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Are the Brains of Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization Sartorially Challenged?

jarboe-greg
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The Boston Globe has just published it's list of "The 25 most stylish Bostonians" and I'm not on it. And I'm starting to think that I may owe SEM industry observer, Meredith A.C. Roth, an apology.

Back on July 28, 2004, Roth issued a press release announcing her list of the "Best of the Best (and Worst Dressed)" at SES. More than six years ago, she said, "Wanna hook up with the smartest people in the Search Engine Marketing biz? Look for the worst dressed. It's SEO Tip number one: The brains of Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization are sartorially challenged."

Now, I should disclose that I was one of the folks on Roth's "SEM Top 10" list. I was #9. According to the press release, "There's SEO-PR whiz Greg Jarboe, whom you should e-mail if you haven't started optimizing your PR efforts already. He's the bearded guy you'd vote least-likely-to-be-in-public relations."

At #8 on the list was Bryan Eisenberg, who was described as "one of the most engaging and entertaining speakers on the search circuit." According to the press release, "He can work wonders for your site and its conversion. An undershirt would work wonders for him."

At #2 on the list was Mike Grehan, who was described as an "industry maverick" and "in a class by himself." According to the press release, "Catch his panel session and you'll be thoroughly entertained, enthralled and educated. His look? 100% Spinal Tap."

Now, there were three women on the list, who were described as "industry mavens looking more like a PTA panel than SEM" and a fourth woman who was described as "an 80s version of Ally McBeal." Since I know at least one of them was deeply offended and hurt by the press release, I won't name names.

And since the press release had hurt the feelings of one or more of my friends in the industry, I also dismissed Roth's observation, "Search Engine Marketing is an industry still defining itself. At the Net nexus of technology, advertising and wherever your imagination takes you, Search combines the greatest intellects of myriad disciplines, still in the throws of determining what Search Engine Marketing means. Yet to develop: the industry's collective image."

Well, that was six years ago. And Roth may have been right.

Nevertheless, it's now 2010 and the industry's collective image has developed -- sometimes in unpredictable ways. And I'll let you decide whether or not the brains of search engine marketing and search engine optimization are still sartorially challenged.

So, who belongs on the Top 10 SEM list this year?

To show that I can tackle such a topic "without fear or favor," I'll start with "the bearded guy you'd vote least-likely-to-be-in-public relations."

Lee Odden and Greg Jarboe at SES San Jose 2008.jpg
Lee Odden and Greg Jarboe at SES San Jose 2008

I'm talking about Lee Odden, of course. He's the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing and a member of the SES Advisory Board. He is one of 25 online marketing experts featured in "Online Marketing Heroes" published by Wiley. He has also launched a Facebook Group called "Marketers with Beards."

Also earning a spot on the SEM Top 10 list is Fionn Downhill, the well-respected CEO and President of Elixir Interactive. She a founding member the SEMPO Institute and she taught me the connection between St. Patrick and viral marketing.


Fionn Downhill Dances to the Beat of Viral Marketing

Also on the list is Mona Elesseily, Vice President, Online Marketing Strategy at Page Zero Media. She has has written two books on Yahoo!, which is unfortunate -- since Bing is now powering Yahoo!'s search results in the U.S. and Canada. But I've got to give her credit for posing with the mascot of Invesp consulting, a friendly land-shark, at SES New York 2009. And, you'll note that she's wearing "nice shoes."

Mona Elesseily at SES New York 2009.jpg
Mona Elesseily (left) with land shark (center) at SES New York 2009

Also on the list is Tim Ash, the CEO of SiteTuners.com and author of the bestselling book Landing Page Optimization. He is the host of the weekly Landing Page Optimization show and podcast on WebmasterRadio.fm. He's also been Salsa dancing for 15 years.


Optimizing Landing Pages -- Tim Ash's Tips and... Footwork

Now, no list would be complete without Bryan Eisenberg, a New York Times bestselling author and member of the SES Advisory Board. What can I say about a guy who wrote a book with his brother entitled, Waiting For Your Cat to Bark? He's lost a lot of weight since Roth wrote about him. And he's one of the few friends that I have who is a New York Yankees fan.

Bryan Eisenberg and Avinash Kaushik at SES London 2010.jpg
Bryan Eisenberg (left) with Avinash Kaushik (right) at SES London 2010

Also on the Top 10 SEM list is Matt Bailey, the noted president of SiteLogic and another member of the SES Advisory Board. What can I say about a guy who wrote an article entitled, "Analytics According to Captain Kirk." He teaches courses in the Rutgers Mini-MBA program. He's also one of the few friends that I have who is an Ohio State Buckeye fan.


Matt Bailey uses Star Trek analogies to discuss Ecommerce at SES San Jose 2009

Another person who belongs on the list is Anne Kennedy, Managing Partner of Beyond Ink and another member of the SES Advisory Board. She is a founding member of the board of directors of Helium.com and a founder of Jobr.net Self-Service SEO. She doesn't look like a member of "a PTA panel" or "an 80s version of Ally McBeal." So, it appears the industry's collective image has sometimes developed in unpredictable ways.

Anne Kennedy at SES San Jose 2009.jpg
Anne Kennedy interviews Mark Rosenberg at SES San Jose 2009

Also on the list is an ensemble known as the Sock Puppets. I've agreed to keep their secret identities ... a secret. So, you'll just have to watch the video below and try to guess whether they are some of the smartest people in the Search Engine Marketing biz.


Sock Puppets at SES London 2008

Still on the Top 10 SEM list after all these years is Mike Grehan, the Global VP of Content for SES, Search Engine Watch, and ClickZ as well as the Chair of the SES Advisory Board. In March 2010, he was elected to SEMPO's board of directors. What can I say about a guy who no longer carries around a shoehorn named "Sticky." Yes, it's sad, but true. Now, he's just one of the guys who wears a White Hat at SES Conference & Expo events.

Matt McGowan and Mike Grehan at SES Toronto 2010.jpg
Matt McGowan (seated) and Mike Grehan (standing) at SES Toronto 2010.

Last but not least on the list is Jonathan Allen, the director of Search Engine Watch. Many in the search industry will remember his video, "50 SEOs 1 Question - SES London." But he was behind the camera for that one. However, he made a cameo appearance in "Searching for Santa at SES Chicago 2009," which was also his brainchild.


Searching for Santa at SES Chicago 2009

Now, I'm sure that there many, many other SEMs who deserve to be on the Top 10 list -- but if we added them all, then it wouldn't be a Top 10 list, would it. Besides, I don't have any incriminating photos or funny videos of them them ... yet.

As Roth observed way back in 2004, "No industry, burgeoning or otherwise, would be complete without a list of its beautiful people. Luckily, Search has its fair share of 'lush' executives. You'll be sure to see that crowd at John Battelle's forthcoming Web 2.0 conference this Fall."


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