Who has Time to Waste?
In most careers, you’ll hear someone groan, “There’s never enough time in the day!”
While it probably seems to be true at times, I think the fact of the matter is, we often aren’t managing our time well. Sure, you can argue that we have many more things to do these days than was the case 100 or 200 years ago. But by the same token, most of the things that had to be done on a daily basis back then, are now done for us. I’ve had to chop wood, or the house would have no heat, and there’d be no way to cook or heat water. It’s a great way to spend a week or two roughing it, but a bit of a drag when it’s a matter of day-to-day survival.
In those days, people had to manage their time. With no electric lights, they had to get as much as possible accomplished while the sun shone. If they got sidetracked and didn’t chop any wood, they ate a cold meal and shivered through the night. There are always trade-offs, huh?
Today, we’re relieved of those burdens, but we have others to take their place. Mow the lawn, wash the car, clean the microwave… and don’t forget taking the kids to school, band practice and friend Johnny’s birthday party. An hour’s commute each way for work, shopping trips, standing in line at the DMV… these things add up, too.
Plus, the nature of our work, for those of us in the SEO/IM fields, dictates that we spend a lot of time doing keyword research, traffic analysis, performance reports, copywriting… that list can go on and on, as well.
So really, while our situation is technically different, it’s conceptually the same as that shared by our great grandfathers. There’s just not enough time in the day.
The solution for them was to manage their time effectively, and the same will work for us. We can’t afford to waste precious time on activities that don’t yield the benefit needed. We need to ensure we’re getting the biggest bang for the buck, all day, every day.
I’d say it’s highly unlikely that the webmasters of whitehouse.gov or google.com are spending much time on linkbuilding. Why bother, right? They have more productive things to do with their time. Each of us is in the same boat, time-wise. We need to figure out what will serve us best, and get on with it, because there are other tasks waiting for our attention.
That’s one of the biggest reasons that it’s so important to be able to sort through all the nonsense and determine what can work for our sites and how to make it work. We have to cast aside the pie-in-the-sky notions of silver bullets, never-before-shared-secrets, guru tactics and other assorted snake-oil offerings, so that every moment is well spent.
The process of sorting through all that garbage is really mostly common sense. Like the old saying goes, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” I’ve heard some really good ideas from people, that were new (at least to me) and exciting, but they come along at the rate of about 1 out of 3,000. Face it – there are no secrets or silver bullets. New workable techniques may pop up now and then, but very infrequently. And when they do, they’re all just common sense.
We put this question to our contributors:
3. What is the one aspect of internet marketing that you feel is most counter-productive?
Myopic SEO. Or for Twitter, #MyopicSEO.
It’s a phrase I coined at SMX Advanced this year during my Google Survivor Tips panel. It’s magic bullet madness, stuck-in-the-mud, fails to anticipate where search is going, and ultimately doomed to suffer the consequences as search engines improve their ability to detect it. Panda victims were a great case study on Myopic SEO techniques.
Corporate blogging. Unless there is some really interesting story to tell, it’s usually wasted time.
Cheap, spun and/or poorly written articles. The major search engines and Internet users in general are getting more sophisticated and poorly written content no longer passes muster. It is quickly identified and passed over.
Sadly, the wealth of information available about our profession over the last three to five years. With superfluous outlets of information, hundreds/thousands of different voices with differing opinions, it creates diffusion amongst the general populous. In a sense, our information overload creates the same end result as if we were to shroud the entire industry in a blackout blanket. To quote Pink Floyd: “Who knows which is which, and who is who.”
I think every aspect of internet marketing has its own strengths and advantages. It’s about finding the right mix of activities that fit with the client and their message. Some channels just don’t work well for some clients, and this needs to be recognised. Doing all types of IM just for the sake of it isn’t helping businesses perform better.
Getting distracted by shiny new objects and shifting direction based off the winds of the latest algo change.
I see a lot of focus on social media to provide customer service. That’s nice, but to me, it’s like asking people to walk into your store and scream if they have a problem. I’d rather see customer service be handled well through dedicated customer service channels, so that social media isn’t some sort of escape valve.
Counterproductive internet marketing for me is the time wasted on worrying what your competitors are up to instead of concentrating on what you can improve.
Social networking; there are too many platforms to really get the most benefit. Therefore, picking quality over quantity in a campaign approach will give you more value.
Obsessing over new channels (G+ for example) rather than meeting audience needs with content… Also the echo chamber of content created not from actual experience but from reading the work of others.
Ah, this is an easy one – and that’s “chasing the search engine algorithm.” People get so focused on “gaming” Google that they ignore everything else. They build out strange content and linking strategies and walk the spammy SEO line. Eventually, most companies fall off the line and into Google’s spam pit…so it’s never a smart long-term strategy plan.
In particular for clients with small budgets, putting too much focus on social media where they would be better off investing in a forward compatible, usable, accessible and attractive website along with great on-site SEO, keyword research and a well optimised Google Places profile.
The focus on quantity. Clients always want more Twitter users, more Facebook followers, more traffic. Emphasizing quantity of valueless metrics draws everyone’s attention away from the real goal, which is almost never proportionally linked to those metrics.
Social – IF it’s not handled correctly. If you don’t know how to evaluate a platform, or if you’re one of those continually jumping on the newest bandwagon this and network that, you can quickly end up in social meltdown. From experience, 3 to 4 social accounts seems to be the most one person can competently handle before some of the quality interaction is lost.
I believe that banner advertisements are a serious waste of time and effort because current measurement strategies such as impressions and Click-Through-Rate (CTR) fall short of painting the complete picture. Additionally, industry standards for banner advertising is 0.15%- this number is so abysmally low when compared to other channels such as Search or Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. From a Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS) standpoint, it does not make sense to drop a huge chunk of a client’s marketing budget into this channel when a) it’s not tracked effectively and b) media penetration is poor.
Talking about Internet Marketing. There are way more people talking about internet marketing then those doing it. Talking is a waste of time.
As much flack as I’ll get for saying this, reactive ORM. It’s one thing to get control of the SERPs for your name or your business name, but when you need to get control of it to cover something up it gets a little ridiculous. An apology goes a long way, but not everyone wants to apologize or even own up to the fact they screwed up. So instead they call someone to clean up their mess. I think time spent fixing that could be spent owning up to the issue and admitting any short comings and making a mends to get past the issue. It would be even better if those companies had an outstanding customer service team to handle any and all complaints. Focus on giving your customers a controlled place to vent so they can get the help they need. But you have to provide awesome help. Sure, some competitors may start a flame war, but that’s not the time to react to control it. Instead focus on doing good business and eventually people will recognize the different screen names complaining all have the same tone and grammatical mistakes. Putting out fires short term will affect your long term goals as a business.
I’m tempted to say other internet marketers, but I don’t want to alienate 80% of the internet as I’m a nice guy. I think on this occasion I will go for… other internet marketers (I’m not bothered about being “liked”, I prefer to call it as I see it).
Specifically I mean the get rich quick pundits and other associated “snake oil salesmen” who have undeniably got skills when it comes to thinking up ideas and products, but who prey mercilessly on the uninformed and desperate masses to churn out something that promises the world and delivers nothing but a plateful of false hope and lost time.
Rank tracking is the most counter-productive aspect of internet marketing, in my opinion. So, you are ranking #1 for some keyword – so what? Yes, high ranking brings you traffic, but what are you doing with this traffic? How high is your ranking page bounce rate? Do people find that page useful? How much money is it making for you?
Ranking tells us only a part of the story – the page’s reputation among search engines. A better story is, can that page be a breadwinner. Track revenue, not ranking.
The most counter-productive aspect of internet marketing today is the “us against them” attitude I see played out ‘in the community’ when media ‘outside the community’ turns its gaze upon it. Instead of reaching out to mainstream media and traditional marketing associations to improve understanding of the methods and tactics used, and to broaden the spectrum so that internet marketing becomes part and parcel of ‘traditional marketing’ – as it should by this point be – most seem to want to close up the gates and lob missiles. Marketing is marketing. The fundamentals remain relatively the same regardless of the channel or platform. The “us against them” mentality is not only immature, but incredibly counter-productive in moving the industry forward as a whole.
Marketers (and especially their bosses/clients) are often not driven or even influenced by data. Sometimes, this is a collection problem (e.g. getting data about how many converting visitors were, at one point, exposed to a given channel, even if that wasn’t the direct referrer), but oftentimes it’s a cultural approach to marketing driven by years of experience in the offline and branding world (where measurement/analytics are much less prevalent).
I hope in the future, marketers and businesses embrace data as a way to make decisions and attempt new investments.
I would say the incorrect use of social media. Social Media can be an excellent tool to add to your marketing arsenal… when used correctly. Let’s face it, we all have so much stuff to get to and accomplish during our workday that it can be difficult to find that extra time each day to get on social media sites.
If you are strapped for time and you are not going to take the time to use social media channels in a way which provides you with the most benefit, you might as well spend that time doing something more productive.
Now I don’t recommend ignoring social media – it really is an invaluable tool. Just use it correctly and avoid common mistakes. A mistake I see too often is over-automation. Don’t automate all of your social media campaigns so your blog auto posts to your Facebook and your Facebook auto posts to your Twitter and your Twitter feed is auto-posted to your LinkedIn account, etc etc. Who will want to follow you on each of these accounts if they are all the same robotic messages?
Spend your time wisely. Make personal connections with people, reach out to others and answer questions. Be authentic.
In all honestly, I can go on and on talking about what to do and what not to do with your Social Media campaigns. If you are seeking some great advice then I recommend checking out Social Media Consultant Justin Parks’ blog or the advice Francisco offers over on Socialmouths.
Arguing with other SEOs about what works and what doesn’t work. I’ve come to the conclusion in the last few years that there are many paths to the same goal. It all depends on the niche, the competition level and the goals of the client. In some areas a pile of directory links is all you need, then at the other extreme you are building dozens of feeder sites, creating unbranded authority sites or even just hammering out hundreds of thousands of junk links. (yes, this does work in some niches).
In many discussions about tactics and techniques you end up with a polarized group arguing about the competence of another group while all the time not knowing what the niche is, what the competition levels are and most certainly what the client’s goals are. Getting deeply involved in these “discussions” is easily the most counter-productive thing you can do as an SEO.
People believing that writing and submitting articles to article sites, particularly if they submit the same article to a number of sites, is going to help build quality backlinks. (Create a Link Building Strategy. Since the Panda update these article sites lost their standing in the search results. To me spending time building quality content for your own site and working on some other marketing task that suits your target market would be more productive use of your time.
Creating overly complicated and sophisticated data reports. This could be about anything from rankings to analytics data. The result is the same – they pull so much data, look at so many different components that they don’t know what to do with all that data. So many marketers are focusing on the quantity of data they are pulling, and not the quality of it.
Creating reports that nobody read. The system can be as simple as “something’s wrong” “everything’s normal” and “Something good happened”. Or “you made this much money this week from your website” but people seem intent on keeping ranking reports alive.
Self-proclaimed gurus, if you believe your own hype or stop learning, then you are inevitably going to hurt yourself and clients. Only through trying out new things can you go forward.
One aspect of internet marketing that I would like to see disappear is the temptation for some people to pursue low impact initiatives to influence search results or visibility on the Web.
I’m tired of deleting comment spam from my site where people enter keywords into name fields and contribute meaningless or minimal comments that add little. I’m tired of blocking or reporting fake twitter accounts and social media spam. I’m not alone.
Companies offering bulk Google +’s, fake verified Craig’s List Accounts, and fictitious social media profiles aren’t offering marketing services, but instead are committing fraud.
You can begin with Chapter One of Critical Thinking for the Discerning SEO here.