google-dance

The Wall Street Journal reports that Google has discontinued Google Dance, their annual search geek party at Search Engine Strategies. I attended Google Dance back in 2007 and was blown away by the scale of the free food, beer and events that Google organized for the search community.

While Google cites “cost-cutting efforts” as a reason for ending the dance, I interpret this as a sign that search marketing has grown up. The dance was started back in 2002 when search marketing as a discipline was in its infancy. In its emergence, Google Dance was a brilliant marketing tactic to incubate the industry as a whole and firmly entrench their brand at the top. They took a small search conference and made a blow-out event of it. At Google Dance, they plied search geeks with beer and dance parties, shuttling them from SES to the Googleplex to a chorus of hi5’ing Google search account managers for years.

Today, search marketing is well and truly established and the dance isn’t necessary anymore. According to MarketingSherpa, hiring skilled search marketers is not so hard these days:

Good help will always be hard to find, but locating someone with knowledge of SEM is getting easier as the industry matures. With nearly two-thirds of all respondents in 2009 reporting that it is “not difficult” to hire good help, it’s a blessing and a curse for search marketers, depending on which side of the equation they fall.

If you’re trying to grow a community, this is a great way to do it. Ending the dance is the equivalent of peeling the ‘Beta’ sticker off the search marketing industry.