I go to the best barbershop in the Hudson Valley, if not the world.  It’s run by the eponymous “Pugsly”, has rockabilly on the sound system, complementary beer on tap, and an ambience and attitude  of another era. While getting my monthly head polishing, I noticed a sign on the mirror informing the clientele that Pugsly would be in Vegas this month.  While I’m sure he’ll have his share of leisure, the purpose of the trip is to attend a professional conference.

In Search Engine Optimization (SEO), we do the same thing – we go to SMX, SES, and countless other events for our profession.  In fact, come May, I’ll be speaking at Blog World East on the very subject of SEO.

This is a remarkable age we live in that we can share time with our fellow professional SEO’s. Yesterday evening, I spent and hour on Twitter in a “chat” with some of the top SEO professionals in the country, like Matt McGee (editor at Search Engine Land), Ash Buckles (President of SEO.com), Alan K’necht, Dan Patterson and Matt Siltala. Rand Fishkin, Joe Hall and Rhea Drysdale (from Outspoken Media) briefly weighed in. If it had been a real room, you’d be hard pressed to find a place with more top SEO Professionals per square foot. It’s not quite Vegas, but it sure is satisfying in the short run.

Matt McGee led the charge on a heated discussion about SEO certification.  I think he mentioned a Sphinn article on the topic – and that brought back an avalanche of certification distracters:

There were some big points of disagreement: (and I’m paraphrasing the Twitter stream here)

Matt’s response was that it’s a myth that SEO changes too rapidly for certification, that 90% of SEO is still the same today as 5 years ago.  “You think medical industry never changes? Law? Real estate? All industries change. Serious ones certify”.

“SEO industry needs to pull its head out & stop pretending what we do is special or unique and beyond certification. If they can train and certify people to do brain surgery or defend accused murderers, you can train & certify people to do SEO.

“Who would certify? An international organization that doesn’t yet exist. Also need standard training a la medical/law school. Most importantly, need non-selfish visionaries to recognize need and lead the way. We’re severely lacking in that dept. First thing is that industry has to want it. Then leaders can be found. Pointless to even try right now.”

Joe Hall’s response was a fair summation of much of the opposing sentiment, “the only thing that needs to be said is that certification will ruin this industry.”

This type of heated debate is what is needed in any professional environment.  There might be hotbeds of SEO’s in Seattle, New York, and Atlanta, here in upstate New York, we don’t quite have it.  I’d like to see that change.  It’s also one of the reasons that DragonSearch is hosting a “Hudson Valley Talent Meet-up”. Yes, we’re hoping to meet people who might be potential candidates for future jobs – but I’m also hoping to see an environment developed where professionals in the Hudson Valley share information, get into heated debates, and perhaps even join work together.  We might even be able to attract some talent from out of town.

Are you an SEO in the Hudson Valley? What are your favorite local resources? Would you like to see more networking events?