When SEO is like “Chocolate Flavoured” Coating
Have you ever eaten anything with chocolate flavoured coating?
Hint, this is most likely something at the lower-end of the food/price spectrum – the particular example I’m thinking of is based on a “basics” Choc Ice.
“Chocolate Flavoured” was an idea which bothered me quite a lot when I first saw it, being a bit of a fan of semantics, the addition of the word “flavoured” highlighted that something wasn’t quite right. So I did of research (a quick search on Google) and found a wikipedia page which explained the point nicely.
“Compound chocolate is a less-expensive chocolate product replacement… [is] often used in lower-grade candy bars, compound chocolate is designed to simulate enrobed chocolate on a product. It costs less than chocolate…”
So it’s a cheap imitation.
It was some time ago that I last ate one – probably since my days as a student – and I can’t really work out why it dropped into my mind again, but I think it draws quite an important analogy with some other pertinent questions that I and the rest of the SEO industry have been asking recently.
Is it real chocolate or a cheap imitation of it?
Aside from the everlasting existential debate around the digital marketing community and the status of SEO itself (after all isn’t SEO “dead” enough by now?), there have been some really critical discussions on what exactly it is and more important what it isn’t any more. Sadly there are those who still treat/believe SEO is the same as it once was, and this is causing a problem.
SEO has been long thought of by some as some kind of a cure-all and more recently has had a very public shift into a set of false promises since Google have been taking a firm hand against old-school SEO practice. It looks and sounds like it might work, it even might be some kind of magical wizardry, yet more often than not it cannot square up to the claim that are made about it. This isn’t just a case of something being mis-sold, this isn’t anything new in any industry – moreover it’s something a bit more fundamental than that.
Don’t get me wrong, I am an SEO Consultant and I am aware of the difficulties that the industry has faced over the last few years, however, there are parts that work – and work very well – if applied properly. The key point here is that it’s different to it once was, the only way to buy yourself a position at the top of Google now is via their own Adwords programme – if you try and do it any other way you’ll find yourself with some serious problems!
The chocolate flavoured coating on the choc ice has only one intention, to look and taste as much like chocolate as possible but no more than necessary. The critical point here is that it’s not done because it looks or tastes better than real chocolate, it is because it’s cheaper. Very often you get more of these choc ices per box for less money, that means you’re getting more chocolate coating, so that’s got to be better right? Wrong!
Maybe the chocolate analogy doesn’t work or it feels stressed, maybe some parts of SEO within digital marketing are more the horsemeat in a lasagne? Either way, buying the wrong thing has a chance of leaving a sour taste in your mouth and even if you don’t notice it or are turning a blind eye – you’re still missing out.
Paying More For the Real Thing
There is of course a desperate hope that SEO might be what it once was; it was cheap, people saw results, they thought it was real chocolate and no one was any the wiser. Now, these days it’s harder to pretend it’s chocolate, no matter what people say – whether or not this is denial or a leap of faith, who knows? The problem is, this compounds the problems more so. After all some people still continue to eat chocolate flavour coating and are adamant that it tastes just as good.
But real chocolate costs more, takes more time and care and importantly requires a lot better ingredients in order to succeed. You pay for quality, you get quality – it’s generally accepted and the vast majority of the time, it’s true. This doesn’t stop the whole industry becoming damaged when it doesn’t work.
Basics Choc Ice Anyone?