Pre-defined idea warriors. Are they really worth working for?
Well. This might be a controversial one.
I speak to a lot of people. I’m a prolific networker and end up in many different places talking about many different things. As a result I hear about lots of projects and ideas that are related to my own work – often on the premise of me giving a bit of free advice, just because I’m a nice guy.
Every now and then, I’m told about an idea, which I just know, will not work. Be it from experience, a technical reason or a logistical reason – not everything is theoretically sound. In a social setting, it’s perfectly easy to let people down gently, and the method is normally by providing an alternate solution. And from there our friendship soldiers on, wallowing in new found honesty and knowledge. Ahem.
Even rarer though, is a client, with a very clear and specific idea, based on knowledge that simply never was or no longer is, true. That little cookie is a very difficult one to deal with. It normally arises at some point during the sales process, whilst I am learning more about what they want, and they throw up an idea of what they want, and a pretty clear idea of how they want it to be done. Twice in the last month, this has happened to me with Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO. There is so much misinformation available about SEO techniques. A short list follows, to whet your appetite for fakery:
- Search Engine Submissions
- META tags
- Keyword Stuffing/Density
- Quantity of inbound links
- Pay Per Click being related to genuine SEO
These are snake oils. Some did have value in the past, but they simply do not now. Some are tidy and neat to have (META tags), and some are outright dangerous (high quantity/low quality inbound links).
So what do you do when you get a prospect (as in a client you do not have yet), that starts talking about how they want their SEO to work, and includes numerous naughty methods that genuinely have no chance of working? The conversation went something like this:
“Look, I need to sort out the keywords on the site, there aren’t enough of them, so we can be number one on Google.”
I pondered at the thought of immediately being number one on Google. “Number one for what?” was my first internalised question, but the resistance to argue was strong on that day. So I took the usual path, let the prospect down slowly, explain why it doesn’t work, and then offer an alternative solution.
In this case, it’s original content creation. Original content is the only way to successfully maintain an online presence for specific search terms. You have to write about them. Give users a real and honest reason to visit your website, and amazingly enough, they will come. What is so brilliant about this approach, is that the results are so sustainable. You may think this is common sense, but you would be amazed what some people think is appropriate. The internet is all about sharing of information. It is not about encouraging people to look at your website for something that you can’t actually give them, despite duping Google/Bing/Yahoo into saying otherwise.
So I told the client that we should first get him writing a blog. Nice and easy. Original articles with unique stories that would make potential customers think:
“Hey! That is interesting. I want to go there.”
So, I’d given an alternative solution, that we know works, right?! Yeah, it didn’t work out that way. Here’s how it went down:
“I don’t have time for that. I just want some proper keywords on the site to make sure I’m number one on Google. That shouldn’t be hard and shouldn’t require me wasting time on articles that I don’t want to write.”
This is what I call a pre-defined idea warrior. This person already knows exactly what they are doing, or so they think. I’ll remind you of something - we were approached for our expertise.
Let’s just say it’s not a job that I am pursuing aggressively.
Something I should add. We are not SEO experts. We build SEO friendly things, but SEO experts we are not. In fact, I would go so far to say that there is no such thing as a SEO expert. The basic premise is that you are trying to beat several, multi million and multi billion dollar businesses at their own game. No-one can do that consistently. There might be occasional exploits (link-building being the current trend), but it is well established that these things never last! I will continue this in a future post maybe, but proper, permanent and effective SEO takes time and effort. Be original, engage sympathetically with your target audience and the rest will come. That really is the cheapest and easiest way to do it.