No Repeat Business from Snake Oil Sales

I’m using another’s blog as my first opinion piece for Astute Marketing. Good, effective marketing comes from knowing who are your potential customers and getting your message to them.

If you’re looking for “get rich quick” methods or One Trick Ponies, you’ll almost certainly be looking for customers soon afterwards. Unfortunately, if you choose to dismiss SEO and SEM techniques from your toolkit, you’ll be looking for customers, too. It’ll just take longer before its obvious that you’re doing something wrong.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is definitely being pitched like Snake Oil and sold by some of the best Snake Oil Salespeople out there. Partly because it’s very important, partly because it’s somewhat archaic and partly because there is too much data and time involved in separating the meat from the bone.

Astute Marketing involves understanding the range of marketing methods and applying them in priority: least cost for most sales. Sometimes that method will be a trade show. Sometimes it’s a better email campaign. But…almost all of them should involve a bit of online, which includes SEO efforts for your web site.

I’ve posted my comment to the above SEO SnakeOil blog in my comment section…apparently the blogger isn’t interested in competing opinions.  🙂


One thought on “No Repeat Business from Snake Oil Sales

  1. Here’s my reply/comment to the snakeoil post, since the blogger doesn’t allow comments on his:
    Well. I have been telling my clients that the SEO/SEM market is definitely the ‘snake oil sales’ of our time.

    (Before I get started…I JUST completed an SEO bid, with page copy, SEO directives AND notes on why we did certain things, for a potential new client. If you want to see a copy, please contact me. I think you’ll learn something important.)

    The author of the original cited article in essence is saying: “you don’t need an expert to work on your car. The articles and manuals are all out there. None of the mechanics I use have ever even graduated from college. Instead of using a trained mechanic, since I was ripped off by one recently, I’d just give one of my son’s friends the manuals and ask them to dismantle the engine, bore out the block slightly and suggest any other mods that will result in making my Chrysler Sebring a ‘top ten’ performing car in its SCCA stock class.”

    And…he’s not too wrong conceptually, but he’s likely DEAD wrong in terms of time, money and effectiveness.

    First, he’s dead wrong saying ‘No one knows the algorithms, therefore no one can be an SEO expert.’ Look up a guy called Matt Cutts. Watch his videos. He tells you WHAT is important, he just doesn’t tell you the algorithm. How does he know? He’s the Google Guy for search engines. What? You didn’t even know those videos existed? Hmmm…maybe an expert does. BTW, SEO can’t be effective unless you really know how to track, MONITOR, and understand what your tracking code shows you. And…there are hours of video awaiting you to learn this critical piece of the puzzle. I’ve tried to get 6 unemployed college grad marketing people in my close network to spend the weeks watching those videos so I can take on, and farm out, more work. NONE have gotten through them because they’re “too boring…I’d go nuts if I had to do that all day”.

    Second, sure…all the articles are out there. There’s also lots of forums and such as well. You should also mix in a good dozen to three dozen blogs that are fairly well educated. WHICH are right? WHICH are trying to sell you ‘snake oil’? Do YOU want to weed through them? Do you trust your intern to pick them correctly? Because…if your intern falls into using one of the often “old tricks”, you may find your site’s ranking gets punished, not promoted. It does happen.

    Have you read Google’s recent shareholder letter? I have. They changed the algorithm 359 times during 2008. Some of those changes mattered to clients and some offered opportunity, some pain. Were your rankings affected? How did your site fair that week? Oh…you weren’t watching then? Maybe your intern was, so better ask him.

    I do SEO-oriented web edits on a weekly basis for clients. I have clients where their website traffic has doubled over six months. I have clients that used to be on the 6-7th pg and is now on the first page for the keywords that I showed them were important. HOWEVER, an understanding of SEO is a skill just like having good grammatical skills. All marketers should understand SEO basics, because no words should be put on a web page without knowing the search frequency vs. competition. This is just one of those areas that is critical and growing in importance.

    But…SEO doesn’t start with coding. It starts with really understanding what words YOUR potential customers use when trying to find a product that you make. I have NEVER had a client correctly provide the keywords that they should be focusing on. Sure…I’ve had CEOs tell me that they should be #1 on certain words and upset they aren’t. When I show them that the words they want only have a few hundred thousand people searching during the same time that 6 million people are searching for a similar product using less euphemistic words, they start to get it. (“Mr CEO, I know your product is ‘inexpensive’, but millions of people are searching on ‘cheap’ “.)

    As always, ask for documented results and check/get references.

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