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A Little Irish Wisdom for Your Local SEO

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A Little Irish Wisdom for Your Local SEO

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to the Moz community! We’re always looking for new ways to set our readers and customers up for success, and today, we’re going to take a look at the inspiring tale of how a whole nation has built a path to real human progress for its people, with takeaways that can be applied to your own business and community.

A first century well spent

Irish 100

Last year, the Republic of Ireland turned 100, and according to author Dan Henry, the Irish have accomplished all of the following in their first century:

  • Living longer and easier — death rates have been halved due to vaccinations for major diseases of the 20th century.

  • Eating and being healthier — there is a strong focus on local foods, eating more plant-based foods, and Irish residents are entitled to health care.

  • Creating better lives for women and children — the maternal death rate in Ireland in 2019 was zero, and all Irish children are entitled not only to health care, but to an educational system that has resulted in 58% of young people achieving higher education, compared to an EU average of 45%, and just 37% in the US.

  • Earning more and helping more — today’s Irish earn five times as much as their grandparents did, and they have been named the most generous people in the world in terms of national and international charitable giving.

  • Being happier — 96% of the Irish are satisfied with their lives.

Multinationals are well aware of Irish opportunity

Irish Wind Turbine

Foreign investors know all about the Irish success story, and firms like IDA consider Ireland one of the best bets on the planet for their clients because:

  • Ireland has the youngest population in Europe and one of the most educated workforces in the world. Its National Skills and Strategy Action Plan has the goal of making Ireland’s educational system the best in the EU in the next five years.

  • Pro-climate government policy is making Ireland a hub of the green economy, with its wind and solar production already being the second-best in Europe, and its financial commitments to research and development making it an attractive environment for business growth compared to nations shackled to the dead-end fossil fuel industry.

  • Nine out of the top 10 multinational tech companies have set up offices in Ireland, as have all of the top five global software brands. At Moz, we’re very proud of our own Irish team.

But my own interest in understanding the success of Ireland goes deeper than the profit margins of big business. It goes right to the heart of how the Irish people are embracing national and local economics.

The wisdom of Mother Éire

Irish Harp

I’m a US citizen, but as is the case for many of my 31.5 million Irish-American cousins, Éire remains Mother, and I keep in regular contact with her via media. I’ve noticed that you cannot open an Irish newspaper or watch Irish television today without encountering a national mindset bent on uplifting the whole people to a sustainable future in which everyone thrives.

A single RTÉ program, Nationwide, perfectly encapsulates a country that is determined to eat locally, buy everyday goods from its own nearby producers, celebrate the arts, and restore its damaged environment. Meanwhile, listening to Irish talk radio makes it clear that nearly everyone in the country, from schoolchildren to elders, is notably community-minded and in search of a good, green future for all. The educated opinions of the callers are interspersed with ads for EVs and Irish-made goods. From gorgeous greenways for pedestrians and cyclists, to redeveloping wildflower meadows for pollinators, to amazing grants, fairs, and basic income for the country’s beloved artists and artisans, Ireland is doing the considerable work of creating a society rich in hope and happiness. As a local SEO who is deeply tied to the principles of localism, I can tell you that such talk makes me giddy with the possibilities of a fine life for everybody.

And it has made me wonder if there is anything in Irish culture that predisposes the people, as a whole, towards that magic ingredient many say is essential to all successful movements: sharing a vision. I think there may be clues that all of us can learn from, and apply to our own community-building work of local SEO, in some very old sayings with which many Irish people are familiar from their formative years.

Seanfhocal: 10 Irish proverbs for doing good local SEO

Irish Proverb

Seanfhocal is Irish for “old word”, and these time-honored sayings may come in handy in helping your business or clients contribute to re-building our communities into places of peace and plenty for all.

1. No matter how many rooms you have in your house, you’re only able to sleep in one bed

Instead of basing a society on greed and hoarding, localism recognizes that we all have the same basic, inherent needs and rights.

2. It’s not a delay to stop and sharpen the scythe

Take every opportunity you can to become educated about your community’s needs and about how to communicate via today’s media; what you learn will serve both you and everyone around you. And fair play to you for already being here, studying SEO, so that you can become an effective communicator of solutions to local needs!

3. You’ll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind

Once you’ve put in the study, be bold and start doing! Take action to get the word out about the local businesses you’re marketing because you’ve as much right to success as anyone else. Your efforts won’t be perfect, but you can learn from every mistake. Speaking of which…

4. An old broom knows the dirty corners best

Wisdom comes from learned experience. SEO is an experimental environment and your openness to ongoing testing will serve you well. Already have years of learning under your belt of how to market local brands? Consider joining a Buy Local association to help share your knowledge with new brooms.

5. Don’t fear an ill wind if your haystacks are tied down

Our industry can seem like one in which everyone lives in fear of the next Google update, but time has shown that those who put in the work to implement good, human-centric practices tend to come out fine, time and again.

6. While a person is out, their food goes cold

You’ve got to keep at it in local SEO. Neglected local business listings end up with wrong information on them. Neglected reviews create a slow leak of reputation and revenue. Neglected websites get hacked. Make local search marketing part of your daily activities for the long haul and use tools and software to create a manageable workflow for all this maintenance.

7. An empty sack does not stand

Don’t base a local SEO campaign on fake listings and fake reviews. You can’t build lasting success on shortcuts.

8. A lamb’s bleat is often more telling than a dog’s bark

Perfect for social media and marketing, in general — a humble and helpful approach to communication will go a lot farther in most industries than self-serving braggadocio. Run a local business that shares, supports, contributes, aids, and stands in solidarity with its community.

9. Anyone can lose their hat in a fairy wind

Some things are beyond our control. Throughout the pandemic, local business owners have learned to do the best they can, all things considered. Few situations are ideal, and a reality-based optimism is a balanced approach to both running a business and running a life.

10. However long the day, the evening will come

Bad times don’t last forever, my friends. Take this as encouragement to persist in your efforts, to keep learning from others, and loving your life. I know — it isn’t easy — but don’t let anything steal your best visions for how good things could be.

While we can’t all live in Ireland (more’s the pity!), and though we’re all dwelling in different countries and circumstances, there’s much to be learned from Éire’s ancient sagacity as well as the Republic’s young and experimental first hundred years. If we find takeaways in what the Irish have been working so hard to achieve and apply them wherever we happen to be, many can benefit. Wishing you a future of shared health, common prosperity, and a bit of good luck on this special day!


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Why Even Crushing Content Failures Aren’t Mistakes

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Why Even Crushing Content Failures Aren’t Mistakes

Did you follow the Apple iPad Pro content debacle?

Here’s a quick recap. A recent online ad for the new iPad Pro showed a large hydraulic press slowly crushing various symbols of creativity. A metronome, a piano, a record player, a video game, paints, books, and other creative tools splinter and smash as the Sonny and Cher song All I Ever Need Is You plays.

The ad’s title? “Crush!”

The point of the commercial — I think — is to show that Apple managed to smush (that’s the technical term) all this heretofore analog creativity into its new, very thin iPad Pro.  

To say the ad received bad reviews is underselling the response. Judgment was swift and unrelenting. The creative world freaked out.

On X, actor Hugh Grant shared Tim Cook’s post featuring the ad and added this comment: “The destruction of the human experience. Courtesy of Silicon Valley.”

When fellow actor Justine Bateman shared the Tim Cook post, she simply wrote, “Truly, what is wrong with you?” Other critiques ranged from tone-challenged to wasteful to many worse things.

Actor Justine Bateman shared Tim Cook’s post on X, which featured the ad, and added this comment: "Truly, what is wrong with you?".

A couple of days later, Apple apologized and canceled plans to air the ad on television.

How not-so-great content ideas come to life

The level of anger surprises me. Look, the ad does show the eyeballs on an emoji-faced squishy ball popping under the plates’ pressure, but still. Calling the ad “actually psychotic” might be a skosh over the top.

Yes, the ad missed the mark. And the company’s subsequent decision to apologize makes sense.

But anyone who’s participated in creating a content misfire knows this truth: Mistakes look much more obvious in hindsight.

On paper, I bet this concept sounded great. The brainstorming meeting probably started with something like this: “We want to show how the iPad Pro metaphorically contains this huge mass of creative tools in a thin and cool package.”

Maybe someone suggested representing that exact thing with CGI (maybe a colorful tornado rising from the screen). Then someone else suggested showing the actual physical objects getting condensed would be more powerful.

Here’s my imagined version of the conversation that might have happened after someone pointed out the popular internet meme of things getting crushed in a hydraulic press.

“People love that!”

“If we add buckets of paint, it will be super colorful and cool.”

“It’ll be a cooler version of that LG ad that ran in 2008.”

“Exactly!”

“It’ll be just like that ad where a bus driver kidnaps and subsequently crushes all the cute little Pokémon characters in a bus!” (Believe it or not, that was actually a thing.)

The resulting commercial suffers from the perfect creative storm: A not-great (copycat) idea at the absolutely wrong time.

None of us know what constraints Apple’s creative team worked under. How much time did they have to come up with a concept? Did they have time to test it with audiences? Maybe crushing physical objects fit into the budget better than CGI. All these factors affect the creative process and options (even at a giant company like Apple).

That’s not an excuse — it’s just reality.

Content failure or content mistake?

Many ad campaigns provoke a “What the hell were they thinking?” response (think Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner ad or those cringy brand tributes that follow celebrity deaths).

Does that mean they’re failures? Or are they mistakes? And what’s the difference?

As I wrote after Peloton’s holiday ad debacle (remember that?), people learn to fear mistakes early on. Most of us hear cautionary messages almost from day one.

Some are necessary and helpful (“Don’t stick a knife in a live toaster” or “Look both ways before you cross the street.”) Some aren’t (“Make that essay perfect” or “Don’t miss that goal.”)

As a result, many people grow up afraid to take risks — and that hampers creativity. The problem arises from conflating failure and mistakes. It helps to know the difference.

I moved to Los Angeles in 1987 to become a rock ‘n’ roll musician. I failed. But it wasn’t a mistake. I wasn’t wrong to try. My attempt just didn’t work.

Labeling a failed attempt a “mistake” feeds the fears that keep people from attempting anything creative.

The conflation of failure and mistakes happens all too often in creative marketing. Sure, people create content pieces (and let’s not forget that there are always people behind those ideas) that genuinely count as mistakes.

They also create content that simply fails.

Don’t let extreme reactions make you fear failures

Here’s the thing about failed content. You can do all the work to research your audience and take the time to develop and polish your ideas — and the content still might fail. The story, the platform, or the format might not resonate, or the audience simply might not care for it. That doesn’t mean it’s a mistake.

Was the Apple ad a mistake? Maybe, but I don’t think so.

Was it a failure? The vitriolic response indicates yes.

Still, the commercial generated an impressive amount of awareness (53 million views of the Tim Cook post on X, per Variety.) And, despite the apology, the company hasn’t taken the ad down from its YouTube page where it’s earned more than 1 million views.

The fictional Captain Jean Luc Picard once said, “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not weakness. That is life.” The Apple ad turns that statement on its head — Apple made many mistakes and still won a tremendous amount of attention.

I’m not suggesting that people shouldn’t criticize creative work. Constructive critiques help us learn from our own and others’ failures. You can even have a good laugh about content fails.

Just acknowledge, as the Roman philosopher Cicero once wrote, “Not every mistake is a foolish one.” 

Creative teams take risks. They try things outside their comfort zone. Sometimes they fail (sometimes spectacularly).

But don’t let others’ expressions of anger over failures inhibit your willingness to try creative things.

Wouldn’t you love to get the whole world talking about the content you create? To get there, you have to risk that level of failure.

And taking that risk isn’t a mistake.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week. 

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute 



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The Future of Content Success Is Social

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The Future of Content Success Is Social

Here’s a challenge: search “SEO RFP” on Google. Click on the results, and tell me how similar they are.

We did the same thing every other SEO does: We asked, “What words are thematically relevant?” Which themes have my competitors missed?” How can I put them in?” AND “How can I do everything just slightly better than they can?”

Then they do the same, and it becomes a cycle of beating mediocre content with slightly less mediocre content.

When I looked at our high-ranking content, I felt uncomfortable. Yes, it ranked, but it wasn’t overly helpful compared to everything else that ranked.

Ranking isn’t the job to be done; it is just a proxy.

Why would a high-ranking keyword make me feel uncomfortable? Isn’t that the whole freaking job to be done? Not for me. The job to be done is to help educate people, and ranking is a byproduct of doing that well.

I looked at our own content, and I put myself in the seat of a searcher, not an SEO; I looked at the top four rankings and decided that our content felt easy, almost ChatGPT-ish. It was predictable, it was repeatable, and it lacked hot takes and spicy punches.

So, I removed 80% of the content and replaced it with the 38 questions I would ask if I was hiring an SEO. I’m a 25-year SME, and I know what I would be looking for in these turbulent times. I wanted to write the questions that didn’t exist on anything ranking in the top ten. This was a risk, why? Because, semantically, I was going against what Google was likely expecting to see on this topic. This is when Mike King told me about information gain. Google will give you a boost in ranking signals if you bring it new info. Maybe breaking out of the sea of sameness + some social signals could be a key factor in improving rankings on top of doing the traditional SEO work.

What’s worth more?

Ten visits to my SEO RFP post from people to my content via a private procurement WhatsApp group or LinkedIn group?

One hundred people to the same content from search?

I had to make a call, and I was willing to lose rankings (that were getting low traffic but highly valued traffic) to write something that when people read it, they thought enough about it to share it in emails, groups, etc.

SME as the unlock to standout content?

I literally just asked myself, “Wil, what would you ask yourself if you were hiring an SEO company? Then I riffed for 6—8 hours and had tons of chats with ChatGPT. I was asking ChatGPT to get me thinking differently. Things like, “what would create the most value?” I never constrained myself to “what is the search volume,” I started with the riffs.

If I was going to lose my rankings, I had to socially promote it so people knew it existed. That was an unlock, too, if you go this route. It’s work, you are now going to rely on spikes from social, so having a reason to update it and put it back in social is very important.

Most of my “followers” aren’t looking for SEO services as they are digital marketers themselves. So I didn’t expect this post to take off HUGLEY, but given the content, I was shocked at how well it did and how much engagement it got from real actual people.

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

Writing a book is a gargantuan task, and reaching the finish line is a feat equal to summiting a mountain.

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