My Plea to SE Conferences: Turn Calacanis Away

My Plea to SE Conferences: Turn Calacanis Away

We’re paying top dollar to be told that we’re either bullshit artists, or wasting away our time and careers. That my friends, is bullshit.

The search marketing industry is all frenzied now that Jason Calacanis decided to upset some of the best SEOs in the industry. Again. The question I’m left to ask is — Why are we really surprised?

When Calanis’ stated that SEO is bullshit in his keynote at SES Chicago, everyone was ready to tear him a new one. Neil stepped in, proved him wrong, and then slowly, Calacanis repositioned himself as someone the industry paid attention to.

Yesterday in his keynote at SMX Social Media — Calacanis infuriated the industry again, prompting some prominent figures to literally walk out. This time, we’re being told that SEO is a wasted industry, and that we’re fighting off ranking problems instead of creating good content.

Unable to say anything without reaching around to pat his own back, Jason then adds that using a human service is a better way to go about it. Really Jason? I bet Mahalo would qualify as a human powered service, right? Sigh.

As an industry, let’s just put ourselves in a position to stop dealing with this type of juvenile behavior. How you ask? With one simple step. Get him off of the conference keynotes.

The truth is, SEO’s don’t care about Mahalo. It’s a no name search portal that uses biased human editing to control SRPs. Notice, that’s not a SERP — because Mahalo is not an engine.

Furthermore, Calacanis knows next to nothing about SEO. While I will say that he’s more related to SMO than he is SEO and SEM — people who are paying a premium to attend events like SES and SMX are really tired of his whole charade.

Jason Calacanis is quickly becoming that annoying ass kid in the restaurant that screams bloody murder when he doesn’t get his own way. He’s doing this whole thing for attention — and all we’re doing is setting him up to do it again and again and again.

This blog post shouldn’t even need to be written, because like Calacanis — it’s irrelevant to the search industry. I just hope some of three three readers I have here on my blog will hear me out and turn away from clown.

10 thoughts on “My Plea to SE Conferences: Turn Calacanis Away

  1. Bravo, Eric. I couldn’t agree more. It blows my mind that he is still invited to speak, and still talked about amongst our community. Maybe it’s just linkbait from the search conferences b/c they know there is a good chance it will draw a lot of buzz and press.

  2. No link love for Jason? ;)

    Couple of points:
    I agree, Jason needs to stop being invited as a keynote. However, this certainly does get SMX some nice backlinks from the SEO community. Call it speaker-bait if you will, but most people would rather watch a brawl than a boring trend keynote. Those aren’t my personal feelings, but a simple observation that keynotes have devolved into verbal entertainment and juicy bait for bloggers and twitter users.

    As for Jason thinking SEO is a waste, that’s a load of crap. He believes in it as much as anyone and puts a lot of effort into being search-friendly. He’s just sparking discussion, yet again, and everyone is eating it up because it gives them something to talk about rather than pointing out the inherit flaws in Mahalo.

  3. Thank you Eric. You stated precisely what a lot of us are thinking. Why on earth do so many SEO folks follow him on twitter though? Not me. Never have. Never will.

  4. Absolutely right on. I must say I saw it coming. He’s not so different from the industry he trashes. He is getting lots of popularity from this behavior, which must be his form of SEO.

  5. He should definitely continue to keynote. His perspective is a wake up call to industry people who believe the little box they live in is the world. Also, he has explained many times now that the SEO is BS comment was targeted to the “used car salesmen” type SEO pitches he’d get. He’s saying thin sites are losing and content rich sites really don’t need SEO. The thin sites are chasing Google after every algorithm change rather than providing a high quality user experience. He says nothing against the content rich user value added sites, and that’s the point.

  6. Well-written, rational article, Eric.

    If he thinks big sites don’t need SEO to rank, tell him he should change the title tags on his site back to “Jason Calacanis,” switch his homepage links to AJAX & see what happens to his traffic. Let alone see what happens when other Web 2.0/3.0 speakers start to get more incoming links than he does.

  7. We’re you in the room for the talk? I got a ton of great feedback on the discussion/panel. Danny Sullivan was very happy with it as well. We had dinner after with like 40 people and everyone thought it was a positive discussion. At least 30 folks came up to me after to say they LOVED my thoughts on the industry.

    I think there is a very positive discussion going on at these events regarding the value of SEO vs. the value of building a great site. It’s amazing to me how out of context folks take my talk… if you take one sentence you’re not getting the whole picture.

    Anyway, if the SEO industry can’t handle an outside voice that doesn’t agree with it at their events it doesn’t really matter to me.

    However, I would encourage you to be open minded to dissenting voices: they’re not always right, but sometimes they are.

    rock on,


  8. He’s a name and he gets coverage which means you’ll likely see him programmed again. He’s counting on blog posts like this to further increase his mindshare. I don’t necessarily disagree with your premise but Jason will only go away when people stop paying attention to everything he’s saying and doing.

  9. Jason, I wasn’t in the room to hear what was said. You know that though by now.

    You’re an incredibly talented marketer, as evidenced by your ability to generate attention for yourself (like, my blog post here and the discussion on Sphinn).

    I’m just tired of that pitch and would prefer to see it stopped. That’s the basis for this post and it’s entirely opinionated. I’m glad others enjoyed your full keynote, and I’m happy that they obtained some value from it.

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