The Internet Imitates Life

Posted on May 13, 2013 in

Ugly Office

A classic debate in the search for perfection is how “art should imitate life”  As far back as Plato, philosophers sought to understand how best to use life observations to inspire art and literature.

Perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch to draw this as a parallel to the current state of search engine marketing, but it’s one I’m going to make anyway.   After all, Google’s original idea was to mimic the citation system of academia using links.

The rules it takes to make a great business online are pretty much the same as they are offline.  Taking shortcuts online is as foolhardy as taking them offline.

Imagine the following pitch to a start up business.   There’s a location picked out that will only cost $10 a month.  We’ve made a tool to let you decorate it yourself for only $29.  Of course, since advertising is important we’ve gotten a way to do that for only a $50 a month, and we guarantee placement on networks.

A pitch like that would get laughed out of the building.  If any of that could actually be delivered, we’d expect to have a thimble sized office in the worst part of town, decorated horribly.  The ads would run a 3am, at best, once a month and generate no business.

Yet if we translate that into online, hundreds if not thousands of businesses buy into that every month.   They’ll buy shared hosting, use a junky site builder, and buy shady SEO services with “guaranteed” results, and wonder why results never come.

Tricks and short cuts don’t work offline, and they never should have online.

Search engines have realized this for a long time.  They’ve sought to refine and improve the relevance of their responses based upon real world parallels.  Links were meant to be trusted citations and content depth was meant to understand expertise.  They are at work to launch signals based upon personal reputation and networks.  They’ve created detection methods to separate authentic signals from manipulated ones.

Even if there are still some loopholes in the system, we all must realize that real investment is required to have a business online.

Investment online can take the form of solid community relationships, excellent customer service and remarkable products.  Even investments in design can payoff in terms of credibility and conversion.   Genuine, relevant advertising can grow awareness.

In short, Internet business imitates real life business.  Don’t expect anything less out of your SEO firm.

Do you agree?  Leave your comments.


By Steve Hammer

Steve is the President of RankHammer. When he's not working with clients to grow online, he's probably looking for a great restaurant no one's heard of yet. He is fully Adwords Certified (Analytics, AdWords and Display) and a graduate of the Kellogg School of Management.