It looks like my recent guest post from Corey Philips, where he advocates dropping the focus on search engine optimization (SEO) while embracing social media, PPC and lead generation services, has attracted a response from Brian Javeline. He hates the lead generation services, and advocates for effective SEO. (Javeline doesn’t have a problem with PPC and social media, so on these aspects, their views intersect.)
Javeline will submit his own guest column in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I’ll dare to wade into the controversy, perhaps by encouraging (like a friendly Canadian liberal would) the middle ground.
I believe, frankly, if you focus/depend on either the lead generation services or SEO you’ll lose ground and control. If you focus on things you own and control you’ll come out ahead. Effective measures include enhancing your website’s structure and quality (including lots of good content), coupled with solid business practices to earn and encourage positive consumer reviews — while you build effective response tools to deal with negative comments.
Paid advertising fits somewhere in the middle in the picture; after you’ve taken care of the basics, paid media can prime the pump and help you pull in profitable leads and business — and if you do it right, allow you to effectively control your lead flow so that you never need to desperately scramble for customers. As well, many media outlets (including ours) provide effective content generation resources that can supplement your own SEO/social media content generation tools.
My biases lead to the SEO rather than the lead generation side of the spectrum, but these biases may relate to my close and personal relationships at Google developed through one of my other foundational marketing priorities — community/association service. Some years ago, I voluntarily started answering questions on the Google AdSense ad serving platform, ultimately becoming a Top Contributor/Product Expert there. Although paid Google ads in fact deliver only a very small part of my business revenue (we sell most of our advertising directly) –the relationships have resulted in annual expense paid trips to California. The next summit/meet-up, in fact, will start on Oct. 31.
At these summits, I have the privilege of seeing face-to-face some individuals with whom I generally intersect only online. Some of our friendliest (yet most heated) discussions occur when we veer from the advertising serving issues to our political/personal outlooks. I think the Second Amendment is nuts (unbridled gun ownership to me just leads to carnage from nut-cases) and know first-hand the quality of Canadian “socialized” medicine. It really is quite good, and Canadians don’t worry about being bankrupted because their health fails. And we have a significantly higher life expectancy, as well.
Despite our differences, after the flame and fury end, we get along really well — after all, we all have a common experience — the magic ticket (which includes airfare, food and plenty of drink) from Google to the grand annual party.
It may be a liberal cop-out that there can be more than one correct answer, depending on your perspective. I’ll allow you to figure that out when Brian Javeline provides his viewpoint in a few weeks.