It’s 2016: Are We Doing Real Company Sh*t Yet?
Hopefully by now, every SEO and digital marketing professional has seen Wil Reynolds’ MozCon 2012 presentation on ‘Real Company Shit (RCS)’ (If not, I’ve included it below. Stop reading and watch it. All of it.). Roughly 4 years later, I still find myself wondering if our industry has matured enough to finally accept the RCS principles that Wil talks about. Based on my own experience, I’d say we’re about half way there.
When I got into digital marketing in 2007, SEO as an established practice was still relatively young. As a result, it was pretty much open season in terms of things you could do to get a site to rank well. We built private blog networks. We stuffed keywords in alt tags. We wrote white text on white backgrounds. We bought links from places like Digital Point. We paid pennies on the dollar for poorly written content and thousands of fake social followers — all in the name of improving our search engine rankings as quickly as possible. While it worked pretty well back then (and sometimes still works today), all of this stuff (according to Wil) is ‘fake company shit (FCS).’
So where are we today? On one hand, I do think we’re making strides towards RCS as the way to do digital marketing. Thanks to a multitude of algorithm updates rolled out by Google over the last few years, there’s been a shift towards creating quality content that’s actually written for people — not search search engines. In fact, content creation (and content marketing) has become essential to an effective digital marketing strategy. More encouraging than that, the metrics we’re using to determine success are skewing heavily towards lead quality, sales, conversion rates, and website traffic (i.e. RCS), rather than PageRank and link juice (i.e. FCS).
Companies like Dove, Redbull, and Patagonia are using RCS to build their brands online, and it’s earning them a ton of traffic, links, social followers, and ultimately, more business. They’re engaging their customer base by producing top-notch content that people naturally want to link to and share. You think the marketing teams for these brands are mulling over PageRank and backlink profiles? Nah, don’t think so.
On the other hand, however, we still have this type of crap happening:
This is from the comments section of a blog post written earlier this year that talked about scalable link building tactics. Really guys!? PBNs? Buying links from some dude in the Philippines? The biggest issue is that the post was written by a pretty well-known SEO, and featured on his company’s blog — a company that sells SEO tools!
How can we fix this? How can we convince our clients and our bosses that investing in RCS is the way to go, especially when there are still “experts” out there giving shitty advice and still getting results (that last part’s on you, Google)? I think it comes down to two things:
1) Doing a Better Job of Educating Decision Makers
This part can be really difficult. Mr. Client or Ms. CEO see their competitors doing spammy stuff and getting rankings, links, etc., yet you’re over here telling them they have to do it the hard way. Trust me, I feel your pain. But the more we can educate folks about the value of doing RCS — and more importantly — why digital marketers should be leading those initiatives, the better off our industry as a whole is going to be.
2) Doing a Better Job of Communicating the Value of Our Work
Digital marketers and SEOs, whatever you do, please — FOR THE LOVE OF GOD — stop telling decisions makers about search volume and PageRank and Quality Scores and Klout Scores and all that other bullshit they don’t care about. Instead, try talking to them about revenue, brand awareness, and publicity. I mean, these are the things we’re supposed to be affecting through all of our hard work, right?
I’ll leave you with this short video of Wil giving us a nice overview of what RCS means in the context of his own company, SEER Interactive.