Offices are funny things. A few dozen people, with suitably diverse skillsets, from suitably diverse backgrounds — and each one develops into something entirely unique. The sum of each individual’s experiences merging into… some call it company culture… but I see it as more of a tribe.
No office is complete without its own strange rituals, born of spontaneity, but somehow stuck for no particular reason, adaptations perhaps, for indiscernible months. Before you know it, someone’s spanking someone else with, you know, those foot-long ergonomic palm rests in a totally not homoerotic way.
Three years and a week ago, I started at Linkdex with a brief to produce a report on search and SEO in the travel sector. With a young and exponentially talented data science team (who never quite managed to convince me why I couldn’t use that word as a superlative), we fired up our spreadsheets and set to work.
The keyword universe in travel, as you may know, is unfathomably huge, and doing a data-driven study of search in the sector is like… uh.. trying to count ants. So several months and a few dozen GoToMeetings later, we published Travel 360 — which looking back, is a seriously awesome collection of essays/interviews/transcripts on digital disruption of an established vertical. (A little known fact: it also features beautiful photography, taken not from stock, but by Linkdex’s former product manager.)
It was an honourable endeavour, but unfortunately rather more naive in terms of marketing (oh, I’d found a home in the marketing team by now), in that it hyper-focused on an individual portion of Linkdex’s overall SEO market. We did learn however, that with audacity, teamwork, and a lot of proofreading and outreach, we could produce eBooks, or rather content — with real editorial integrity (I mean that) AND marketing potential.
That led us to SEO Now, which remains my favourite Linkdex content project. On launch, we broke the visitor traffic record for the site, and certainly for what it was — a record of thoughtful, current, discussion with search marketers from brands and agencies — it seemed to be well received.
So amongst the efficacious marketing activity of the team, waterfalls, of events, 1‑pagers, newsletters and emails, I mostly made eBooks, writing sometimes as a ghost, but learning, always learning — particularly from those immediately around — from the best.
You can find Linkdex’s eBooks here.
Practice what you preach…
Whatever you think or hear about Linkdex, I can tell you that as an organisation, we practice what we preach. When we developed momentology in 2014, our “digital publication for consumer-centric marketers”, we knew that all brands are publishers, and we followed in the purest sense.
momentology has evolved, with all the content migrated to the Linkdex domain earlier this year. Make of this what you will, but I had the benefit of seeing the pained decisions, as well as the occasional acknowledgments of genuine appreciation from readers — which makes it all worth it. The team, our contributors, were beyond great, the content was free and original — and it’s still all available online on Inked.
The benefit of working with great people, is that occasionally things really click. Not so long ago, when it was still possible to get search volumes from Adwords, we realised we had everything we needed to assess share of domain performance within a specific vertical.
Later with The United States of Search (unfortunately no longer available online), we looked at whether search data could tell us more about voter behaviour, and coverage bias from online news publications. It was ambitious, but if I had a regret, it’s that I didn’t commit to this one more.
One of the serendipitous consequences of having a full-time office job in the noughty-tens(?) is being able to indulge a music streaming subscription.
In between repeat Daft Punk listening sessions, I’ve managed to retrace/explore, mainly in reverse order, a fair bit of the history of American popular music.
And in as far as music reflects circumstance and life, with a pair of Denon headphones — everything from delta, to Detroit blues, Memphis soul, that Motown sound, oogie woogie disco… right through to hip-hop, the many delicious flavours of house, and post-millenial fusion pop (my way of describing Gaga, Black Eyed Peas, Rihanna) — have been the soundtrack of my Linkdex experiences.
When Mozart and Beethoven were writing (what I can only imagine must have been bangin’ tunes back in the day) music was orderly. It was the sound of equal temperament, enlightenment, reason, arguments by design.
Blues emerged from emancipation, and the need to create something entirely different. The addition of the ‘blue note’ is now a cornerstone of American popular music, and with the accompanying polyrhythmic patterns, it’s there, pretty much in everything.
What’s my point here… In life, or matters of career, not everything turns out like you might think, or have built towards and planned for. But sometimes, what is unexpected, actually sounds better in the end.
“Would you bang another bug?”
Offices. In digital/SEO, it amounts to a lot of time on the internet. Some of the best conversations, and some of the worst: “If you were a bug, but retained all your reason and mental faculties, would you bang another bug?”, “What’s your tertiary superpower?” (something which has no practical benefit)… “Slightly better than average small talk.”, “What if the past belonged to men, and the future belongs to women?”
You make friends, often by pure accident, friends you might not otherwise have made. Maybe you connected over The Walking Dead. Westworld. Friends who look out for you, even though they may not have even realised they were doing it at the time.
For me: this is a farewell blog post of sorts in that shortly, I’ll be leaving the industry and retraining as a history teacher. But that’s neither here nor there…
For the industry? Search is the future. It’s certainly part of it. Let me take my Linkdex hat off and dwell for a moment on what I mean by that:
Whatever your political affiliation, the events of the past year have shown us that digital media ethics is an area that needs discussion, progress, change. Democracy functions on the principle of opposition, and the SEO community is the closest thing we have to functional opposition in search. If Google do not want to take responsibility for the factual integrity of the content that propagates in their ecosystems, who will?
What’s the change that will make the system work?
I’m not sure anyone has the answers yet…
Search has, and will continue to, change the world. So can you.