One constant in the digital ecosystem is constant change. Digital strategists must commit to a constant state of learning to stay effective amidst fluidity. Self-study goes without say but seminars, conferences and workshops capture my attention most because it’s an opportunity to learn and interact directly with colleagues and industry thought leaders.
Through the years I’ve attended some pretty great events but also attended far too many that fell well short of “learning” expectations. Earlier this year Social Media: Don’t Believe Everything You Hear followed a disappointing event and a recent “Digital Seminar” that I found LOADED with misinformation is the inspiration for today’s post.
One hour event’s typically break down to 45 minutes presentation with 15 minutes Q&A so terming a 1 hour event as “Seminar” was a flag – 45 minutes a seminar does not make but my goodness they packed an unbelievable amount of DIGITAL MISINFORMATION into that window. My head was spinning as I listened to an under qualified team relay incorrect information on several topics to an audience that didn’t know any better than to take everything they heard as truth.
The falsehoods given are too many for one blog post alone so I’ll focus on the top 3 specific to SEO.
Investing in paid search ads (PPC) will increase your organic search ranking (SERP)
It will NOT!
You may appear above or adjacent organic search results for the purchased keywords, possibly positioning your business on a page where it may otherwise not appear, but that check you’re writing won’t also pay to place your business any higher on any page organically.
Big surprise – this event organizer is a national media publisher who sells paid online advertising in many formats including PPC.
PPC (pay per click) is Search Engine Marketing (SEM) NOT Search Engine Optimization (SEO). There’s a difference but the presenters failed to make that distinction. Shocking that nowhere in the 66 slide presentation can the letters SEM be found? One can only assume the intent is to portray SEO and SEM as one in the same.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) increases visibility to search engines because you paid for that visibility not because you earned it organically (SEO). There’s a difference.
By the way – what PPC publishers and resellers don’t tell you is:
And, why not? If you have to pay to be seen because you didn’t earn a spot on your own merit it’s understandable that 70-80% of searchers consider your listing less trustworthy and less credible than unpaid results.
The upside of PPC is you’ll only pay for clicks not impressions (at least I hope that’s what you’re doing).
The downside – whether PPC campaign management is handled by internal staff or outsourced to an agency, you’re still paying someone to manage it. You’re paying someone to manage something that 70-80% of searchers ignore which obviously has ROI implications.
If your business has paid online advertising investments be sure to hold digital marketers accountable with the related metrics:
(CPA) Cost-Per-Acquisition <a.k.a. conversion>
Having a Google+ business page will boost organic search rank
It will NOT!
Google has no loyalty to you – whether your business pays them for advertising or supports any Google product or platform – they don’t care about you. Their loyalty is to the searcher and to delivering the most relevant, trustworthy content of value relative to the search language used – and that’s how it should be. EVERY searcher expects unbiased search results – you and me included.
Investing in press releases will magically boost your ranking
It will NOT!
Again, shocking that a national media publisher who has a vested interest in press release viability would instruct their team to assert press releases are SEO.
Now at this point in the presentation I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. We’re approaching the 1 hour mark with no Q&A on the horizon and another 20 of 66 slides yet to cover. (Did I mention a printed copy was provided for note taking?) People to my right and left were taking notes, presumably believing what they’re being told so — no surprise to those of you who know me — I couldn’t stop myself from interrupting the presentation and challenge the presenter to identify which algorithm has press release mechanisms that’ll boost ranking.
Well even though he claimed to be an “Expert” when introducing himself, he didn’t know enough about SEO algorithms to answer “Google Penguin” but he did manage to say “back links”. And that’s true. Quality, trustworthy – EARNED – back links are a variable in Google’s SERP reward. Every SEO strategy should include a link strategy. But not link building or link buying – the strategy has to be link earning. Investing in a PRWeb or PRNewswire for press release distribution isn’t the old-fashioned black hat link building, but it’s arguably bought links so it’s debatable whether those are a good thing, and just how good. (Learn More at Google Penguin Explained – Yoast vlog)
I’m not saying don’t issue press releases for your business and that there’s no value. They have value. I am saying – set your expectations low for how much press releases actually affect your SERP. My issue with the presenter was in misleading the audience to believe a flutter of press releases will Voila boost your rank. Don’t count on it.
Identifying digital misinformation is challenging, especially when those perpetuating the misinformation actually believe they know what they’re talking about. Honestly the majority of misinformation I’ve encountered has been delivered by presenters or organizations that really consider themselves “experts”. There are very few digital “experts” because the learning curve is in a constant state of change. The more the experience the more likely the expertise will follow. And I’m talking about real-world experience in the real workplace. Not titles or degrees – actual practice. The generation you were born into doesn’t qualify you but the experience and practice does. Look at the presenter’s background, credentials, and number of years in the industry before registering for your next digital learning session.
And, if e-addresses aren’t provided in the form of Twitter handle or at the very least an email for each presenter – don’t waste time signing up. Any true digital practitioner will always provide e-communique in many forms – website, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, G+, etc., etc. And they’ll offer those Before the event – During (on every slide) and After the event.
Taking a second look at those 66 slides there’s not one digital means of communicating with any of the presenters. Their names and titles are on page 3 but not one email address, not even a phone number. The company name appears on 4 of the 66 slides (genius). The last mention on #66 – Connect With Us Online – provides the company website, Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn social channels. But the invitation to connect is only with the company – no invite to connect with a person. That’s quite telling.
Also telling – true digital marketers have a follow-up email scheduled to send within minutes of the event ending. I never did get a Thank You For Attending email not to mention the slide presentation url. Maybe it’s because I have that handy, dandy printed version but wait a minute – that’s not as sharable as an e-version. Aren’t all digital marketers about digital sharing? Wasn’t this a “Seminar” on digital marketing?
I didn’t hold my breath for a “thanks for attending” message and definitely not for free downloadable resources after the fact, but did expect something post event that’d at least provide contact information for someone, anyone? What if I actually wanted to contract the digital marketing services they were trying to sell?
Would you trust this company to manage your digital marketing efforts when they do such a poor job managing their own? Aaaaahhh – there it is! Quite possibly the best means for identifying digital proficiency – or lack thereof….
Related d.Mark Resources