Online Marketing: Statement vs. Reality
Hey ladies and gents! If you’ve ever thought about hiring an SEO or online marketing agency – or maybe you’re already working with one – you’re sure to have heard a lot of interesting sounding statements. But let’s face it – online marketers spend so much time in their industry bubbles that sometimes it can be hard to discern what exactly they’re saying. Let’s dig deeper into some commonly used phrases you’re sure to be hearing and get the truth behind the matter.
Statement: “We do content marketing”
Reality: ”Our entire link building program consists of guest blogging.”
Explanation: I know it’s confusing, but for the great majority of online marketing firms, “Content Marketing” is defined by producing semi-useful blog posts to be placed on websites that virtually nobody will ever actually visit. While they may occasionally suggest that you produce an infographic or send you the odd e-mail full of “fun ideas” they had for videos, rest assured: they wouldn’t have the foggiest idea of how to move forward even if you accepted these proposals.
Statement: “We’ve prepared a content calendar for your blog.”
Reality: “Here are a collection of sensational sounding titles written by a guy with a computer science degree after a five-minute internal focus group and a few hours spent reading YOUMoz.”
Explanation: The whole shift to content caught much of the online marketing industry, which consisted of a lot of tech-heads and programmers gone rogue, by surprise. In the aftermath (and thanks to many motivational keynotes at annual conferences), these guys have had it drilled into their heads that they are fit (and required!) to instruct a company in the ways of tone, voice, audience and message. Smile, nod and then hire a capable copywriter.
Statement: “We’re really focused on post-penguin strategies”
Reality: “We got massively burned by Penguin and we’re not entirely sure what to do next, but we think it might be guest blogging”
Explanation: Penguin torched an awful lot of well-meaning SEO’s. In an effort to show you that they are not at all like the last company you worked with, who built forum profile links and spun content and mass-spammed blogs, they will try to demonstrate how forward thinking they are by mentioning that yes, they did indeed hear about the latest update. They likely won’t tell you that two small business clients no longer rank for their brand names.
Statement: “We’ve only ever done White-hat link building”
Reality: “We are liars.”
Explanation: Any SEO who has been in the industry more than five minutes has a skeleton in their closet. If you want to kick up the dust on an incredibly benign debate, mention how building or manipulating ANY kind of link for the purpose of ranking is technically black hat. Grab your popcorn and hop in your recliner – you’re going to be there awhile.
Statement: “We’re all about building your brand.”
Reality: “We learned that spouting vague platitudes helps you trust us.”
Explanation: SEO’s at large suffer from delusions of grandeur where they actually believe that they’re capable of usurping your entire marketing department and seizing control of each and every function of that department. Let them persist in this delusion by stating how excited you are to hear that, then gently pointing out that you’re already working with a traditional agency/PR firm/internal marketing team but “would be happy to loop them in”. They’ll go wild at this point, probably sighing in relief on the inside since they won’t actually have to try to demonstrate their half-baked brand building abilities (most of which consist of blog posting).
Statement: “The competition has really increased in your vertical”
Reality: “We have no clue as to why your rankings dropped and this is the most feasible excuse we can offer while we search for an explanation.”
Explanation: To be fair, SEO is kind of a slippery animal; a lot can happen and it can be difficult to understand exactly why some things transpire. Send them an e-mail telling them that you completely understand, but look forward to hearing more details as far as exactly how the competition increased and why. You’ll scare the hell out of them.
Well! That was fun.
Hopefully you’ve got a better picture of what it is your agencies and contractors actually mean when they’re busy flapping their gums! If demand is there, maybe I’ll publish a few more of these insightful little looks into the dizzying world of lingo, smoke and mirrors that online marketing is. Until then: