I was talking with my business partner, Diane Kinney, today about all the people in this industry that have told me that business has come to a screeching halt recently and others telling me they are merging businesses with friends. Diane pointed out that with all the “how to” blog posts many people think that they can follow the directions/tips on the blog posts and do their own SEO / Social Media / WordPress / Web design work themselves.
I think this is a very interesting perspective. We all write blog posts for rankings, traffic, industry respect and often, hopefully, new business. It is what this industry does, but we need to think about what impact our posts have on small-medium sized businesses. Are we giving them information that will help them make informed decisions or just enough information for them to hurt themselves?
There are many businesses hiring in-house employees to do their SEO and Social Media because they feel they can take the info they find on the Web and give it to their employee and the job will get done. They believe they can educate an employee and save money in the long run. Therefore, many smaller SEO/Social Media/Web design companies, and consultants, are getting less work. This is not good.
I use to write about what businesses needed to know and understand, but didn’t give away what I did because the process was too complex to even start to explain in a blog post. Those type of blog posts were not respected in our industry at the time; people wanted the point-by-point “how to” information. Those that gave it all away were respected and considered knowledgeable and many bloggers wanted that respect…everyone started giving away the bank.
I know it is very possible to educate without making readers feel they can do what we do. My goal has always been to write enough that the reader understands I know my stuff, but not give them enough information to attempt it on their own. This was for their safety more than my own.
This is Our Fault
What readers (outside of our industry) and many businesses do not understand is that although blogs are giving good tips those tips might only equal 2.3% of the information needed to succeed in any marketing effort; there is still 97+% of information we haven’t provided that must be understood to make things work effectively. They also don’t understand that often are posts are aimed at others in our industry that have extensive knowledge on the subject already and can add these tips to their arsenal.
It is not the reader’s fault that they think they can take the information and do it themselves. It is our fault for not pointing out that there is a heck of a lot more that people need to know to do well.
What I Feel Needs to Change
We all need to make it clear that we know what we are doing, we are experts in this field and if you want to attempt to do all of your online marketing yourself to remember that you get what you pay for. We need to change the angle of our posts a bit before we put many of our friends out of business.
I think many of us need to start explaining what businesses need to understand instead of giving what might be perceived as point-by-point instructions. Or, point out that the post is aimed at those that have the knowledge to successfully identify the tips that will work and which won’t. Some readers believe if they follow all the tips and instructions they will have success and they don’t need to hire anyone to help them.
There is a false belief that what we do is easy and can be quickly learned by reading what the experts write.
I know that with personalized search many felt that they had done their SEO just as well as any SEO company could. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen utter astonishment when I showed business owners that they were, in fact, not #1 for whatever amount of phrases.
I have seen businesses small to large believing they are succeeding in social media because they have 20,000 followers, yet they follow more people than follow them. I have seen people start “social media” companies because they have a Facebook account with 3,000+ friends or likes. Who says a follower count equals success?
Both Diane and I consistently (weekly) have people asking for help with WordPress, plugins and Web design because they thought they could do it themselves. Creating a good WordPress site is not easy and cannot be learned after reading the Web for an hour. They might think their site is good, but they don’t have the knowledge to truly evaluate anything.
People offer top 10 plugin posts all the time, but no one explains that there are so many plugin compatibility issues that cause problems all the time. Without experience you don’t know what your options are, where problems begin, what problems to avoid, which themes work with which plugins and what hell you are creating for yourself.
If you offer tips you need to offer true facts as well.
We MUST Stress Quality & Knowledgeable Services
Many of us have read and studied our industry for years. We have lived it, tested, failed and succeeded. We know so much information. We need to find a way to point this out in our writings because readers need to understand that people can’t do what we do after reading 3 or 4 articles on a subject.
We need to establish ourselves as experts and we need to make sure we do not drive this industry to near extinction by giving away the knowledge we have all worked so hard to attain.
There has to be a differentiation between the experienced and those just learning. We need to build each other up as well so people can trust those that do have the experience. We need to support each other in this effort.
Let me also say that I am all for educational articles/posts that can help people learn this industry, but we have to make it clear who these articles are aimed at and basing a company’s future on substandard work is not recommended. Substandard work typically comes from ignorance and we don’t want to contribute to that ignorance.