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Run Away Fast When You Hear ‘Digital Marketers’ Say This

One of the things that really, really irritates me about my industry – SEO, the search engine optimisation industry – is the people who think they’re brilliant at SEO, and they’re not afraid to tell other people that they think they’re brilliant at SEO.

Now, if you are really good at something like this, it shouldn’t be necessary for you to go around and inject yourself into every conversation and tell people how good you are at it. It should really be a case of that if you are really good at it, somebody is going to find you because that is what you are good at, therefore they are finding you because you are good at it in the first place.

Now, a case in point. There’s a WhatsApp group that I am in – it’s a marketing WhatsApp group full of marketing people, with professionals on copywriting, digital marketing, pay-per-click and video, all that kind of thing. It’s made up of marketing professionals around the world, not just around the UK.

So, there’s one guy in this group, and whenever anybody comes in and asks “oh does anybody know anything about SEO in here, has anybody got you know any sort of expertise on SEO, I’m looking for somebody who’s really good at SEO”, he immediately comes in and replies and tells them how great he is at SEO by giving examples of how good he is at SEO.

However, the things he gives them examples of are… well, let’s just say they’re a little bit ridiculously stupid. So, he’ll come in and he’ll say “this is a made-up example now, because if I gave a real example, you’d be able to Google it and find out who I am, and I don’t want that to happen because I don’t want to start some sort of flame war here do I? So, I’m going to give a fictitious example”.

So, he’ll come in and he’ll say “yeah, I’m really good at SEO, all you need to do is Google me and you’ll find that I rank number one in Google for the ‘best SEO web design agency in north London’”. And it’s like – the best SEO web design agency in north London? Just out of interest, how many people are actually searching for that?

For us, how many people are searching for the best SEO web design agency in north London, other than you obviously, and the people who you tell that you’re the best SEO web design agency in north London and that you rank number one for that, so that they then go on to Google and search for it?

The thing is, nobody is ever going to be searching for such a specific long phrase as that, so going around telling people that you rank number one for this particularly long, cumbersome, unorthodox phrase that no b*gger in the universe is actually going to be searching for. It’s kind of pointless bragging about that, because I could say that I rank in Google for “Darren Jamieson who runs Engage Web and does SEO all the time”. Obviously I’m going to be there for that, because that’s my bloody name, that’s what I do and that’s the name of the company.

If you pick a really, really specific phrase and you rank for it, yeah, that’s great. Good for you, well done, that’s absolutely fantastic – I’m really pleased for you, give yourself a f***ing medal! But, to then go around bragging in groups to people who don’t know any better because they’re asking for advice on this, to go around bragging in these groups and telling people “hey, look at me, I ranked number one for this particular phrase, aren’t I the absolute best? I know everything about this, look how fantastic I am! Look how I rank for this, whoa yeah I’m brilliant!”

It gets on my nerves, quite frankly, because if you have to go around and tell people that you rank number one for a phrase, then there’s probably not much point you ranking number one for that phrase. If you rank number one for a phrase that people are actually looking for, then funnily enough they’re going to find you, and therefore you don’t have to go around telling people that you rank number one for that phrase.

If you’re actually really good at SEO – if you’re really good at it – you don’t have to tell people you’re really good at it, because they’ll know you’re really good at it. Because when they’re looking for things that you do, problems that you solve, they’ll find you, and therefore your work does the talking.

So, it really bugs me when someone evangelises themselves in this way by going around telling people “hey look, I’m fantastic at this, I’m the guy you want to talk to, I’m the guy that knows everything about this, I’m the guy that’s going to solve this for you because look where I rank for this really specific long phrase that nobody’s ever searching for apart from me to check that I rank for it, and now that I’ve just told you that I rank for it, you therefore are gonna go look for it and go ‘oh yeah, you do rank number one for it, well done, you are brilliant, you are absolutely brilliant!’”

I just don’t understand why people like this think they are really good at something when they’re not. They just happen to have stumbled upon something that’s not difficult to rank for and are using that as a tool to tell other people they’re really good at it. So, I think the moral of this rather annoyed little rant is that just because somebody says they’re good at something and gives you evidence that they are good at something, don’t take their word for it that they are really good at it.

If they do rank for what they said they’re going to, how much business are they actually getting from this? How many people are finding them for something that’s actually searchable, something that’s actually competitive? How many clients are they able to help with something that is actually useful to be searched for, rather than just going around telling people how great they are because this is what they do?

I’ve tried – I’ve tried really, really hard – not to engage with this person. I really have, I’ve tried not to engage with him because every piece of advice that he gives in this little group is completely contrary to how I know, not how I believe, digital marketing should be working.

One piece of advice, for example, he gave somebody about a month ago, and it took every fibre of my being not to reply to this. He was telling people how he doesn’t use content because content is not necessary for success online in Google.

He said “You don’t need blogging, you don’t need to write content, it’s just not important because it’s not going to get you the traffic that’s going to get you the leads, that’s going to get you the enquiries, that’s going to get you the sales, that’s going to get you the business, that’s going to take your business your revenue to the next level.” You don’t need it apparently, you just need whatever it is that he thinks he’s going to do for SEO, and I’m guessing it’s what he’s telling everybody he’s good at, and that’s “here’s a really, really specific phrase that no f***er is searching for that he can get you to number one in Google on”.

And honestly, it goes right back to the early 2000s, where you’d get these spam emails from people and they would promise to get you on the first page of Google. They would say “guaranteed results will get you on the first page of Google”, and there were two ways they were doing that.

One was that they were using paid links, and people at the time didn’t know the difference. Two was that they were getting you on the front page of Google for extremely specific phrases that nobody was searching for, and there’s no point being on the front page of Google for a phrase that nobody is searching for, because why are you there anyway? Nobody’s legitimately searching for it, and you know you’re not gonna get any traffic or any business from it.

If you have to go around telling people that you rank for something, then that is the definition of a vanity keyword – it’s a “look, I rank for this!” Yeah, big wow.

So, how much traffic did you get for that? Nothing, other than the people you’re telling to go and search for it.

I’m really gonna have to go and have a lie down after this, because I get myself into this sort of stress state when I think of people who do this. It infuriates me that they exist, that they earn a living. They steal a living doing this, and they actually convince clients, business owners like yourself, that you can pay them to do what they’re doing and it’s gonna get you some sort of result, when it really isn’t.

So, if somebody comes to you and says “hey look, I rank on the first page of Google for this particular keyword” – and they tell you a really long keyword and nobody’s searching for it, and oh look, they do rank on the first page – please just run the hell away from them.

Run far away, because it’s a complete waste of your time and your money engaging with somebody like that. You’re not going to get anything from it other than a nice fancy report to say “hey look, I did what I said I was going to do, big wow!”

So, I’m going to leave it there before my blood pressure goes to the roof and I just start into a tirade of swear words, because it’s going to happen. I can feel it happen, I can feel it bubbling up, so I’m going to stop there and leave you now.

Thank you very much for making it to the end of this rant, I very much appreciate it, and make sure you subscribe to the Engaging Markeeter podcast on iTunes.

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