What a funny week it has been in search. One or two big players have been throwing their toys out of the pram over this article published at Search Engine Land. The article was criticised by many, Danny Sullivan quickly apologised for his misjudgment in publishing it (incidentally it was actually written by one of his colleagues) and that should have been the end of that.
However, much respected search marketer Rand Fishkin added his weight to the argument with a rather over the top (and frankly hilarious) attack on John Andrews who had already published some strong words about the original article.
Confused? Don’t worry. The details don’t really matter. I’m not going to get into the ins and outs of the argument itself. Instead, I would like to provide a reminder or two to some of these ‘leading lights’ of search; people who, at times, appear to take great delight in attacking one another with nothing short of petty, self gratifying and frankly immature behaviour. Did it ever occur to you what a waste of time it all is and more importantly the damage it does to the reputation of an industry already tarnished by the spammers, opportunists and downright charlatans of this world?
Healthy debate = good
Personal attacks on one another in the public domain = bad
No doubt, you will wonder who am I to give such advice. I’m just a Sales Director from little old England; a million miles away from the jet set ‘superstars’ of search. However, if any of you will care to listen, I’ll offer my ‘two bobs worth’ anyway!
Before you publish such attacks on one another, have a little think about what a person new to the industry might think if reading such rubbish. Or what a prospect, who happened to check in for the first time on your blog, would think of you. Do you think such content shows you in a good light? Does it portray the type of person a prospect would want to do business with? And what about those of us in the industry who, although we have never had the pleasure of meeting you, have great respect for the work you do in leading and driving the industry forward; do you think we enjoy seeing the most recognised names in the industry attacking one another in such a personal way? It is one thing to have a difference of opinion on a search related manner. It is quite another to publish comments which are derisory to one’s character.
If you are new to search marketing, you are forgiven for wondering whether any of us actually do any work. In between the constant bickering, the blogging, the forum posts, the ‘twittering’ and attending conferences, I honestly don’t know how most search marketers actually get any work done! And what is the purpose of much of this activity? For me, a lot of it is about attention and self assurance; a desire to be seen as ‘number one’. But whilst all of this time is spent on activities designed to win acclaim from those of us who actually already know that you’re pretty good at what you do, people new to the industry and new to search are being forgotten.
This is highlighted in the case above; a simple difference of opinion resulting in the airing of dirty laundry in a very public domain with no consideration to how it might look to the wider world.
Its almost as if some search marketers themselves are forgetting the new rules that we spend so much time discussing and educating our clients about; publish anything on the Internet and it can be easily found…by anybody! And what you publish can be potentially very damaging, no matter who you are.
One of the more recent services a lot of search marketers provide for their clients is reputation management. I think we all need to take a step back and think very carefully about our own reputations online. Such personal, and at times, rather vicious attacks (on one another!) do not show this industry in a good light. So for anyone who cares to listen please ‘think before you type’.
Much love and respect from a disgruntled and disappointed search marketer in (rainy) ‘Blighty’.
P.S. Some may argue I am as bad as those individuals I have mentioned in even spending the time blogging about this. However, I feel passionately about this industry of ours and my comments are only meant to highlight the issue, not to get involved in any of the specifics of the argument itself. This is the last time I shall comment on the issue as I have no desire (or the time) to get involved.