I’m taking a break from work to write this (sorry boss but it is related!)
Basically I was reading about ‘SEO’, which for the uninitiated means ‘how I get my website to appear high up in google search’ and it turned up a lot of things.
A lot of people spend a lot of man-hours and money into ensuring that their site is ahead of the competition. How you do this is not clear with respect to google’s magic algorithm but they do give hints like: have guest bloggers to increase readership, contribute content, content is king, lots of words and pictures, share! Go viral! Integrate with pinterest/facebook/twitter/myspace/gravitar/whatever.com. Then they change the rules.
The reality is that like any computer controlled algorithm it has weaknesses due to the fact that it follows rules. To quote a man who knows a lot about computers:
“What you must learn is that these rules are no different than rules of a computer system. Some of them can be bent, others can be broken.”
The reality is that like any computer controlled algorithm it can be abused like the Matrix. People did – and still do.
Historically people would keyword stuff. This means that your site about selling bicycles would have keywords like ‘bikes, cycles and ‘helmets’
Then came ‘keyword stuffing’ so instead you’d have EVERYTHING to do with bicycles like ‘pedals, cycling, tour de france, pedal, bicycle chain, handlebars, bicycle pump, bicycle rack, bicycle seat, bicycle helmet, cycle chain, cycle pump cycle rack, cycle seat… ‘ The shotgun approach. This worked for a time.
Meta-keywords are still helpful but nowhere near as influential as they used to be because then they got smart. So then they wanted links.
John likes www.bicycle-bike-cycle-world.com so he links to it. Jane also links to it. This is a form of ‘endorsement’ and increases the chance that the website (with keywords in its url too!) would appear high on the search terms. Of course anyone could create a website and link to it. The Link Wheel Turned as people had multiple links to different pages on the same site. This (obviously) happened en masse. ‘Ruining it’ for everyone. So now links are somewhat important but not in the realm that they used to be.
More recently and to an extent currently it was/is ‘authority’. You cannot get or acquire this you must BUILD it. This maxim basically says:
It’s no good Bill Gates blogging anonymously as ‘MS98billyGee’. Sure he might know what he’s doing but no one knows it’s him so he has no authority on the internet until eventually people recognise him. (assuming he’s optimised at being found)
A bit like elections being won by people good at winning elections rather than the better politician, auteurs would blog, link, generate content about creating content (which is King in case you didn’t know!) and ultimately strive to create authority. In my mind I’m a bit biblical on the subject – you don’t get authority except from what you’ve been given from above. (Unfortunately god given authority doesn’t exist on the internet except on www.vatican.va!)
Essentially what looked like happening was a massive cluster-fuck of everyone stroking each others egos. That did happen by the way.
No more is this evident in marketing. In marketing people have a fear of missing out on the next big thing (FOMO/fear of missing out) more than anyone. It is an extension of ‘keeping up with the Jonses’. Capitalism distilled into fear.
Marketing ‘experts/gurus/ninjas’ all say ‘content is king’. That’s fine. Do they have authority to say this? If they have do they need to explicitly say that they are ‘experts/gurus/ninjas’ (or the one I really hate ‘rainmakers’ ?) Wouldn’t people have heard of them?
The reality is that marketing is not a science; it’s about transmitting information to an audience in a way that engages them. How you do that is highly variable. All information is transmitted in some medium, this much is obvious. But if we change the word medium to ‘content’ then we’ve got a great idea that we can bang on about ad infinatum! Yay! Remember to communicate about selling the medium you’re communicating to people in to communicate to them about communication.
Recently there was a conference in Dublin about marketing. I looked at it and thought ‘ZOMG KMN’. I later read in Private Eye (the best piece of journalism in the UK) that although the word ‘content’ was mentioned over 180 times there wasn’t much elaboration on what that might actually comprise of. (I wrote about this at length here)
Long story short marketing is about graft. People like stuff. Send letters about your latest deal. That’s content being delivered to an audience. It might actually require engaging with physical objects though. Hold webinars – that’s content giving information but requires some setup.
Dicking about boosting your SEO ranking and sharing your pals blogs doesn’t actually get you very far.