The first time I actively argued the need to Speak for Yourself was three years ago, on a panel discussion pitting Digital Marketing, PR, SEO, a social technologist and me against each other. Back then, SEO was still a viable alternative. It was possible to hire someone to manipulate your search results and get you to the top of search rankings. Money talked – the more you spent, the higher you got. My arguments were mostly practical (‘this is your voice on the internet, why would you leave it completely out of your control?’), with a bit of idealism thrown in (you know, ‘authenticity’).
There have been a lot of changes in Google’s search algorithms, and ‘organic’ has become the key word in search – meaning the words you and I write, and the actual links from blogs like mine and yours, are the only way to be found. Blogs and websites using black or grey hat SEO gimmicks actually got penalised for doing so. SEO as an industry still exists and still tries to find ways of manipulating search, but all they really can do is think of words to enter into your blog or website to help it be relevant to as wide a variety of searches as possible. And yes, Google also is a private company and likes revenue, so digital marketing – what to feed the beast to get it to do what you want – is still very relevant, but THAT you can hire people to do.
Even before Google changed its algorithms and proved me technically right, you would have without doubt done the right thing by just going ahead and speaking about what you do. Doing so, you will use the words that will get you up the search rankings, because it’s you talking about what you do. Logic, right?
Now that there is no way to manipulate search any more, this is the only way. Hence everyone who has an interest in your business or organisation being up in the search results has an interest in getting this right. Of course in a business, the team tasked with doing this is