Are Friends Electric?

In case you happen to be thinking “how can Julie work a song by Gary Numan into a post?” here you go…the title is my favorite Gary Numan song (Gary rules! go watch his stuff on YouTube) and since I’ve been working over in London this week with some of the best people on the planet, I thought I’d address the topic of how easy it is to become insulated when you’re doing SEO.

If you wanted to, you could make good money doing SEO without ever seeing another human being. You can learn enough to get started by reading blogs, posting to forums, and communicating with other SEOs via email, instant messenger systems, or phone calls. You can write your content, throw up sites, run PPC campaigns, and provide clients with their reports all without ever meeting them.

Most of the interaction that I have with other SEOs and clients on a daily basis is conducted over IM and email. I have all my favorite blogs in a feeds folder in my mail account and I check a few new sites and blogs every day as well. I chat with colleagues about anything interesting that’s happening in the industry and I email in completed assignments and FTP new code. This is quite fun until I actually see all these people in person and realize how much you can miss by not interacting with like-minded SEOs on a frequent basis.

I’m going to drop names here because it’s my feckin’ blog and I’m proud to know these people who are brilliant at SEO AND amazingly fun and fantastic friends. I went out with Jay Young (the Big Kahuna of Str0ud SEO Consulting and my husband), my wonderful co-blogger and winner of the “feistiest Viking I know” award, Lisa Ditlefsen (just ask anyone who’s ever met her), king of high school pranks and Ruby on Rails programmer Tony Spencer, and the perfectly British angel Rob Kerry the other night here in London and in between a tiny amount of drinking (because we are very sensible people when drinking) in Southwark, we actually had some incredible SEO discussions.

I don’t get to see all these people very often since we live all over the world, but even though we’re all close friends and we can talk about everything under the sun, it’s still nice to discuss our passion for SEO. I’ve also been able to see my favorite Bulgarian, Anita Chaperon of PPCQueen fame (now Reviewlicious goddess), and her lovely husband the Super Affiliate Andre Chaperon (who is VERY tolerant of the giggling that ensues when Anita and I get together) this week, as well as the absolutely brilliant bringer-together of good SEOs Mike Nott and Mr. Hipster himself, Ekrum Ashgar (sometimes known as Mahoud.) Seeing them all in person has renewed my desire to pick up on a few projects I had recently considered, and I’ve spent the week getting back some of the excitement that I’d lost over the last few months.

There’s always something new in SEO, with new people to meet and new algorithms to conquer. This CAN be done online, but I doubt it will spark the same flame in you. I’ve said before how critical it is to go to conferences and network, but not everyone can do that. So what do you do? Find a local SEO whom you’ve never met (I actually met Esrun for the first time this week–god knows I love a blackhat SEO) and arrange to meet. Start a local SEO group or, my personal favorite, come out to the next London SEO (which happens to be THE most fun group of SEOs you’ll ever meet) and see why the Brits are renowned for drinking. Just find someone else to talk to face to face. If you’re lucky enough to work with other SEOs and they’re GOOD, go find some more and teach them something, mentor them, point out their mistakes and learn from them as well. Conducting your life online is convenient many times but in the end, sitting down and sharing some Thai food with like-minded people has some major benefits. Word of warning: Rob Kerry hates vegetarians so expect lots of heckling if you order tofu.

SEO Chicks Julie Joyce and Lisa Ditlefsen right before they got into a fistfight over cake.

The always adorable Rob Kerry, aka evilgreenmonkey, putting on a brave face after spending the entire evening with Julie and Lisa.

Lisa being forced out into the night while the rest of us talk bad about her and prepare to flee in case she can read lips.

Tony Spencer smiling in hopes that someone outside will come in and rescue him from Lisa’s anti-Republican Viking rant.

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