We Are Not Rock Stars !!!

For some time now I’ve bitten my tongue on an issue that’s driven me nuts for some time – the ego involved in the SEO industry. I have WAY too often heard some of the more noted SEO’s referred to as “rock stars”. And who makes the reference? Other SEO’s.

Let’s face facts shall we … If I ask my neighbor, my dad or my banker who even Matt Cutts is I’m going to get a blank stare. Even the most recognized person in our industry is, to those outside the industry and related industries, an unknown. Rock star? I think not.

Now this isn’t to say that Matt isn’t a good guy and important in the grand scheme of search. He’s a great spokesperson for Google and obviously a brilliant engineer but a rock star?

If we want to take a peek at brilliance in engineering perhaps I could ask a simple question, “The Large Hadron Collider successfully completed it’s first test today – who was the chief architect?” A development in technology that could well affect the way we view our universe and our understanding about how the building blocks of matter and existence function. But they’re not rock stars – no no, to be a rock star you have to optimize web pages and attend conferences.

How about Norman Borlaug? Norman who? That’s alright, he’s not a rock star – he’s only credited with saving over a billion people and won the Congressional Gold Medal, the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. You can read more about him on my blog post from July 25, 2007 if you’re interested but remember – he’s not a rock star. He didn’t get a site onto the first page of Google to flog a new acne medication.

As I’m sure you’ve all gathered – the term rock star itself is a bit of a point of contention to me. Let’s take for example Mick Jagger. Now, I’m not a big Rolling Stones fan but I know who Mick Jagger is. I’ll bet you do too. My dad does, my neighbor does and I’ll bet my banker does too. Why? Because he’s a rock star.

So what exactly got my blood boiling on this one (I could deal with the term rock star but …). San Jose. Now don’t get me wrong – SES San Jose was an awesome event, Kevin Ryan did an excellent job, and it was great to see Danny Sullivan there but one night after one of the many parties (if memory serves me correctly it was after Search Bash) a group of intoxicated SEO’s were heard staggering down the street shouting, “We control the Internet!”

* Sigh *

Alright, now it’s time for another lesson on how all those “tubes” work. We don’t control the Internet. The Internet is controlled by the guys that got picked on in high school. The Internet is controlled by engineers, caffeine and is held together with duct tape. True, we do have some influence over which specific websites appear in the results and thus do influence some decisions and consumer experiences HOWEVER do we control the Internet? Not a chance.

And so my friends it’s time for some of us (not all – there are some very normal down-to-Earth SEO/SEM’s out there) to find a hat big enough for their heads, a truck big enough to pack their egos in and come to terms with the fact that we play a role in Internet commerce and information exchange but we are NOT rock stars and we are not the end-all-be-all of the Internet.

But That’s Not To Say …

Now I can already predict that someone somewhere is going to twist this post into some smack on SEO/SEM (remember now – I’m an SEO), some rant about not being included in the rock star lists (I’ve made a couple) or some wish that I controlled the Internet (OK – you’d catch me on this one, it would be pretty sweet to actually control the Internet). The truth is, SEO is a solid job among many, it has some great rewards, and some excellent people but we’re not better than others and we’re not more notable than others. We don’t need the egos – we’ve got a good enough thing going as it is. SEO/SEM is a valuable service – let’s just be realistic about our roll in the world shall we?

And that’s my rant for the day.

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