Many SEOs Have ED... but by How Much?

When it comes to various forms of SEOs campaigns, typically when the dust settles and the smoke clears, clear winners and losers are apparent. Just as it's true with businesses' larger strategies, it's equally true at the campaigns level.

For example, with reputation management campaigns (which are basically search / social media oriented PR campaigns), typically they come down to being either positive or negative in nature. With positive campaigns it's about spreading good vibes about a given brand (using the term very loosely to mean that which can be a company, product, person, meme or concept). With negative campaigns... you guessed it. Promotion vs. demotion, either way systematic and methodical. For me, the latter are only things I might be up for in cases where the target IMHO really does deserve some negative attention and such a campaign can be justifiably seen as a public service. In other words like most people, companies and otherwise, in terms of delivering results I do much better work when I actually believe (in) my own hype - whatever it is I'm hyping up/down at a given moment.

While some things in SEO come down to being about trying to gain "unfair" advantages according to some, I tend to think it's actually totally fair when the nature of the Web can bring things to a level about just your brains vs. your opponent's. When resources and incentives are relatively matched, that's what it oft boils down to. Regardless, y'know... Karma. The Web rewards what it sees as transparency and authenticity so it's good to keep it real in the long run despite whatever tactical vehicles along the way.

The point is, in most SEOs' careers there are times when there's potential to do "evil" and with those moments can also come opportunities to offset that, at least in theory. For example, for every brand one does damage to, one could make a point to say something nice about a number of other equally deserving brands. In tossing mud on a One, one can simultaneously send flowers to a Many and all in a quantified way. Effectively, in campaigning one can find oneself accumulating an ED, or "Evil Density" rating.

Are you an SEO, social media marketer and/or crowdhacker? If so, how much ED do you currently have in light whatever you're working on right now? If you don't know, calculating can be simple. Here's just one option:

([# brands attacking]*[their avg. market cap])/([# brands promoting]*[their avg. market cap])

Obviously, more complex variations on the theme can be rendered. One could do all kinds of fancy stuff like try to factor in estimations of average in-market customer values, maybe put in some LTV weighting in cases where one is working on big campaigns in light of how it can take companies a few years on average to recover from major PR crises (which various major PR firms can attest to), etc.; one can spec for one's own situation... keeping in mind also that, if one is running a business, getting caught doing stuff like posting fake reviews hyping your stuff - or other forms of self-serving sentiment fraud - can get you fined. Another money thing being, even getting away with it still may not make any contributions to revenues.

Obviously not everyone spends a lunch break like this, or even thinking about this stuff. Marketers who don't really ever try pushing the envelope with their skills and operate within the confines of dogma often don't ever need to. On a related note as for reputation management as a core concept BTW, I think anyone who dismisses clients of such services as people who must have something to hide is probably selling something themselves, or at least has a really narrow view and a lack of imagination. For example, an already comfortably retired SEO might easily spend a chunk of their time shifting their skills more to volunteer activism, doing pro-bono work for non-profits or others struggling in the economic downturn such as their favorite neighborhood small businesses who could use a competitive edge to help keep their doors open. Tactics are tactics, and they apply to objectives that can go beyond just trying to push bad news down onto SERPs 2-3 or below. How they're applied and why is a different consideration set, more often than not.

For me anyway, unscientific as they are, being a long way from retirement I've found little exercises like this help in the rare cases where I'm contemplating at length whether or not to accept a certain project in the first place. Sometimes it pays to take whatever work comes that one has bandwidth for, but in those "could vs. should" moments it pays more to know that one way or another one has thought comfortably through how much help vs. hurt one is really setting out to do to the bigger picture. It's also important with reputation management matters, especially if it's about troubleshooting in some form, to mind the difference between treating root causes and treating symptoms. Most of the time, Marketing folks are positioned to try to address just symptoms.

Spread His Word

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