For those that follow the Great Leap Studios Twitter account, you’ll note that I have long been a fan of the Seattle Mariners. I follow them somewhat religiously, research the advanced statistics on players like Kyle Seager and Dustin Ackley, monitor the team’s front office and more on a regular basis. Even after baseball is over, I check all of the major Mariner websites multiple times a day for news, updates, and conversation.
The Mariners, though, are a bad team. Despite die-hard fandom, I am also a realist. This team’s poor player development, mediocre free agent signings, and unwillingness to create a higher payroll have caused my Seattle Mariners to become somewhat of a joke. Combine that with a stadium that seems to punish right handed hitters with strong winds coming in from the left field wall, and you have a team that simply doesn’t attract a lot of positive press, or a lot of free agents.
In fact, Seattle’s become such an undesirable location that baseball agents are now using it to market their clients. The Mariners had a player last year named Kendrys Morales who had a good-but-not-that-good year batting 4th for the Mariners. He was offered 14 million to come back for 2014, but his agent declined it, and is now using the fact that the Mariners are bad as marketing for his player:
- “He managed to have a good season while playing for the Mariners”
- “He was punished by Safeco, like other hitters that have come before him.”
- “He is the kind of player that thrives in a strong environment, and the Mariners were a mess.”
While none of those are exact quotes, they’re paraphrases of what he’s been arguing – the Mariners are viewed in such a negative light, that he thinks teams are more likely to sign Morales if he talks about how bad the Mariners were for his player. It’s like negative marketing – something has become so negatively marketed that some agents can use it to their advantage by talking about how “Not-Mariners” are such a better option.
Negative Marketing and SEO
It feels to me like the same thing has happened to the term SEO. As with the Mariners, the view of SEO started to slip when the tactics that SEO experts were using failed, or cost too much for little benefit. SEO was then given a bad name, and you find that numerous companies say the same thing with regard to their own SEO services:
- “Fire your SEO, SEO is dead”
- “We’re not an SEO. We’re an online branding company.”
- “We’re not an SEO company, we’re a content marketing company.”
We even do the same thing here at Great Leap Studios once in a while, because generally we don’t want to be associated with SEO. We want to be associated with the most effective service we offer, and a term that inspires confidence in others.
But the problem here is one of semantics. SEO is not a set operation. SEO is merely “search engine optimization.” Any company that tries to work with your website to help it rank well in search engines is, by its very nature, and SEO company. Any company that tries to make sure that you have multiple pages show up for various keywords is an SEO company. SEO was never a specific set of procedures. It HAD a specific set of procedures at one time or another, but it was never defined by those procedures.
SEO was merely a term for what those procedures did – optimize a website for search engines. Any strategy designed to improve search engine rank is, by default, an SEO company, and while there is more involved now than there was in the past (such as ensuring that your website appeals to visitors and consumers, rather than only worrying about the front page), the main goal is the same – try to improve your rank in search engines.
Like the Mariners, SEO is now placed in a negative light to market something else. But it’s probably unfair to the term. SEO is still alive and well, and simply has been used negatively to make other services seem more appealing. Unlike the Mariners, SEO can still be successful, provided you do not define SEO by the past strategies used to succeed, and rather define it by its literal definition – creating a website that appeals to search engines.