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Hey, It Turns Out I’m An EMO – Earned Media Optimizer!

by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 03/08/2012

[caption id=”” align=”alignright” width=”300” caption=”Image via Wikipedia”]English: seo company[/caption]

I’m struggling with the new thing I’m going to call myself. I remember in my youth resisting being called a computer geek, and then later in life resisting SEO—until it was undeniably the sexiest and most valuable part of what I was doing. With each new label, I was reinventing myself and accepting what people wanted to call me. To this day, being a computer geek leaves a bad taste in my mouth—it’s just a tool! And don’t even get me started on all the things wring with the SEO title. But the label is necessary, for jobs and such.

Well, the transition is happening again, and what the true essence of what I’m becoming is difficult to label. One thing I know for sure is that in on the opposing side to advertising and media buying—perhaps, earned. The other thing that’s for sure is that the all-important “top-10” result list per keyword view of the world is breaking down. I’m not going down with that ship. New label! New label!

So, what’s that label? What direction am I personally going, and where do i want to drag people along? I take joy in using very little resources, and turning it into something big through cleverness and genuine merit. I like to connect dots other people don’t see, and release potential that was already there—just waiting to be picked up like money off the floor. Conversely, if you can just throw a big marketing budget at something to make it big, then I’m not interested. Anyone can do that. This sentiment is pretty common among clever people with little budget. It’s what made SEO—the great playing field leveler—so appealing. That’s not gone. It’s just driven into the tail.

Earned media is the term frequently being tossed around as the super-set of what I do, and I’m cool with that. However, the third word is tricky. My first thought was “marketer”, but I like it less and less. My second thought was “architect” but that title is too full of itself. Designer? Engineer? Specialist? Technologist? Optimizer? Hmmmmm. I’m liking that. Earned Media Optimizer. Earned Media Optimization.

While search engine optimization is certainly still important and still part of what I do, it is just part of bolstering the discovery of content. I take issue with Google having two sets of results—one social, and one not. Even PageRank is social. How people link their websites to each other is a social act. It’s just that it’s only one “old-school” vector—a particularly manipulate-able one, because of how anonymous and unaccountable web admins are.

This is in contrast to social, where if you +1, tweet or like something, there’s little denying it was you—and abusers of the system can be chopped off at the profile. Conversely, your influence can grow by doing a great job. We are entering a golden-age for Martha Stewert or Opera-like personal identities. And the discipline isn’t terribly different than SEO—impacting the graph—only now the social graph instead of the link graph.

Black hat tricks are less applicable, because you’re working through formal authenticated API’s (requiring login), rather than the invisible hands of webmasters. White hat techniques take on a whole other level of meaning, because your content has to either be buzzworthy and meritorious—or be dead. Or shall I say, relegated to the long-tail, where old school SEO will live on (who’s voting up the pages for obscure replacement parts, etc?).

And to tell you the truth, it’s always worked this way—hasn’t it? How did Google rise to such stellar popularity in the days when you couldn’t tweet about it, or share it in Facebook? Well, word-of-mouth (i.e. social) through other vectors such as email and office chatter.

Plus One, Likes and Tweets are just the formalization of such chatter, and an amplification effect. But once everything’s amplified, you’re back to a level playing-field where big budgets or awesome cleverness matter again. Yep, I think I’ll become an earned media optimizer. Now, it’s time to plant my flag in that concept by using one of the most important tenants of SEO… choose a good headline, which thanks to a search-friendly platform will manifest as the URL, title tag and links to the page… submit… done. I’m an EMO… NOT an SEO…

…Hey look, I’m in position 8 of natural search in Google (incognito mode) within moments of posting this article, complete with my Google Author verified picture and all. Ha, ha, ha!

[caption id=”attachment_15642154401” align=”alignnone” width=”546” caption=”In position 8 on the term “Earned Media Optimization” within moments of posting.”]Earned Media Optimization[/caption]

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