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Ahh graduation. That lovely moment in July when all the graduates clear out of Manchester and we're suddenly able to get a drink on the Oxford Road corridor for 6 weeks, but we can't find anyone to come make cups of tea for free in the office in exchange for a reference. To think, all those graduates, all heading straight to London because that's the only place to get a job in SEO. And every year I wonder, why would anybody want an SEO job anywhere that isn't Manchester?
Here's my list of reasons that Manchester is the only place to do SEO:
- Manchester is a digital village*. We're like a tiny rural community where everyone's related. Except we're not related. Well, some of us are. But most of us aren't, except we've all worked with someone you've worked with, that is unless we've worked with you. Or in the same place as you. Basically, it's a small, closely-knit, community where everybody's probably 2 degrees of #mancseo rather than the fabled 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon. That is, unless they're less than 2 degrees.
- Beer is cheaper. OK, I'm not saying it's cheaper to drink here, than, say Wales or Scotland or some village out in Derbyshire, but it's certainly cheaper than London! So, when, say, you're having networking drinks with all those first and second degree connections in the old Manchester digital village you can actually afford to pay your rent still.
- Public transport. Ok, so the buses aren't frequent enough and the Metrolink only runs in 3 directions and breaks down if someone looks at the lines funny, but at least it isn't the Underground.
- Manchester bands vs. anything out of London - ours are tinged with dark northern drama and a sense of creative freedom. Ours reflect the unhinged creativity of this bleak northern wasteland. Enough said. Besides, everyone knows SEO is the same as being a rock star. Which rock star would you rather be? Pete Doherty or Noel Gallagher?
- Diet. The Manchester diet of beer, curry, pies and Almost Famous Burgers is far superior to any of that snooty Michelin-starred nonsense they have down south. And it's cheaper. On a stomach this full, you'll be up all night anyway, so you may as well be building some affiliate sites.
- Affordable housing. Sure, it'll be reclaimed warehouses near hipsters in Salford or the Northern Quarter - but you won't have to moonlight, and the best pubs in Manchester will be on your doorstep. You may want to buy a pair of red skinny jeans, grow a beard and get some vintage specs so you don't stand out. If you do, however, you'll suddenly find yourself very popular with all the freelance app developers and web designers, so you can outsource cheaply and stay local at the same time!
- Northern Digitals, #mancsas, #smc_mcr, BlogNorth, SErOllerDisco, etc. Ok, so I made the last one up. But there should be an SEO roller disco. Dudes, let's make it happen!
- Opportunity. We're growing up here at a phenomenal rate. By we, I mean digital businesses. There's loads of opportunity and loads of businesses looking for help and advice that don't want to spend the money to hire a London agency. Because the industry is growing so rapidly up here, there's opportunities for rapid advancement that you wouldn't find down South.
So, culture, food, jobs, savings, community - what more would you want, except maybe sun, warmth, better football teams...but you can't have everything. If you're in SEO, then I reckon Manchester is the only place in the world to be right now.
* Phrase first used by David Edmundson-Bird of MMU to describe Manchester.