John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?

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September 30th, 2013 by john andrews

PR is where the Money Is

A shout out to all of you disenfranchised ex-SEO people out there: Public Relations is where the Money Is!

PR is a solid career with very little formal credentialing required. Even better, the consumers of PR services have less knowledge about PR than SEO consumers had about SEO! PR is a GOLDMINE opportunity for online marketers, I tell ya.

A few years back, barely any of the young PR people trying to make a name for themselves in that established industry recognized the amazing “blue water” opportunity that was SEO. The few who did recognize it, did what any good self-promoter would have done: they branded themselves SEOs and ran with it all over the PR and SEO marketplaces.

A few kind gestures, some glad-handing of key SEO industry egos, and WHAM… speaking opportunities appeared on panels at Pubcon, SES, SMS, etc. Not only was the PR version of the Internet Marketing story unique content for the eager newbies buying conference tickets, the earned authority (as an SEO) that came from being a “sought-after speaker” was immensely valuable…back in PR world.

Before SEOs realized the profits that were sitting in Big Brand accounts eager for attention, these PR “mavericks” were all over it. And with Big Brand logos attached to client lists, the SEO contracts followed.

Can’t actually do much “real SEO”? No problem… just farm out the audit, link-building, and (only if necessary) on-page SEO work, and push the client towards the PR side of SEO… the Social Media, the Guest Blogging, the “outreach” and the “co-citations”. Down-talk true SEO if necessary… those old techniques of referring to pimply-faced geeks and the like still work wonders in OldBigBrand world. And buy the client a drink… alcohol still works wonders. The Advertising industry is not dead yet!
As the Market for Lemons moved effective SEO out of the reach of the increasingly burned and hesitant marketplace, things like Social media seemed like answers to the imaginary problem of “no rankings”. And with Google obfuscating as much as it could as fast as it could, the lack of performance was nothing a little decent PR deceit couldn’t cover up. Selling is more than half the battle, and selling requires access. Access can be gained through SEO badges… and the SEO world hands them out like candy. Opportunity!

Well, sadly, that opportunity has dried up. If you can’t deliver customers, sales, or measurable outcomes, in addition to visible rankings (which may not even mater), you’re no longer welcome at the client teet.  But guess who is still taking the cash? Yup. THE PR PEOPLE!

Hah ha wow, those clever PR people have re-branded right back to “communications” again, as the specifics of SEO and technical work lost luster. Amazing, those guys. Or is it?

PR is where the money is. Take my advice:

* Just ONE INTRODUCTORY COURSE in Public Relations is enough. You’ll get it. You’ll see the parallels, and immediately see how you can spin your Internet Marketing experience (no mater how dim, basically) into convincing fodder for the BigBrand boardroom.

* start publishing. If there’s one thing we all learned from the Rise and Fall of SEO, it’s that there is NEVER enough authoritative-sounding content published to the Internet.When I played Lacrosse my coach told us “when you’re not working out, the other guy is getting bigger than you” and he was right. Lazy feeds the beast that is your competition. Memorize the idea of “Least Publishable Unit” and apply it in the PR world. Grab on to those industry buzzwords and redefine them closer to what YOU do, to gain the power. It’s not that hard.

* Start Glad-Handing the PR people. Aim for the 45 and older crowd.. they’re the more desperate ones. The Old Guys of that industry are STILL holding on at 60+, boldly ignoring what actually works today because they think they have the client accounts locked up. The young people have basically abandoned the old school approach. The middle-agers are not staring at a fertile next 20 years of work, and they know it. They NEED young blood to do the work (whatever that is). Pitch them… and be sure to carry a non-threatening demeanor.

* Play Dumb about PR and say “Wow I Didn’t Know That”. These middle-aged PR people who have been working both sides of the PR industry (the PR side, and the Internet side) have super big egos, but work really hard to suppress their true personalities in public (part of the PR training). You’ll do best if you treat them like Mensa Warriors. In fact, play super-dumb about anything THEY SAY is PR, and you’ll probably have the best luck. Oh, and learn to smile and shake hands as if it mattered, because in that world, it does.

* Re-brand as a PR Agency or Communications Agency. Seriously… it works! I’ve already seen several “How can we Grow our Business” mind-maps in 2013 that considered “Better SEO” and expensive, high-risk strategy, and “hire a PR pro” as low-hanging fruit. You need to become a “Pro” now. See the above for how to shift your “fake it till you make it” seo skills right into PR world with the least amount of friction.

* Start a new Conference with a Great PR Name. Some tried this years ago, but it was too early. Audience Building, Growth Blasting, or whatever, wasn’t attractive while Google’s referrer tags screamed that Google’s share of Internet was growing in an unstoppable way. But now Google knows that everyone knows Google is unstoppable, so that keyword evidence is being covered up. With less obvious information about what actually works to drive business, what will Big Brand lazy clients do? As my Grandpa used to say, given a vacuum…. MAKE A NOISE! It’s YOUR TIME now. YOU EARNED IT. All you have to do, is GO GET IT!

Effective some time very soon, we will be re-branding everything we do over here as “PR”, for the same reasons I highlight above. I know the general public (and 99% of the PR world) doesn’t read this blog, so this post doesn’t give away the farm. Besides, it’s a true Blue Water opportunity… lots of room for all of us. If I could start today, I would, but my pesky partners are still insisting on good SEO architecture for our re-branded website. I can’t ditch them until 2015 under my current contract, or BELIEVE YOU ME I WOULD. I’d be all over the PR thing like a link builder on SEO, or like a Content Marketer on SEO, or an InBound Marketer on SEO, or… well, you get the idea.

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June 28th, 2012 by john andrews

Painful Example of Google’s Capricious Do Not Care Attitude

This is amazing to me, not because it is true but because it is co clearly demonstrated with recorded phone calls. Although I fully expect Google to issue excuses, blame an incompetent vendor, and allude to “beta”, “experiment”, or “brief period of impact..effecting 0.0001% of businesses” maybe this will be the living example the world needs to recognize Google’s intent. After all, through its seo management campaigns, Google taught us all that intent, not actual practice, should often be the cause of scorn and punishment.

Mike Blumenthal brought us the story of a US business that was de-listed by Google local, ostensibly because it did not pass the trust tests for being a truly local business. The reality is quite shocking (but quite clear in the audio recordings of the phone calls) – Google will trust cheap, incompetent, unverified offshore call center representatives over local small businesses.

In this case, it seems a poorly-trained, culturally insensitive and communications-challenged call center in India was given the power to de-list local businesses if they determined — without any apparent oversight — that the business did not have a local physical presence at the address on record.

I repeat – Google trusts it’s obviously low cost outsourced vendor more than it trusts established, US-based local businesses.
I fully expect the usual “it wasn’t our fault”, “it’s a new program only in beta”, and “blame the vendor” excuses from uber-arrogant Google. But the fact remains, we can clearly see Google’s intent with this activity. Google will trust an entity that has a commercial relationship with Google (even if a low-bid one, from overseas) before it trusts those whom it already arrogantly believes is “out to get them”.

Google’s paranoia and arrogance are hurting the US economy. How can this be ignored?

My advice to Google: reach out to that other money-hungry arrogant big entity known as the Chamber of Commerce, and make a deal while you can. They have an edge with small businesses, have demonstrated that they, too will bend all sorts of ways if it means cash for their pockets. You will need that public impression of an alliance with small businesses sooner than you suspect.

My advice to small businesses: start calling your Chamber of Commerce and COMPLAIN LOUDLY about Google. Today. Demand action. You have few other options, and the opportunity for you to have any impact in this conversation is going away in 5…4…3….2….

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March 12th, 2012 by john andrews

Why “dot everything” is a Good Idea (and ahead of its time)

I’m getting tired of so-called experts trashing ICANN’s decision to open up the Internet naming system on the right side of the dot, to enable names with dot anything. It was a smart thing to do, although it may have been executed poorly. It for sure has been interpreted poorly by the same people it was meant to inspire.

The Internet name system has not evolved much, despite tremendous growth of our Internet use and related Internet technologies. We still type in dot com (or whatever) and we still publsih html pages on URLs. The system of search and storage and registration of published information still relies on static URLs to represent information, and more than ever we struggle with naming. There are fewer names available yet we still must draw from our one, virtually static lexicon. Clearly the naming system needs to evolve. But how? Any ideas?

Unfortunately not. The very naming pros and creative experts that developed the web have failed miserably to recognize this opportunity for progress.  The same people whose “out of the box” thinking created what we have today, have failed to think outside of the box that is the domain name system.

Dot anything  was (is?) your chance to change the way things are done on the Internet.

Sadly, everyone just thinks it’s another way to add more tlds to be used the same old way. Can you fault the ICANN governing body for at least acknowledging they don’t have any great ideas, and enablign us to take charge and implement some of our crazy ideas?  Apparently people can and do fault ICANN for that. And it’s sad to watch.

The same idea-less domain speculators that failed to monetize valuable domain names outside of a resale market criticize the effort.  The same so-called “naming consultants” who charge consulting fees to help pick Internet names criticize the effort. The same “big brands” that fail to innovate and instead use protective tariffs and laws to guard their markets, criticize the efforts.I’m even seeing these same “losers” criticize the cost as high — starting at $185k. Sigh. Since when was $185,000 a high cost for innovation at the root domain level, in any business or industry?

So if there are so many loud and often ignorant critics, where are the disruptors who can prove me right? I suspect their quietly working hard on their ideas.

Dot anything is an opportunity to do things differently. To try something new. If you can’t imagine how that might work, get out of the way and let those who can, try.

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John Andrews is a mobile web professional and competitive search engine optimzer (SEO). He's been quietly earning top rank for websites since 1997. About John

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Recent Posts: ★ SEO Industry Growth, Widespread Failure, and SEO Industry Challenge ★ Do you want to WIN, or just “Be the Winner”? ★ 503: GONE ★ Cloud Storage ★ Identity Poetry for Marketers ★ PR is where the Money Is ★ Google is an Addict ★ When there are no Jobs ★ Google Stifles Innovation, starts Strangling Itself ★ Flying the SEO Helicopter ★ Penguin 2.0 Forewarning Propaganda? ★ Dedicated Class “C” IP addresses for SEO ★ New Domain Extensions (gTLDs) Could Change Everything ★ Kapost Review ★ Aaron Von Frankenstein ★ 2013 is The Year of the Proxy ★ Preparing for the Google Apocalypse ★ Rank #1 in Google for Your Name (for a fee) ★ Pseudo-Random Thoughts on Search ★ Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or a Blog ★ The BlueGlass Conference Opportunity ★ Google Execs Take a Break from Marissa Mayer, Lend Her to Yahoo! ★ Google SEO Guidelines ★ Reasons your Post-Penguin Link Building Sucks ★ Painful Example of Google’s Capricious Do Not Care Attitude 

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