There’s a rumor going around, The West, lately. Its basic premise is a fear of machines. Not because of privacy or because some fear that we’re in the Matrix situation. But because they’re taking our jobs – they’re automating processes that used to be done manually. They’re doing things faster and better than a person could, and the average Joe can’t keep up. That’s the jist of the rumor anyways. And in some industries, this is a big problem that will probably take a few generations to work itself out. But in this industry, in search, and in local marketing, it seems like machines are creating more work, not less.
Today I’ll be speaking with Darren Shaw, whose career is a great example of this dynamic. Darren grew his business, Whitespark, on the back of machines – or on the tops of machines, maybe? – In any case, he and his team created automated tools to perform tasks that actually give marketers more work to do, by finding places for them to submit more citations. And Darren has a human team as well, whose work competes with other automated tools, and you’ll hear why he chose to keep some operations manual, while making others computer driven.
In addition to his work with Whitespark, Darren also took charge of the local ranking factors survey this year. As I explain in the podcast, this survey is a manual process – it takes the opinions of many dozens of local search experts and distills them in to the best picture we have of a local search algorithm. So the search rank algorithm has been automated, but the survey itself is human generated – again, making human efforts out of machine work.
Darren and I are going to talk about which ranking factors experts believe are a part of an automated process to increase a potential customer’s manual decision making when doing business. See? So much interplay between the manual and automated there. That’s local search – an entire industry of humans that only exists because of automation.
And, as Darren and I will discuss, many agree that the best way to increase local rank these days is via manual, not automated solutions. A few years ago, maybe you could pay someone to automate rank, to place links in a few hundred forums, or on websites no one visits. But increasingly, Google’s algorithms, their machines, are pushing an emphasis toward customer service, quality reviews, and carefully built quality web pages. In that way, the machines aren’t so much taking human jobs, as they’re empowering humans to focus on what we do best – create quality products and create positive experiences for other humans.
Welcome to the Zip.