Andy Budd made comparisons to the financial industry, and agreed that SEO was “morally corrupt”.
The panel seemed to agree that a new focus is needed in SEO, with Rishi hoping the industry could rebrand itself more honestly as Search Engine Results Manipulation. Nichola speculated that the technical skills involved in SEO are going to continue to be sought-after for technical marketing exercises, but that the black hat, spammy side of SEO really was doomed. “Be a marketer, a pr person, a writer or a musician” pleaded Jamie Freeman, while Samuel Crocker stood his ground by claiming he was “an online marketer who currently is employed in SEO”. The panel seemed to agree that SEOs needed to leave the bedroom spamming behind and concentrate on mature digital marketing. It was a lively debate with some good audience participation, with one contributor bravely admitting “I am a spammer”. It has to be taken with a pinch of salt considering the conference itself centred around SEO, but there were some useful and insightful opinions and perspectives shared.