It has been no big secret in the industry that when Danny Sullivan left Incisive and Search Engine Strategies that he basically pledged his allegiance to Danny and his Search Marketing Expo conference series, as is his personal right to do. Matt has been at Google long enough that he can pretty much dictate when and where he speaks, I just can’t imagine Google telling him he has to speak at specific conferences (a perk of being Google employee number 12 or whatever he is).
But then something pretty surprising happened last week. When SES kicked off this week in San Francisco (which was formerly SES San Jose, which was famous – and infamous – for the Google Dance that Google hosted for attendees each year) Twitter suddenly lit up with tweets from people announcing that Matt Cutts would be doing a keynote on the second day. Pretty big news – and something I had suspected could possibly happen with all of Danny’s anti-Google rants and stance lately. So it was surprising – yet not surprising – that Matt was back at SES.
But probably even more interesting was the fact that Danny was so concerned about this deflection of loyalty from him (probably thinking Matt would always be in his camp) that he actually decided to change his travel plans and the last minute and flew in that night (apparently from the East Coast), just because of Matt’s keynote the following morning. And concerned he should be. Matt rocked it out on stage, answered plenty of questions. But the most interesting part of the whole thing? Somehow Mike Grehan got Danny Sullivan up on stage, which was either the most brilliant move ever or the dumbest – you have to wonder if Danny agreed to it or if it just as a last minute thing. Danny did seem to be a bit shell shocked and he actually let Brett Table from WebmasterWorld ask Matt more questions than he did, which if you know Danny, is pretty shocking in itself.
Matt actually spoke for most of the time at this keynote, despite sharing the stage with three other people – far more than he was able to when he shared the stage with Danny alone at SMX Advanced, although to be fair, Danny monopolized quite a bit of that conversation (because everyone wanted to hear Danny rant on his link tangent for 15 minutes , well actually 7 minutes for the entire rant itself, but listening it seems so much longer, instead of getting actual useful information out of Matt Cutts – um, NOT!) Danny does seem to like being the original SEO Rock star, although recently he seems to be playing the part of an aging rock star grasping for any glory he can get, even if it means opening for a newer, hotter band. And to be honest, when Matt Cutts is in the room, he has all the star power, despite Danny’s obvious thinking otherwise. Danny wants to be the one with the tiara and sash that everyone admires and goes ooh and ahh over – and in blog posts too- because any news is good news, right?
When it was over, Matt gave far more information at SES than any other conference in recent history, perhaps even all the SMX Advanced events combined. Was this intentional? Or was it simply that all the right questions coincidentally came up? Is it a feather in the cap for SES and Mike Grehan? For sure. Could we see Matt at future SES events? I sure as hell hope so, it is refreshing to see Matt speaking when it isn’t the Danny show – even though Danny had to party crash his old event. And you can bet that many of those who cover industry news sure as hell wished they didn’t decide to skip SES San Francisco – particularly with some of the tripe that certain bloggers were spewing based on rumor instead of facts. But that is for another post!
What do you think about the whole SES vs. SMX thing? Where do you pledge your allegiance? Or do you just want to go where Matt goes (even though webmasters might not want to admit that publicly!)