Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing

My esteemed colleague, Mr. Paul Woodhouse, mentioned in his most recent blog that he’s not one to fall in love easily. While that type of cynical temperament is to be expected from a Brit (and a fine Brit he be, as best they come), the same cannot be said of this Celtic lad (a far superior bloodline, if you ask me). I literally fall in love at the drop of a dime.

The general rule of thumb around my house growing up was that if it existed, I loved it. Fortunately, my grump-of-a-brother was the complete opposite so as to keep the world in balance. His nickname was Hater and thus substantially cooler than mine (Lovey). Creative parents, I know.

Anyways, notable apples-of-my-eye have included baby carrots, Scottish jackets, the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and that Lifehouse song from the Dodge commercials. When I love something, I can’t get enough of it. Most recently, however, my proverbial heart-bubbles have been floating towards the most traditional of targets: a cute girl. More specifically, a cute girl who goes on 13 miles runs for kicks.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “What does this have to do with search marketing… or even marketing in general?” Well, as Craig Ferguson would say, “Bare with me! I’ll get there after a few beers!” It’s not like you’d rather be tooting around with AdWords Editor anyways.

Earlier this week I grabbed a quick lunch with said girl; at which point I mentioned that I love running in the rain. I wasn’t lying… I do love running in the rain, only I like running in the rain during the summer (I despise the cold) and I haven’t actually gone for a run in the rain in years, let alone a run over three miles.

A day later, as fate would have it, I was walking through the Wellness Center parking lot (the local sports complex) during a torrential downpour. Who do I see standing at the doors, prepped and ready to run? None other than the Cute Runner Girl.

“I took your advice yesterday and ran in the rain and loved it! Do you want to come with me today?”

Of course, I meant to respond with something along the lines of, “Absolutely not! Are you crazy?! It’s cold and wet out here! I’m going to go shoot hoops.” Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, we’ll see how it plays out), only “Absolutely!” came out of my mouth.

Long-story-short, after about 3 painful miles at an absurd pace and what had-to-of-been several hundred gallons of water being dumped on my head, I stopped.

“I’m sorry. I have to turn back. I’m dead!”

“OK! Thanks for coming! I’m going to keep going! Bye!”

Now, I’ve done some pretty dumb things in the past in hopes of picking up some brownie points with a girl but – let me assure you – this particular episode takes the proverbial cake due to its high level of rediculocity.

As I walked/ran the lonely, puddle-filled miles back to my car, fighting off leg cramps and cussing at my water-logged iPod, I had plenty of time to think about how things went, how they could go from this point forward and how they could have gone differently if I had been completely forthright about a number of things.

This brings me to search marketing, search engine reputation management (SERM) and search engine optimization (SEO).

We’re in an age where it’s tough to escape our past actions and words due to an increase in the use and ease of digital mediums. For instance, thousands of college graduates nationwide are struggling to find jobs not because of a lack-of-qualifications, but because of documented douchebaggery on sites like Facebook or MySpace. Put yourself in the shoes of a recruiter…

“Hmmm… On paper, both candidates are equally qualified for this position but on the web, Candidate A has pictures posted of her graduation and family while Candidate B is clearly proud of the fact that he can do a 2-story beer bong. I think I’ll go with Candidate A.”

The same types of documented perils apply to businesses and organizations as well, particularly in the area of customer service and/or public perception. If a company either misrepresents itself or provides poor customer service on a consistent basis, you can be sure that someone somewhere will be angry enough to make disparaging remarks about the company, most likely on a consumer advocacy board of some merit. Oh yeah, you can also be sure that the search engine spiders will find, document and spread that disparaging remark to your target market.

That’s where SERM comes in handy.

SERM makes it possible for the GOOD bits about your company to rise to the top of the search engines so that negative information stays buried. By spending time on blogging, press optimization, search engine optimization, and paid search marketing, you are able to control the information which is presented to the world so that people see the positives rather than the angry tirades of one unhappy camper (who really can do a lot of damage if left unchecked).

Now, remember… I’m NOT advocating the use of SERM as a cloak for shoddy business practices like intentional customer neglect or punching babies for some odd reason. If you engage in poor business practices long enough, they will eventually catch up to you, much like a compulsive liar will eventually get his comeuppance in real life.

That being said, you really should strive to make your company as accessible and reliable as it can in the eyes of your target market because if you don’t, complaints WILL wind up on the internet and potential customers WILL be negatively influenced.

While I am enjoying the benefit of slightly misrepresenting myself in conversation (which is somewhat more forgettable, or at least explainable), your company has to deal with documented blunders on the internet… and the internet never forgets… which makes me wonder if I should even post this…

Oh well, I’ll bank on her not stumbling across this old SEO blog… but just in case she does…

Hey cutie. Want to rent a movie later? Maybe Prefontaine?

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