Criticism and innovation are nothing new to our small, opinionated and fiery industry. If you’re not truly passionate about search, you’re not going to make it in this space. At least not long.
I was reminded of how passionate I can become when I was speaking Monday night. I said a few things that in may have rubbed people the wrong way. While my first inclination was to apologize – I opted not to.
That’s because ethical practices are becoming more important to me. There’s no excuse for search marketers to continually trick, game or mislead resources in the industry for the sake of being successful.
You either know your shit, or you don’t.
I will admit that I don’t know much. I wield findings, opinions and assumptions based on my 9 years in the space when challenged and often hope to be countered. I love that conversation because it’s engaging, fruitful and in many cases, eye opening.
We’re all learning. We’re all trying to be innovative. It’s that drive to become better that creates the competitiveness and passion that we all find inside of us. I just tend to be really, really competitive.
Sadly though, criticism often gets tossed aside in fear of it really being constructive. That’s what happened Monday night. We as early adopters of this marketing vertical need to get past that. We all deserve to be in the mindset where we can share thoughts and opinions constructively.
In the situation I mentioned above, an attendee of the event said that he and colleagues were frequently adding multiple, positive reviews to their clients’ businesses in Google Local, Yelp and other resources.
Seriously… What the fuck are you thinking? Local search and the integration of socially contributed information is the foundation for enhanced listings. Maps, images, videos and alternative media are all being served up because it improves the user experience of those performing a search query.
But for your clients, it matters more that they benefit from bogus reviews in an effort to beat out competing sites – even if their products and services are inferior. Please.
Rather than have a conversation in the moment though, this person opted for a defensive track. It’s unfortunate because with the size of the group, we really could’ve had a great time with the topic. I’m not saying that review driven sites can’t be used as part of a marketing plan… Just learn how to do things ethically.
Motivate your client to encourage honest reviews. Help them to become more engaged in online conversations. Don’t take it upon yourself to pollute the legitimate reviews in a vertical or niche because it’s convenient and you can profit from it. It’s just pathetic. You should know better. And it reminds me yet again as to why this industry needs some sort of standards.
The key to this whole thing is innovation. No one in the space will innovate on their own. It takes time, effort and being open minded to truly break through to the next big thing. But being innovative doesn’t mean you have to game the system with risky or shady practices.
I mean… If you have to cheat the game to compete… Maybe it’s time to play a different game.