The central focus of many SEO (define) efforts is reaching the right people with the right information at the right time. Third-party search engine marketing firms, many of whom work tirelessly helping clients consume information in the highly dynamic world of SEO, face many challenges.
Third-party vendors or agencies are often forced into difficult situations in helping disjointed entities, such as design and programming departments, communicate effectively and achieve compromise to procreate sound discipline and ultimately achieve victory over hypocrisy.
What if you were the one on the inside, making the moves? I've spent the last few weeks talking to in-house SEO folks about their daily frustrations in order to come up with a few best practices and identify problematic personalities. Here's a discussionmash of that dialogue.
Megalomaniac Entitlement Syndrome (MES)
The MES (pronounced "mess") brand of evil is easily identified as the "noob" with a passion for screwing up otherwise well-intentioned plans. The "noob" is not to be confused with the other form of new player, "newb," in a particular arena who actually has intentions of getting better in a particular discipline.
A "noob" is just in the game to create chaos for the sake of his or her ego. The megalomaniac usually carries a senior management title (hence the entitlement) and can be identified by making unusually arrogant requests of the in-house search specialist.
Such requests can be identified very easily and will include irrational, ego-driven demands. For example, having just received one's massage license, MES afflicted will demand to be number one in search results for said term and feel entitled to that position. The problem here: someone may actually promise the MES afflicted said position.
In-house SEO folks say the best way to counteract the effects of MES is to identify it early and treat it with a barrage of rational ideas. Sadly, many of the untreated MES afflicted end up either driving themselves or their staffs into a padded room.
Ill-informed Executive Decision Maker (IEDM)
Similar to the MES entry, the IEDM (pronounced "I-idiom") is identified by making nutty decisions armed with enough information to be dangerous. For example, the IEDM may say something like, "My brother-in-law knows all about that search stuff, and I hired him to help you."
According to many of the experts I spoke with, said brother-in-law is so poorly equipped to handle anything search related, he often causes nearly irreparable damage with his "advice," and the in-house SEO practitioner spends more time doing damage control than achieving results.
The IEDM is a massive delegator that has yet to learn the delicate art of delegating to competence, as opposed to incompetence.
Counteracting the effects on an IEDM can be pretty simple. Many accept the nepotism or favoritism as a part of doing business and simply ignore the advice of said consultant while implementing their own strategic plan.
Screwball Consultant Meltdown (SCM)
The SCM (pronounced "scum") is an affliction of the highest order that affects many in-house SEO folks who are either duped by consultants with a great sales pitch or have consultants forced upon them by IEDM's.
SCM is a progressive disorder that usually cannot be treated with early detection. Those affected by the SCM often don't see it coming. The consultants often bypass the in-house SEO practitioner and consistently attempt to undermine their efforts by abandoning contact protocols. They reach out to senior management directly and pile on unrealistic expectations, armed with misinformation.
There are few effective treatments for SCM, though the disorder has been linked to causative factors associated with the creation of IEDM's. Many have applied the IEDM treatment to SCM, though once meltdown has been realized, some never return from the abyss.
Matt Cutts Hater/Manipulator (MCHMr)
The MCHMr (pronounced M-C-hammer) spends all of his time reading Matt Cutts' blog and attempts to counter-engineer or circumvent the efforts of Googlers everywhere. The MCHMr views everything Google does as evil, and this psychosis has bled into other areas of his or her life.
You can identify the MCHMr by intermittent but consistent negative references to either Matt Cutts or other Google representatives. They will attempt to dissuade senior management from listening to logic and reason by suggesting that Google is simply furthering its own evil agenda.
To date, the best way to counter the MCHMr is to stay on top of the information produced by the Google team, cross referencing the information with your own logical conclusions, and citing that information in each tactical execution.
And Yet, It Still Happens
The world is changing but not as quickly as we would like it to. Believe it or not, I still get calls from brand marketers and site owners (names withheld to protect the desperately naive) asking for advice on the best "SEO software."
"SEO Software?" Nice one. While I am at it, I usually also pass along Batman's phone number and contact information for the Green Lantern, just in case.
At the end of the day, whether you are in the house or outside it, fighting the good fight is never easy. Though we don't do it enough, hat's off to the in-house SEO practitioners everywhere.
Kevin Ryan is off this week. Today's column ran earlier on Search Engine Watch.
Meet Kevin at SES Chicago from December 3-6.
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