a chip in the sugar
Try not to look like a country bug. Blend. Blend in.
- Flik, A Bug’s Life
The complexity of SEO, the forensic nature of parsing words and matching lines, is a hard sell. How do you describe it without sounding like Lou Grant, as opposed to a can-do service provider? PPC is transparent, measureable, a better market to focus on.
SEO versus PPC. Experiential versus rational processing. Intuition versus logic.
Once upon a time, there was no ‘versus’, no sound of a hair, splitting. Just SEO and PPC. Now, as the online market matures, limbs get minds of their own, and the question becomes, “Which would you prefer, working in organic search or working in PPC?” And I say, “Organic search” (because I’m trying to be cool). But I mean, “PPC” (because I need to eat).
And I also speak today, because I can’t help it, about the parallels I see in the evolution of the online marketing sector today, buffeted by a recession (petty distinctions among the econ gurus aside) as a mirror of the games development industry in 2000, buffeted by the dot com deflation.
Why Pay-Per-Click is Important
Pay-per-click marketing allows you to test in real time. Conversely, the more expensive the associated PPC ads are, the more value there is in performing SEO on a site in a paid niche.
Why Traditional SEO Consulting Tires Easily
In a frontier, we few settlers have the time and space to hold hands, to tame the beasties. With online marketing, the elastic mindshare stretches ever outwards, and how a client interacts with the media and people in their marketplace (and here I’m thinking particularly of social marketing, semantic search etc.), rapidly morphs as time delivers a consumer and producer net-literate family – we will watch our care grow surly, independent and, oddly enough (or maybe not oddly at all), conservative and risk-averse.
As SEO movers and shakers, then, our assumed mantle of progenitors will, as history teaches, count for nought; it will be up to us to change. Again.
But, here’s the thing: companies and corporates, for all their twittering on about flat management structures, are hierarchical, irrespective of how big the base or how shallow the pyramid. And I mention this because, at this stage in the evolution of the search marketing industry, the internal architecture of a company cannot accommodate what is, at this moment in time, an essentially horizontal agent – the SEO analyst. You can tell that companies are caught in the headlights of oncoming online traffic, because they invariably advertise for an online marketing manager “....reporting to the Marketing Manager.”
Ah lads, get a grip.
I have faced grown marketing managers across the mahogany tables of traditional sales and marketing lairs, lilac carpets bristling with empathetic static, as their watership down eyes peer into mine, pleading with me to answer that question normally reserved for their newly-appointed, crabbid-out CEO, but now commandeered almost exclusively on the appointment of an online marketing executive, “What the hell am I supposed to do with him....?”
Empathy is a shared keyword. You hear a lot of talk about empathy. Perhaps, as an online marketer, I can admit to valuing the relationship with the Client more than the relationship with the product. Liking the Client drives motivation. I wouldn’t worry about it – it’s a growing pain.
The point is, search results – the kind that the Client wants – are predicated on future, not current, ambitions. Marketing managers, and their staff – they implement based on what’s coming down the product pipeline. The Head of Search Marketing, on the other hand, is required to be at the conception of the new ambition, before the specifications are written, at the point where the Boss wakes up in bed in a cold sweat, turns, and, leaning over his (shhh, sleeping) Corporate Body, whispers to his online acquisition principal (who, convinced that he as ‘a bit of all right’, as opposed to being, quite literally, just ‘a bit on the side,’ is patiently consuming lines of shifting search engine algorithms under a night-light livid with the colour of validation), “I think I know where this is going to next.”
With marketing managers, size matters; we, on the other hand, console ourselves with the thought that it’s what you do with it that counts. Traditional marketers view adrenaline as a reward; we view it as a rival for our charms. Design versus dasein. A chip in the sugar.
Which reminds me: epistemology and metaphysics, logic, semantics – we need philosophers, not technologists (whatever they are). And still we repeat the sins of our forebears, when online games recruitment banged on about quote having a passion for gaming unquote, until it copped itself on and realised that what games development needed were full sets of feet to march forward upon, not more ingrown toenails. Perhaps even we can teach the old dog new tricks.
Less self-regard, more oxygen. To paraphrase William Goldman about another all-sex, zero-foreplay industry, nobody knows everything.
Why Traditional SEO Consulting Will Persevere
Businesses that value their online objectives will be clever enough to realise that you can internalise process, you can internalise implementation, but you must outsource strategy, you must outsource training, you must outsource mentoring, you must hold your nerve, be sufficiently confident to absorb externals telling you what needs to be done – and what doesn’t. The only people I know who can provide that level of service are people who value what they have learned from their mistakes more than their successes. Scars versus skills. SEO versus PPC.
Cor. And blimey.
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