Posts By Patrick

#16 – What The Fuck Is Inbound Marketing?

You sit down in the audience for an evening of stand up comedy. You are excited, you have a pint in hand, bag of crisps sneaked in your jacket pocket, and it’s the weekend. The comedian comes on stage to rapturous applause… and then starts to pick on the crowd. You’ve got balls, you tell yourself, you can handle being picked on. You think, just maybe, you’ve got a witty riposte up your sleeve that will humiliate the comedian and elevate you to the star of the show. You’ll get him, you think.

dara o'briain seo meme

He swoops through the front row and turns on you. Without warning he jumps straight into “What do you do for a living?” Hang on, where was “what is your name?”, you think, as you stutter to answer his question, “I am an SEO”. The audience go silent. “What did he say?” you hear someone ask. You start to go red. You should have lied, that’s what you’re thinking. Should have gone with doctor or accountant, something that everybody knows already.

The comedian, pleased you have fallen into his trap, looks up to the audience with a confused look, then back down at you. He seems to have increased in size three-fold, as he looms over you like a demon headmaster. “A what now?”

You pause. How else to describe it? “Erm”, you begin, “I work with websites, helping them rank in Google.” Uh-oh, now you’ve blown it. Everyone has heard of those people. SEOs: Cowboys. Charlatans. Rip-off merchants. Somehow, you can’t stop yourself from making it worse, “Some people call it inbound marketing”.

As £££ signs flash in the comedian’s eyes, he pauses for effect, then asks you directly, “What the fuck is inbound marketing?”

dara o'briain inbound marketing meme

You fidget uncontrollably, looking first left and then right, trying to find some way out of this hell hole. You are penned in, trapped from all sides by the staring masses, just waiting to laugh in your face. With your back against the wall, you decide to stand up against this bully and defend your mighty industry. “Well”, you begin, “it’s the opposite of outbound marketing – y’know, phone calls, direct mail, spam, all the interruptive forms that everyone hates.”

The comedian seems intrigued, as you sigh inwardly and thank fuck you’ve been reading the Hubspot blog lately. He wants more though. “So what is it exactly that you do?”

“I…erm…figure out what stuff people are looking for, then help them find what I… want them to find.”

“And then what happens?”

“Well, they end up on my client’s website and we try to convert them – so they buy a product, or download an ebook, or fill out a quote form.”

The comedian steps away, seemingly content with his torture. That wasn’t so bad. No one really laughed. Pretty much got away with it. You take a sip of lager – ahhhh. You carefully place your pint back on the floor, and as you look back up, the comedian is right there waiting for you. Waiting, staring, with an evil glint in his eye. He knows something you don’t.

In a panic, you feel your cheeks go red as you start to question yourself – ‘I am right, aren’t I? Inbound marketing is good, right? It’s what people WANT!’

He senses your disarray. “Ok, so they fill a form in or do a download or whatever, but then what has that actually achieved?”

HA! He doesn’t even get it. What an idiot! “Well once you have collected their details like their phone number or email address, you can ring them or email them, to try and sell them something.”

“Oh, those INTERRUPTIVE forms that everybody hates. Well isn’t that noble.”


dara o'briain inbound marketing meme

#15 – Great Content Can’t DESERVE To Rank

David Brent Meme

“Produce great content”

That’s what we need to do, right? Content Marketing is the new black, and we need to be bloody good at it if we want our sites to rank.

Sean recently proposed that some SEO folk are waiting with baited breath and crossed fingers that Google’s next update will reward quality content that deserves to rank. I sincerely hope that people don’t actually believe such garbage, and would like to dig into why it could never actually happen.

For the purpose of this discussion we’ll consider only the content medium of copy, since that is the most basic form of content, and most easily digestible by our spidery friends.

How can Google go about detecting quality content?

It could run through various checks and comparisons:

  • Is this copy identical to another page?
  • Are there chunks of copy that are largely similar to other places online?
  • How is the text positioned on the page?
  • Does this copy occupy a central theme or does it contain semantic oddities?
  • Is this copy sound in terms of grammar, spelling and syntax?

Hmmm, so Google knows how to tell if content is duplicate, poorly structured or incoherent. Of course, we know this – it’s exactly what Panda has been hammering sites for over the last couple of years. Google attempts to surface better quality sites simply by removing the lower quality ones.

But can Google look at two unique blog posts written on the same subject and determine which is of the higher quality? I sincerely doubt it.

A more pertinent question might be: ‘can humans do it?’

The literary world

The best selling books of all time, according to Wikipedia, contain amongst their top 10 writers such as Tolkien, Dickens and Lewis. A fair shout, many would argue. Yet nestling in at the number 9 spot is none other than The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown. Those familiar with Mr Brown’s work will know that his use of language is…clumsy, at best. His writing is painful to read, and he is not without criticism, evidenced by this collection of his ‘worst sentences‘.


Other works that have achieved massive commercial success yet are notoriously badly written include 50 Shades of Grey and the Harry Potter series. I must admit to enjoying the travails of Master Potter, although the prose can’t half make you wince at times.

50 shades of shit

50 Shades of Shit – a Tumblr ‘fan’ blog

The thing is, having discussed my distaste for such poorly written works with quite a few people over the years, some people simply don’t notice that the writing is bad. Others don’t give a shit. Well educated, highly intelligent people no less. I know this makes me sound pompous and arrogant, but hopefully is getting my point across – everybody has a different definition of quality.

dwight schrute gay meme

Google MUST rely on external factors

Content is made to communicate meanings, and communication is an exchange of information. Content is only effective if it is successful in communicating its meanings to its audience. But the audience is not a robot.

Since every person has fundamentally different experiences, opinions and ideologies, it follows that they should disagree on ‘what is good.’

The notion that content can, in itself, deserve to rank is flawed.

If people can’t agree on content quality, then Google certainly can’t make that call algorithmically. And we’ve only considered text! Imagine Google trying to grade images qualitatively, never mind animation, music or videos. This is art not science.

Google must rely on good old external factors, such as links, social shares and author associations. And at the end of the day, Google doesn’t give a shit that a Dan Brown book reads like a soap opera on steroids – if their users want it then Google will give it to them.

#10 – Most Memorable Posts of 2012

One of the most inspiring posts for me last year was a piece about content recall by AJ Kohn, where he argued that we should strive to produce content that is memorable, rather than simply ‘great’. This post led me to change the way I think about content so much so that I changed our in-house guidelines for content production (at my real job, I mean).

AJ Kohn Content Recall

Here at The Saloon we like to challenge convention, and we also like to challenge ourselves. Convention dictates that these annual round-up posts offer a wide range of carefully curated blog posts that have been heavily researched and lovingly presented. We challenged ourselves to discard these shackles and simply remember.

Without using Google, bookmarks or Twitter to inspire us, we each had to come up with three titles that had such an impact on us that the content recall was almost immediate. AJ’s post is a given, so Anthony, Sean and myself will each give you 3 more. What we are sharing, in this short but hopefully sweet collection, is our experience. As this is so subjective, it is likely that many of you may have different opinions about the ‘most memorable’ posts of the year. This is great, ney, inevitable. We implore you to share yours in the comments below, and garnish them with your thoughts on why you found them so memorable and how they influenced you.

Patrick’s Memorable Posts of 2012

1 – The Secret Diary of an Inbound Marketer by Sean Revell
My first one is an easy one, and so much more than a simple hat tip to my colleague Mr Revell. More than helping me discover this wonderfully gifted writer and friend, this post opened my eyes to a world of new opportunities online. It gave me a sense of freedom and made me question my actions. When I first read this post I’d been in internet marketing for around 8 months, and though I’d been blown away by the sharing nature of the community, I had also become swept up in this ‘inbound marketing bubble’. I had become a bit of a sheep, and this post really helped me step away from the flock and embrace my individuality. Thank you Sean.

2 – Are Your Titles Irresistibly Click Worthy & Viral?! by Dan Shure
What a wonderful title for a post. And what a truly outstanding collection of advice on title-writing. This is probably the blog post I have revisited most in my career – whenever I need some help with a title, i just fire this bad boy up. If you have read it and it didn’t add a shitload of value then you must not have eyes. Seriously, this post is Ogilvy-like in its brilliance and will be a valuable resource for years to come.

3 – Forum Participation Rubric for Ecommerce Link Building by Don Rhoades
Among a host of great posts about content marketing and link building for convertible traffic rather than rankings, this one really stood out for me. Don delves into the untapped value that niche forums can offer ecommerce sites – where that value relates to direct sales – and outlines a rubric to qualify prospects and determine actions. It is subtle, yet extremely powerful, and quite clearly demonstrates that Mr Rhoades is a highly intelligent marketer.

The only thing bad about this post is it’s title (Don, see #2 above…)

Sean’s Memorable Posts of 2012

1 – How to Create a Link Strategy (For Real) by Michael Martinez
Michael at SEO Theory has been one of the biggest influences on my ‘career’ and how I look to define a service. This post in particular discusses link building and strategy far beyond what you would see on your average SEO blog. At the end of the day take everything you read with a pinch of salt but there are some I believe more than others. Michael is one of those chosen few.

2 – Crowdfunding – The Overlooked SEO Link Building Strategy by Chris Gilchrist
Easily the most underrated post of 2012. An SEO technique that I think could really be useful in terms of developing future relationships and obviously gaining links. Chris has written some smart posts over the last year but this one definitely deserved a better readership. Want to create relevant links that your competitors aren’t getting for a relatively small price? Look no further.

3 – Authority Bloat: An SEO Industry Problem by Ross Hudgens
Unsurprisingly this is one of my favourite posts, Ross is one of the smartest and most professional SEO’s out there. This post puts across how important it is to create something of true value that is non replicable by your competitors. This to me is the truth and the future of online marketing. Read it, digest it and improve your campaigns in 2013. I also advise you read, listen and watch these.

Anthony’s Memorable Posts of 2012

1 – Creating relations and a buzz about your business takes strategy and delicate care. 92 Ways to Get (and Maximize) Press Coverage by Chris Winfield is a solid how-to pr piece, which is rooted in classic methods, yet the delivery and maxims hold true in the digital age.

2 – This is a presentation, and if/when I get a hold of a live video, I’ll change it out. The name says it all – How to Build a Large, Passionate Audience from Scratch (by Rob Woods). It takes you from conception, to identifying consumers/personas, to segmenting/differentiating channels/approach, to application and measurement.

3 – Time for some action – The Templates You Need to Create Actionable SEO Audit Reports by Aleyda Solis. It’s not about ‘how’ to conduct an audit, though resources are within. It visually maps out an overall assess/address management system, that if followed, will make progress.