No Shortcuts in Marketing

The Interflora search marketing scandal has brought to light how marketing shortcuts hurt brands. Brands need to invest enough time and effort in doing it right.

While most marketers are on a constant high with the lightning speed at which trends are evolving, there are some brands that are going slightly cuckoo in desperate attempts to keep up. Case in point, the Google’s ranking penalty to Interflora and BBC this year that made search marketing news.

Interflora, a flower company from the UK, woke up one morning to find that its rankings were pulled down not only for high-performing keywords but also for its own brand name! Their crime? Unnatural link building using paid links. The Interflora then went on a desperate attempt at damage control by asking people who included their links in personal websites to pull them away. Needless to say that left the public confounded. Organic traffic having taken a major beating, Interflora then had only its PPC ads to rely on for traffic.

Google’s reasoning was stated as below:

“Selling links (or entire advertorial pages with embedded links) that pass PageRank violates our quality guidelines, and Google does take action on such violations.” – Matt Cutts, Google’s Distinguished Engineer and Head of Webspam

The penalty on Interflora was lifted subsequently, but Google then sent BBC an unnatural link notification for a particular article making search marketing professionals everywhere sit up and take notice.

Apart from aiming at high search rankings, some marketers also indulge in buying likes, followers, views and so on to prove/improve their popularity. Practices like these make one wonder if this is reflective of desperation amongst marketers. No matter what kind of competition and pressure businesses face, there are some questions one must consider before giving in to the ‘dark side’:

  • Assuming that you were successful in purchasing backlinks or followers, how exactly do these numbers contribute to improved levels of engagement?
  • What is the point of having an irrelevant following who in all probability does not exist?
  • If your logic is that a certain number of followers/traffic will encourage others to take notice, how will your target audience connect to these fake profiles/recommendations and be influenced by it?
  • Assuming that your ‘numbers’ are high, how does that translate in terms of sales for your organization?

These are just a few questions that will get the wheels in your head turning. On the whole what marketers need to remember is that

a) The number game is a dangerous one that is a huge waste of time and resources. Quality always trumps quantity.

b) Marketing efforts have an incubation period and there’s no such thing as instant gratification for a marketer.

c) The balance between being agile and tenaciously clinging to schedules is crucial. The right balance will be the formula for success.

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