In my latest interview, I sat down again with Seth Godin to talk about his upcoming keynote speech at SES Chicago on Tuesday December 4th. The session focuses on his new book, Meatball Sundae, and focuses on the confusing nature of today’s marketing opportunities.
One of the major components of the discussion that was particularly interesting to me was a discussion about SEO. Seth had offered some criticism of SEO in the past, and I wanted to see what his thinking was on the matter.
It turns out that the real criticism Seth has is not of SEO, or SEOs. It’s more focused on what happens when people start thinking that SEO is a magic bullet. I.e., take you online business, no matter how crummy it is, stir in some SEO, and presto change-o, you are raking in the dough. He goes on to say that the real challenge for all webmasters is what are they going to to present some new unique stuff to the world that people are going to want to see.
He then goes onto say:
I am just going to spend money, because I am a marketer hiring some guy to wave a magic wand to make something happen. And then, when the SEO people comeback and say here are ten recommendations, eight of which are about better stuff and two of which are about magic words and secret hyper-tags, all they do is take the other two, and leave the eight important ones off.
What I’ve been saying to people and mostly people who read my work or other clients is pretend it doesn’t exist. Do everything you can before you call on the SEO wizards to do the last part. Because, if you are not willing to do the first part, if you are not willing to put in the effort, it doesn’t matter how good they are, it’s not going to work. Somebody else who is doing the first eight steps will do better even if they don’t do the last two.
I have definitely seen some of this along the way as well. As an SEO, what I have learned to do is to qualify the willingness of a potential client to invest in the quality of their web site before taking them on. If they don’t seem willing to do that, we turn them away. No sense in taking on a client where we will not be successful.