What does this say about the SEO Industry?

What does this say about the SEO Industry?

by danperry on February 1, 2008

in Online Marketing

I was rifling through some fliers I collected at a conference recently, and ran across one that reminded me just how far we have to go as an industry. The company in question is Max Benjamin (maxbenjamin.com), who manufactures a “Mini Cigar Bar”, which holds a bottle of booze and a humidor, and all necessary accoutrement’s.

They must’ve had a little extra room on the flyer, and weren’t in the mood to write anymore copy about the Cigar Bar, so they decided to do what so many other small companies have done in the past. Here are a couple pictures:

Wannabe Internet marketing company

and a close-up of the bottom-right:

Wannabe Internet marketing company

(I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the spelling error above “Visit our webbiest…” Classic.)

So what are they saying? “Well, if the people aren’t interested in our product, maybe they’ll be interested in our online marketing skillz. Heck, anyone can do that, so let’s just add it to the end of the flyer, and see if we get any takers.”

What does it say about an industry when it can be added on as an afterthought to a flier? I’ve never seen a flier for a dentist have an extra sentence that reads “Ask us about our top-quality lawn-care services”, or a flier for a new car that reads “Don’t forget to ask us about our exceptional dry-cleaning services too!”

When your service industry can be added on to a product flier, and even remotely taken seriously, you’re in trouble. What does the manufacturer of this product think of this industry, to even attempt this? Forget about the suckers who may bite and not cut the line; what about the guys paying to print this?

More importantly, what can we do, as an industry, to alter this perception? I wish I had a good answer, but I don’t. Do you?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Silver Smith February 4, 2008 at 11:52 pm

It’s a real dichotomy, our industry. On one hand, most of the basic search optimization elements are brutally simple. Most sites don’t do properly friendly links to pages with good titles, H1s, Meta Descriptions, and body copy. Those are all pretty straightforward elements to address.

But, once you get past the basics, more advanced optimization tactics require a lot more subtlety and knowledge. So, this industry has a low barrier to entry, and not many people understand the subtle sophistication needed for advanced SEO.

There’s no quick way to address this, but it seems undeniable that the natural search marketing industry needs to promote itself a lot more aggressively out to the public in general.

Jagdish Parikh February 16, 2008 at 12:19 am

I think that what you described above points to issues beyond image of SEO industry. It appears that marketing industry is still in a state of denial about disruptive potential of the Net.

In 1999 Cluetrain manifesto wrote:

Networked markets are beginning to self-organize faster than the companies that have traditionally served them. Thanks to the web, markets are becoming better informed, smarter, and more demanding of qualities missing from most business organizations.

Today markets in corporate space and consumer products have begun to recognize that they have to listen to their customers. In some cases online marketing has gone beyond an afterthought to start becoming a key component of strategies to enter into emerging conversational space.

It is true that we have a long way to go. Many have yet to accept that markets have changed. Education / awareness about demanding nature of network marketing may change some. But I feel that arrival of disruptive practices is likely to bring more prestige and force marketers, publishers and others not to consider online marketing as an afterthought.

During early days few were willing to believe that a new site – like Google – with nothing other than search box can generate money from search results and create new opportunities for marketing. For example it took close to 10 years – since Google started new trends in search and marketing space – for newspaper industry to take online marketing seriously. In absence of disruptive influence of Google, Craigslist and others this wouldn’t have happened.

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