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March 16, 2011


Search Marketing Mediocrity Madness

by Anthony Verre

There’s something about the allure of March Madness. A near-perfect tournament platform, no second chances, every achievement or failure highlighted and magnified. Powerhouses can be toppled in 40 minutes and the unknown can slingshot to stardom. I think that’s precisely why we, as a nation, love it so much; it’s what we want life to emulate. Where the only advantages you have is what you came with: preparation, talent, and the untamed will to win. There aren’t many places left where heroes are born from dust in single moment.

In many respects, SEO and Search Marketing are a lot like March Madness. Every one of us comes to the table with different backgrounds; some of us were teachers, some of us biochemical scientists, some of us soldiers, some of journalists, some of us lawyers, and the list goes on. But a majority come to the table with our experience, our talent(s), our will succeed, and our passion for search marketing. And some of us don’t.

Mediocrity as a Function of the Market

I’m thankful people like to make fast, quick money. I’m very thankful people glide on the hem of burgeoning industries and posture skills and knowledge. Sure, those people create PR problems (possibly big ones), but guess what else they leave in their wake? A swath of mediocrity. A trail of website miscues and gaffs so long and wide, professionals can drive a fleet of trucks through it.

Let’s be clear, mediocrity-fixing isn’t a 1-2-3 turnaround. Sometimes it can do irreparable damage if let go for long enough. But, mediocrity is an essential function of the capitalist market. Mediocrity establishes professional baselines for knowledge, skill-levels, and pricing scales. Think of it like this:

SEO Mediocrity Standard Deviation

Without Mediocrity…

As search marketing and SEO have entered a new era where “nice to have” is no longer in a company’s marketing budget lexicon, and as companies become more educated (used very loosely) about SEO and SEM, it stands to reason, that professional SEOs and SEMs will do very well for themselves combating the aftershocks of mediocrity in the coming years.

Without mediocrity the capitalist market doesn’t function (in theory) if you ask Ayn Rand and her ilk. You’ve have to have been living in another dimension the last 60 odd years to see that mediocrity isn’t rewarded. That said, the system (in theory) makes allowances for this in order to create better, more knowledgeable, more profitable ways, which eventually become the mainstay. Until it isn’t. And, who knows, 3-5 years down the road we might be having this same discussion 🙂

Let's Not Be Too TransparentToo Much Transparency Will Kill the SEO Market

There are only a handful of times I’m ever going to side with a multi-national corporation, and this is one of them. Everyone wants more transparency from Google (and the others, I guess), but mainly Google. I say keep that algorithm so well veiled that it’s practically impenetrable. Yep, I said it.

I said it for one reason: it will keep mediocrity flourishing. Like most, I think the “(not-so) invisible hand” of Google is troublesome on a variety of levels. But for the most part, it’s an evil I’m willing to accept. And, if you take a step back, Google gives away a good bit of information. Enough information to be dangerous. And, selfishly, it keeps what I do at a premium. It takes a lot of work, research, testing, reading, talking, and time to get good at what we do. Even a slightly-open book diminishes that.

Take some time out today to (silently or out loud) thank your mediocre competition. Because the end game, which mediocre care less about, is that their efforts are going to continually keep feeding your pipeline. The mediocre have a “bash and dash” mentality, unless they’ve deluded themselves, they want what they can get now. They aren’t mapping out long-wave strategies, they aren’t interested in creating partnerships, and they aren’t truly interested in making both parties better.

And, if you’ll indulge me for a few moments, I need to get personal. There aren’t many special times of the year for meHappy Birthday Steve (save holidays and family birthdays), but this one of them or was. As many of you may know, my brother, Steven, passed away from leukemia nearly 3 years ago now. And, for us, March Madness was a tradition. Not only is this how we celebrated his birthday (March 16th), but it was one of the rare occasions in our adult lives were we our teenage selves again, just for those fleeting hours. And, I just want to wish him a happy birthday. Love you.

Read more from Business Philosophy, SEM, SEO
  1. Mar 16 2011

    Tony, what’s up with the new theme? I was caught off gaurd. If I can offer a suggestion, make it more Milwaukee-ish. Maybe a background shot of Miller Park (hey, the Brew Crew has as good a shot this year as any!)?

    But I kind of agree with your post, in a selfish way. These market forces are what keep our services at a premium.

    And cheers to March Madness!

    • Mar 20 2011


      Sorry to have caught you off guard, but the time to get the blog branded to Silver Arc Search was well over due. And, I think it has that “Milwaukee” flavor now, yes? 🙂

  2. Mar 20 2011

    The only problem I have is with the graph. Mediocracy is not the norm. If you look at the web as a whole, it is not even shaped on the bell. Mediocracy falls on top and I’d guess 75%+ of sites (commercial or otherwise) are plain crap (left of the curve). Really good websites are the handful you visit, and even some of those are iffy, its the 1mm backlinks that propel them.

    • Mar 20 2011


      Thanks for dropping by and the great comment! I don’t think I’m suggesting that mediocrity is the normative; average skill ability is norm (either with an average + or an average – ) And, if you had enough time, data, and more objective way grading the web, the web would be a bell curve of distributions. The heart of the argument is mediocrity propels the market, and the market (ideally) self-corrects to more knowledgeable, more efficient, and better skilled entities.

  3. Mar 21 2011

    Tony, I like the dialogue.

    And I agree. It reminds me of why McDonald’s is successful… mediocrity. You always know what you’re going to get, even if it ain’t great.

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