When did our industry turn into this charade?
- Big agencies indoctrinating us on what is right and what is wrong.
Is that good? Is that bad? I don’t know, but do we need it? We should be focusing more on what’s right for our clients and their business.
- Small agencies stealing valuable information from their competitors and shamelessly outranking them with a copycat website.
Suddenly, protecting ourselves against negative SEO is a thing. When you search for “negative SEO” the first result is a YouTube video on how to harm competitors websites. Sick. In addition to that, there are tons of agencies offering negative SEO services. Double sick.
- Writers who have clearly no experience in online marketing sharing their nonsense on popular newspapers for everyone to read.
No need to explain how difficult it might be to deal with a client who’s read stuff like “SEO is dead. Long live social media optimisation” on The Guardian and wants to halt all SEO processes. How did we get there? Of course, many freelance journalists will write about anything, but could it be that we are to blame for promoting this “X is dead” bovine excrement?
And right in the middle of all that, a bunch of marketers actually doing their job -Thank [insert deity here] for that…
Yesterday I woke up to Donnie Strompf’s response to a series of “X is dead” kind of articles and it got me thinking about our industry –you should definitely read his article, by the way. It looks like we’ve come to a point in which we’re constantly looking for a shortcut that will solve all of our problems and, in the never-ending search for that divine solution, we spend a great deal of time reading blogs and reaching out to influencers on social media.
Is this really the smartest way we could improve our processes?
Pseudo-disclaimer: As an active social media user and avid reader of industry blogs, I won’t separate myself from the group that I’m criticizing.
Why don’t we take a look at ourselves instead of feeding The Gurus?
I know of agencies who will start selling a new service to their clients (*cough cough* content marketing *cough*) the minute they read about it on Search Engine Land, without even testing their own ability to carry on with such techniques. What is more, they might not even think about their clients’ needs before readjusting the sails on their online marketing ships for them. I don’t know about you but I think that’s pretty insane, immoral and unfair on their clients.
Blindly following “The Gurus” will make you forget about what you’re doing here. How can they know what your client needs if they don’t even know your client exists? And how can you put your clients’ future into their hands? Weren’t YOU the one who was supposed to help these businesses grow? Consider that.
It’s hard for me to think of myself as a marketer because I have no formal training in marketing but even I know that if you don’t spend time working with your client, you won’t get anywhere nor will their business. And yet here we are, fostering our relationship with big names that might land us some more clients we will later ignore.
We’re in love with the idea of someday becoming influencers
Having a blog is a great way of connecting with your clients, if you don’t believe me check out Mack Web Solutions’ blog. Yet we’re too busy trying to impress our peers blog post after blog post. Why do we do that? What is the point?
A couple of days ago @Jennita started this discussion on Inbound.org asking female marketers why they weren’t participating in the community. Most responses included the fact that they didn’t have the time to actively engage with other members. There were several comments about sexism in the industry but I believe that it’s not about that at all, most of us are just too busy. In my case, being an active member of Inbound.org is not a priority during work hours. I do consume content and share articles with the community but I don’t stay around to discuss, possibly because I normally discuss within blog comments or on social media. Could it be that men are fiercer competitors who instinctively have the need to prove that they are experts in what they do? Who knows…
SEO conferences are a great example of how we are moving away from knowledge on our hunt to connect with industry leaders for the sake of networking. That was a big problem for me when I attended BrightonSEO because there was a point in which people were talking so loudly that it was hard to listen to what the speaker was saying.
Back to the roots (or the power of actually doing your job)
It’s time to refocus our energy on providing an outstanding service to our clients and spend less time showing off.
Modesto Siotos once told me that “too much focus on clients runs the risk of remaining anonymous” and I agree. Actually, that’s exactly my problem. I bet most of you don’t know what is it that I do for a living, especially now that I’ve quit my job at the agency and switched to “freelance mode”. Without a doubt that’s my fault for not sharing more with the community but I’m working on it.
Sharing with others and participating with our peers has many benefits but sometimes I feel like we’re overdoing it. In the same discussion on Inbound.org, Caroline Phillips mentioned something that it’s worth repeating:
“The SEO community is very supportive, but it’s also very insular. People tend to invite the same speakers, share the same people’s articles, reply to the same tweets and reinforce the same ideas and people.”
In addition to that, we’re now dealing with a huge amount of self-promoters who see every social channel/community as a mere promotional tool. This is not a problem associated exclusively to Inbound.org, I feel the same way about SEO subreddits. As a result, instead of building bridges, we’re burning them down one share at a time.
I’m not saying we should ditch the networking and go back to the caves. But let’s shift our attention to contributing over networking, and we’ll achieve so much more. Contributing with our community is a way of giving back and sharing knowledge that could be useful to others. Max Minzer’s Hangouts are a living proof of that. There’s a time and a place for business networking and personal brand building.
Our job is to grow our clients’ businesses but many of us are too focused on getting our name out there to realize that. We need to stop this.