A Cautionary Tale…beware of developers when in the pursuit of Internet Marketing. Sounds like a Brothers Gimm Fairy Tale. The moral is that the roles assumed by many developers often leads to very understandable clashes with outside Internet Marketing.
I once needed a story that summarizes the situation so I could point to it (for a prospective client) and say, “Look there may be someone in your organization that won’t like what I’m recommending and asking them to do. And that individual is a gatekeeper with the keys I need in order to help your company.”
So here is my story that I hope encapsulates for you, what to expect and what will probably go wrong. ( I imagine its already going wrong if you found this post )
The management at this company felt they needed to try everything possible to attract more new visitors to their website in their highly competitive vertical ( an online-training vertical). Normal! Like all jobs, it started with an audit of the online properties.
When asking for administrative access to anything, a little resistance is expected from the gatekeeper(s). Again, normal. Beyond this, when resistance persists and objections appear, its usually a sign of that the job may be coming off the rails.
In my story a developer was the original creator of the website, and the setup of almost everything the company had online. Naturally they were also the gatekeeper, since the developer falls into these roles simply because there was no one else in the company who could handle the job at the time.
The first real warning flag appeared when the developer told me they (wrongly) believed that the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) I was hired to do was strictly confined to on-site tasks (confined to editing the website). This caused the developer to objected to any access beyond where they “believed” I should be allowed. I was finding little discrepancies and in order to find and solve problems, I was going beyond the comfort zone of the developer.
At this point, I was suggesting a bit of house cleaning of Google Accounts and Properties was necessary. The developer represented to management that my “new” direction was needless, with requests for logins to Google/Bing/ISP webmaster accounts. What one doesn’t know always seems useless.
Warning flag #2 appeared when this developer decided to “read up” on SEO best practices according to Google. The developer then concluded that nothing they had done could possibly be inadequate or wrong because they had “Googled” how to do it and follow every instruction. The developer told management that all the “little issues” I was “getting picky about”, Google would totally understand.
(Google is so understanding! Makes one wonder why we would optimize anything.) I like to point out that Google’s very existence depends on cleverly hiding how their search engine works. Google is a marketing company, before it is a technology company. Well by the nature of marketing, everything is about deception. Google’s lack of clarity means that the entire SEO business is easy to interrogate and discredit in this process – because we often lack that tangible evidence. Well here it is…after the fact.
A little bit more about SEO house-cleaning; one can clean a house and it can still look like a trash-heep. Right? House cleaning sometimes means letting go of things in order to move forward. Sometime that means loosing some analytics (analytics that are usually worthless anyway). Unfortunately there are people who would rather not let go of anything. Some even pay to store old crap they no longer need (re. in a self-storage unit), because they can’t bring themselves to throw anything away, even though they know it has almost no value, or worse, its hurting them. In this case, the developer convinced the manager of this project that they could not abandon their worthless analytics contained in a stray webmaster account, so the job stopped there.