I am a Coronation Street addict. I’m out and I’m proud.
Like many growing up in a household in the North West of England, and a Mancunian one at that, ‘Corrie’ was and still is something of an institution. It’s a time in the week when you hear that trumpet spring into action for the intro and family members race from every corner of the house to get around the box.
Drama, suspense and plenty of comedic moments, the soap that’s been on our screens since 1960 has the lot. And whilst watching another instalment the other night, it dawned on me that there are a few things that Coronation Street has in common with the SEO industry.
Different ‘storylines’ taking place
A three-way tug of war over the paternity of a new-born baby, a land-lady’s murderous husband trying to contain his guilt and Roy Cropper having a mental breakdown. In just one half an hour episode, Corrie’s writers manage to balance plots like these together and still have enough room for an ad break and a two minute segment featuring dear old Emily Bishop lamenting the lack of volunteers down at her local charity shop.
Similarly, people working in the SEO industry have to juggle many different factors in order for one project to run smoothly and effectively. An SEO executive must think about high quality content, natural link building, social media, networking and much more besides.
Not that they ever entice me (I’m a one-soap man), but Coronation Street’s rivals often try and out-do each other by promoting overly dramatic storylines in order to get the highest viewing figures. So recently, when Corrie went to town with the Rovers burning down, Eastenders responded with their storyline of a teenage girl having an alcohol addiction.
Despite the industry still being relatively young, there are many SEO agencies out there trying to push themselves to the top of the pack. That’s why each firm has to constantly think of new ways to be innovative and to ensure that they offering the very best service to their clients.
You constantly have to keep up to date
In our household, we call Wednesday night instalments of Corrie “filler episodes.” What we mean by this is that, essentially, not a great deal happens, but its 30 minutes that is integral for the double episodes on a Monday and a Friday to develop and make sense. So if you go out on a Wednesday evening and forget to record Corrie at half seven, you’ll tune in on Friday and you’ll be wondering why Rita Sullivan is back behind the counter of The Kabin flogging newspapers and half a pound of cinder toffee when she was in a coma in Weatherfield General on Monday (disclaimer: not an actual storyline, this is not a future spoiler).
It’s the reason why many people love working in it, but the SEO industry is for ever changing and evolving. “What? Google changed its algorithm again? That’ll explain our drop in rankings.” Yep, you can’t afford to take your eye off the ball for a moment in this game. If you don’t keep on top of the latest news and latest innovations in SEO you will soon be performing practises that are ineffective and out of date.
You can get kicked in the teeth
No, I don’t mean Owen Armstrong will come round your house in a check shirt and assault you in his slightly laborious gung-ho style. But Corrie does have a habit of messing about with your favourite characters just when all should be well. Remember the uproar that locking up Deidre Barlow caused? And who’d have thought Tyrone ‘wouldn’t hurt a fly’ Dobbs would get wrongfully sent down for domestic violence? These twists and turns have you on the edge of your seat and shouting at your television in equal measure.
In SEO, it is quite often Google that is dishing out the punishment. Even if you’ve prepared comprehensively for their latest update, you can still find yourself hit with a penalty for the slightest misdemeanour. Sometimes Google will roll out an update without any initial warning! Either way penalties are all very frustrating and annoyances that SEOers would rather do without having to contend with.
You’re at the mercy of a higher authority
“Right I’m just sitting down to watch Corrie. Oh, wait. What’s this? Why is there a football match on when I should be seeing cobbled streets?” Ok that’s a bad example because, as a big football fan, I would already know when a match was on and would welcome it. However, the point is valid. If ITV decides to broadcast a sporting event, a special edition of another programme or there is a special news bulletin due to a significant event, Coronation Street and the rest of the normal schedule is thrown up in the air and you’re routine is ruined. You’re then left to trawl through the TV listings to see when it is next on.
And what ITV is to Coronation Street fans is what Google is to people in the SEO industry. As the world’s biggest search engine, it’s kind of difficult to not dance to Google’s tune. What they say quite often has to go. So if they want SEOers to start doing something new or an established practise differently, then SEOers are wise to start doing it.
The past now looks so dated
Deidre’s perm. Bet Lynch’s beehive. Kevin Webster’s off-purple bomber jacket which, despite all common decency, still hasn’t been condemned to the archives. If you ever see snippets of old Corrie episodes or pictures, it is alarming just how old fashioned some of the hairstyles and clothes now look.
Archaic practises such as keyword stuffing, link farming and hiding content also seem old fashioned and are now venomously shunned in SEO. However, tactics like these were commonplace once upon a time. Thankfully, Google has got wise to these tricks over the years and now these once savvy methods now look as old as Les Battersby after a heavy evening on the town.
Coming out on top is all important
Each year, Corrie goes head to head with their rivals at both the British Soap Awards and the National TV Awards for one coveted accolade; Best Soap. Of course, you’ll see the losing cast applauding the winning soap as it is announced with smiles that look so false that they look like they’re being held in place by Pritt Stick. Winning that award is what the cast and writers of all the soaps strive for and don’t let any “it’s not about the awards to us” sound bite tell you otherwise.
Ultimately, online brands want to appear as high up Google’s results pages as possible. And all of the fantastic content that is produced, the intricate link strategies that are devised and relationships that are built on social media sites by SEOers all lead to that main goal of climbing the Google ranking ladder of fulfilment.
Wide array of forums
Although the idea of forums is a bit ‘1999’ to some, they are still a vital online medium for fans and enthusiasts of many different interests. And that includes Coronation Street, which has a plethora of forums that are home to an army of online Corrie pundits and commentators. So whether you want to let it all out about how much you want to land one good punch on Rob Connor’s face or ask hard-hitting questions such as “how come Peter Barlow goes into Roy’s Rolls for a cup of tea when his flat is directly opposite,” you are spoilt for choice.
In SEO there is a thriving community of online commentators and if you want a question answering or want to discuss findings, you also similarly have a wide range of sites to choose from. Traditional forums, as well as comments sections underneath popular blogs make for enlightening reading. The great thing about the SEO industry is it is very open and transparent and you will rarely find anyone that is unwilling to discuss ideas and share insights.
Richard Hillman reaped his reign of terror for two years. Lewis Archer took his time to get his revenge on Gail Platt. Whilst we naturally have to wait up to nine months for anyone that is pregnant on the Street to eventually give birth (although Tina McIntyre’s recent surrogacy plot seemed to go on for much longer such was its tedium). Any plot will take a while to develop before reaching its conclusion.
SEO isn’t a quick fix, either. Black-hat tactics will boost your site’s ranking quickly before Google finds you out and shows no mercy by penalising your site and probably killing any chance it has of ranking again in the future. Therefore organic search is the only viable option, and that takes time. However, producing great content and setting natural long-term SEO objectives will eventually bear fruit.
Coronation Street has had some captivating characters over the years. My personal favourites include the aforementioned Richard Hillman, Fred Elliot ‘I say Elliot’ and Jim ‘so it is’ McDonald. All of these legendary characters have kept audiences entertained for years and have helped to make the soap so successful.
Matt Cutts. Rand Fishkin. These names will be recognisable to anyone working in SEO. Who hasn’t been excited about which coloured polo shirt Cutts is going to where in his next webmaster video? Who hasn’t been entertained by Fishkin’s unrelenting enthusiasm in his Whiteboard Friday videos? These guys, and many more besides, are liked and respected by a large amount of SEOers and they often make tough, complex content just that little bit more bearable and easier to understand.