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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Kids in #Oconomowoc: There are no such things as SEO Experts.

They were celebrating was unclear and it was late.

Young Turks are all full of passion, possibilities, and a zest for "the new way of everything".  Kids of the internet, comfortable in that soft pool of warm ignorance - seven or eight, twenty-somethings out drinking; nowhere to go but up.

You remember those times, don't you? Think "The Breakfast Club" grows into "St. Elmo's Fire" on the way to "The Big Chill". I was smack-dab in the middle of Elmo's Fire expecting Rob to start blaring away on the Sax.

In some capacity, a few of these folks are builders of websites and experts in the way of SEO. They know all there is to know about, well, everything online - branding, selling, travel, food, publishing, online life, whiskey, tinder, and the ways of the world.

Predictably, as I queried deeper,  their conversation rolled defensively.  I admired their passion but they had no idea.

I told them "There are no such things as SEO experts but Curling is a sport..." - 

You would have thought I kicked a beehive and they never heard of curling.

The SEO expert in the crowd took exception, of course.  I mentioned the first four returns on every search are bought and paid for and the algorithmic changes Google inflicts benefit only google.

Calmer winds prevailed.  He understood.

I said, "Eyeballs do not equate to sales" -


"Attention is the new currency," one yelled.

"That's like paying for your internet by staring at the bill," I replied.  They didn't get it...until they did.

When web/media experts spew this line, it seems more like a rationalization.

I postulated "the passing of brands" -

It's happening.  Labels, brands, silos, demographics, and vertical industries are all combined into one, huge horizontal, market.  The Blob.  I was hitting nerves.

We ranted to each other, it was a group rant.  They thought I was unhinged, opinionated, old, and out of the know.  Aghast, in unison, they chimed, "What's your BRAND."  One might have asked if I still had my AoL email account, but I don't remember.

Then they googled me.


"Death of the Copier?!... a book?! Really?" -  the branding expert quipped.
" used to mean something else, now it means the death of those who copy...", my reply.

"Fifty Shades of Managed Print Services! What the heck is managed print services?" - the fresh from South Africa, website builder spouted.
"...nothing.  It is dead...", my eyes are hurting by now, rolling on an infinite loop.

"People still print?!"
"No," I said.

And that's when it happened.  The sparks and fury of embroiled discourse cooled. I sat there, sipping on Jack, watching them, digits a blur, reading.


To their credit, in less than 7 minutes, they had my LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and blog up and running. The giggles subsided as all they scanned and read - blogs, articles, bios, on and on...they had it all - my online roots run deep.

In a few moments, they knew more about me than most.  Of course, all was forgotten seconds after leaving the bar - the new currency has a short span.

We are quick to label those who know a bit more than us, on any specific subject, as experts.  I know from the inside.  Often, expert recommendations are academic - rarely tested in the field. This is what we've done to an entire generation.

We bestow the mantel of "they know more than we" just because they grew up on their thumbs and we built tree forts.

Somehow, maturing in a world that has never been without the internet makes people 'smarter'.  How can this be true?

"We shouldn't vault them as more enlightened, we should feel sad that we haven't pointed out the constellations ."

The Millennials don't know crap about crap and that's okay - how many of you knew everything when you were in your 20s?  How many of us thought we did?

But for one generation to regard the up as coming more relevant is a disservice to the younger; we are putting more pressure on them simply by referring to them as Millennials/Unique.


The lessons are simple and complex -
  1. The world of the web is driven by attention; nothing more than a popularity contest.
  2. Some marketers mix B2C and B2B concepts.  True, the convergence is occurring, but to blanket, an entire ecosystem with one strategy is a fool's errand.
  3. The "Hippies", "Gen X, Y", etc.  Are simply MARKETING LABELS.  Segmentation.  That is all.  Unlike generation gaps of the past based on solid walls of years and societal separation,  technology permeates beyond the boundaries of age - the great equalizer.
Like the people from Kalamazoo, who I met in an Irish pub in Oconomowoc, Wi., you and I have journeyed the same path.  Fortunately, we had the stars to guide us - they use Google Maps.

We shouldn't vault them as more enlightened, we should feel sad that we haven't shared the constellations with them.

For me, the affirmation was stellar - we are all the same.

Oh to be young again.

I wish I didn't know now, what I didn't know then...

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