I must confess, I have failed you. I have failed our family.
Emblazoned on our family crest, above a finely-etched image of a brand new iMac and Moz’s Roger, lies the family motto, which I have so disgracefully shamed; “The Links Will Come Naturally.”
I have not lived up to that motto, father. The links have not come naturally. I’ve had to build them myself. I have even built links without building relationships. This is not how you raised me.
When I was 12, you shot a man. It is a vivid memory for me. I can still picture the rage on your face, when that wretched man interrupted your afternoon pint and dared to call you a “link builder”. You challenged him to a duel. At dawn, you both plucked a pistol from a silver platter, turned your backs, took thirty steps and turned. You were the victor, and no man has dared to call you those unsavory names since then. His family’s tears fueled your personal content marketing brand better than even the most retweeted Tweet ever could.
Your blog post describing the duel was a huge inbound marketing success. “This is what a real man looks like,” you said, pointing at the deluge of comments and social media shares. “A real man never asks for a link in exchange for content. A real man attracts links like a magnet.”
I have not attracted links like a magnet and I have ruined the family name. I run around in some bad circles, father – I associate with people who still call themselves “SEOs”…and even “link builders”. They have not rebranded themselves into inbound marketers. I have fallen in with the blue collar ditch diggers, building links with my own sweat and blood. Such things are beneath our family and I feel nothing but shame.
“You never place a link with the intention of increasing search rankings,” you told me one morning before your weekly fox hunt. “That is spam. Never forget this, my son.”
I loathe what I have become. I must confess, father, I am an SEO. A link builder. I am not an inbound marketer or a relationship builder. My link building strategies may be formidable, but I cannot deny I am just like all the other riffraff.
Rest assured, though, father – we hate ourselves just as much as you hate us. Some of us have evolved, abandoning Search Engine Optimization for advanced “link earning” techniques. This new breed of “inbound marketers” have become the elite, and would make better sons to you than I have.
I have written articles that have earned minimal social shares and not a single comment. I have provided content that does not include graphs or charts. Sometimes I have stooped so low that I have merely provided entertainment in exchange for a link – and I did it all in the name of higher search rankings.
What I do is effective, but my work is as lowbrow as the work of the blacksmith who shoes your horses. I know you disapprove and I understand why you disowned me. I ask only this – when Wadsworth, our beloved family butler, serves your after-dinner whisky tonight, please remember me as the bright-eyed boy who clung to your every word. I regret that I had not the strength to follow your example. We walk different paths now, father, and I must continue down mine – it is a dark path, but it is my own.
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.
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?”
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.”
After some encouraging comments from the community about my previous work diary, I thought I’d also post about my experience at my first
SEO inbound marketing conference. I know what you’re thinking – does this guy ever stop and take a break? No rest for the wicked, my friends…
7.30am – Super pumped about my first conference! Irritating that I had to get up early for the train, but these are the types of sacrifices that an inbounder has to make on a daily basis, no biggie. 1st class seats though, that’s what I’m talking about! Luckily I came suited and booted, possibly the best dressed in the carriage. Just call me James Bond; James Bond.
Disaster! I was just in the toilet moisurising and I noticed some white paint in my hair! Dulux non-drop gloss – it does NOT come out easy. Why did the Mrs have to make me paint the day before my big conference? She’s never understood how important I am.
While I wait for a taxi I double check that I’m following all the conference speakers on Twitter so that they recognise me. One of them has used a ridiculous cartoon avatar. This really doesn’t help. Am I having a panic attack? I send them each a jovial tweet and drop in a joke about (not provided).
8.30am – I’ve arrived! An attractive woman asks me for my autograph and hands me a lanyard with my personal brand and Twitter handle on. I doubt I’ll need it with all the work I have done in the last few months developing my real online persona. Guest posting FTW! I can’t see any of my Twitter friends nearby so I grab an espresso and find my way to the cool seats (I decide to sit near the back so I can chat to my neighbours and make new friends while the presentations are on). A true inbounder never misses an opportunity to network!
9:30am – I connect the holy trinity (laptop, iPad and iPhone) to the Wi-Fi so I can start live-blogging. This is what I’ve read other people do at conferences so I better get on it, after all if I don’t write about it where will my readers get the information from?! I Evernoted a YouMoz post the other week about someone’s live-blog getting them over 1000 new business leads afterwards. And 0% bounce rate! I’m going to fill my boots! My awesome live blogging hits a snag with Wi-Fi dropping out every 5 minutes. I’ll have to go for a round-up post instead. My old Nokia phone is the only thing that can connect to 3G, at least I can tweet from that. I start live tweeting every word anyone says, along with the conference hashtag. My fingers are sore but it’s worth it. Regurgitation is king!
10.30am – Sitting at the back was a masterstroke! I am all over the coffee and cakes as soon as the break starts, and my networking plan is working perfectly. The guy to my right is a German called Hans who owns a massive pharmaceuticals company. I get his Twitter ID and add him straightaway. I let him see my profile page first and play the waiting game. I’m pretty sure he was impressed that I’ve got over 1,000 real followers.
11.30am – In an effort to develop our relationship further I show Hans the meme I made of Rand and a beard-based pun. He doesn’t seem to know who Rand is. What an amateur. Holy crap! The current speaker just said he built his slide deck last night – what a legend! Planning is for pussies.
12.30pm – I see some of my Twitter buddies over lunch talking to a couple of the speakers. Probably asking for advice again. I casually stroll over to impart some wisdom of my own. Annoyingly, I don’t get introduced to the speakers and they cut me out the conversation. In their defence, it’s highly likely that they see me as a threat. I abandon my friends and spend the rest of the lunch hour tweeting the conference hashtag with witty remarks. My aim is to get total coverage of the tweet wall. It’ll be impossible to avoid me in any Storify based posts – more brand value. I ask Siri to remind me to get my IQ tested again. I’ll surely get that invitation from Mensa any day now.
1.30pm – Refresh… nope. Refresh… YES! I’ve got a new follower! My tweet wall work is paying off already. Svetlana from Czech Republic. I immediately follow back – my auto-response will send her a message thanking her for the follow. I get back to live-tweeting and set the company Twitter account to retweet my musings. Social media automation is the future and I am its God.
2.30pm – The afternoon is drifting slightly, I’m not really interested in this content marketing presentation. Ok, ok, so content marketing does have its merits but come on it’s nothing on inbound marketing right? Anyway everyone knows that AuthorRank is the next big thing. That reminds me I need to upload a new headshot to Google+ so my author snippet shows up in the SERPs…
3.30pm – Finally another break! The live tweeting has made it hard to focus on the presentations. I really should learn to automate Siri and live tweeting, would save a lot of hard work! I tweet at each of the speakers that their presentation was the best of the day and wait for a response.
4.30pm – A hit! Wil Reynolds retweeted me! This is a turning point for my career, I can feel it. I wonder if he’d be interested in my latest blog post? I’ll tweet it to him later and we can discuss the points I raised at the after-party. I reply to all his other tweets and end with ‘twitter stalking FTW’ & #RCS. He’ll love that.
5.30pm – Conference over, quick change then it’s party time! I’ve told most of my Twitter mates I will ‘buy’ them a drink at the free bar! I’m such a card. I’m staying at the ‘official’ conference hotel. It’s on the company anyway and you get a Mac in every room! Although I don’t actually like Macs cos the buttons are all back to front.
6.30pm – I write up my feedback as soon as I’m back at the hotel and schedule my draft to publish whilst I’m at the party. Classic. I get halfway to the party before realising I’ve left my business cards in my other jacket! I rush back to get them. I’ve had new ones printed with ‘Inbound Marketing Ninja’ as my job title. That will definitely impress Rand.
7.30pm onwards – [REDACTED]