When getting on the first page of Google is like a woman walking in New York

At the time of writing the viral YouTube video “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” has been viewed over 32 million times. If you haven’t seen it, it is basically just a young woman walking around the streets of New York being hassled by an assortment of ‘men’ saying stupid things like “hi!”, “smile” and “damn!”. At one point, one even walks alongside her for about 5 minutes saying nothing.

Yes, it is annoying, often intimidating and, if you are the sort of bloke who does that sort of thing –  just plain wrong!

There has predictably been much feminine outrage about the video and the issue in general, but I sort of take a man’s view of this. What I would like to say to the various characters in the video harassing the woman is: when has this ever worked for you? When was the last time you randomly said “Hi” to a woman in the street and she stopped to check you out and one thing led to another and the rest is history?

I would expect a broadly negative response as would anyone in their right mind. In fact if it did work, how do you think things would pan out over time – for the woman? I think we all know the answer to that would be ‘not that good’.

Get on the first page of GoogleThat is enough of the real world, now let’s go online and look at how some Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Digital Marketing(DM) companies are choosing to market themselves online. For many it seems the answer is to shout at potential clients by sending marketing messages through their website contact forms, a device that is intended for customer enquiries only.

Really? Does this work? Has it ever worked? And if it does work, how do think things will pan out over time?

The reality of such an approach is that it reflects pretty negatively on the people doing it. Just like men hopelessly shouting at women on the street, shouting at potential clients through their contact forms does not really say a great deal good about the rest of their digital marketing techniques. If this is how they get their own business how could anyone else trust them to look after their marketing.

Just like any sensible woman would not run off with a randomer who shouts at her in the street, no sensible business would surely run off with a business that sent an unsolicited ‘enquiry’ selling their services.

OK then why do they do it? Well (and here I have to backtrack a little) the simple answer is volume and the fact that if spam didn’t work, no one would be doing it. It works for the seller that is – not always for the buyer. Just like stopping to have a chat with the low life who shouts at her on the street would not work out well for the woman, responding to the spam usually does not work well for the buyer.

The reason for this is the flash in the pan nature of the services being sold. Instant first page on Google, hundreds of Twitter followers, of Facebook ‘friends’ are typical claims and while they may prove to be immediately true, the value (if there is any) will quickly fade, leaving a sour taste in the buyer’s mouth.

The reality is that high quality positioning on Google for important key terms can take a great deal of time – especially if the key term is highly competitive. Equally, good quality friends (potential customers I mean) will take time to acquire on Facebook as they take time in real life. Yes, there are exceptions, but really they are specials. For the majority there is no magic bullet, only thoughtful work applied over time.

The Google Penguin algorithm update applied in October proved this with all of our longer term clients getting a payback from the longevity of their presence and the quality and reach of their content.  Thoughtful work applied over time brings not just ranking and traffic benefits it creates resilience against the unpredictable changes to search mechanisms.

Just like building a business, building a digital presence takes time, thought and, I am afraid, hard work because if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

If you would like to know more about building a successful and resilient digital presence for your business, which may well lead to the first page of Google, why not get in touch: we won’t shout at you, but we might let you do all the talking while we work out the best way forward.