Authenticity, Uncategorized

Phonebook SEO: Being First vs Being You

It was 12:34 pm. We were stopped behind a large truck, sitting at a red light. Unable to see anything but the monolithic back-end of the semi, I stared at the letters to occupy the 30 seconds until we could drive again.

AAA Cooper Transportation

Along with the words was their abbreviation as a logo. ACT. Which made me ask out loud “So the A stands for… AAA?”

By wanting an abbreviation as a logo, they forced a new purpose on their name that served a completely different purpose: to come first alphabetically. It’s like having the wrong tool for the job.


Who wouldn’t want to come first of this tome of telephone numbers?

Not long ago, companies altered their names to be first in the phone book. Today we use SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to show up at the top of the list when people are searching for answers. People used to be the search engine and the phone book was the database. It’s not alphabetical anymore, it is based on keywords, links, and more.


Life is hard at the top. There are many players vying for the coveted first page. In fact, Googling “how to be on the first page of google” yields 158,000 results. That’s just for learning how to do it!

Luckily, it’s not about being first anymore.

“It doesn’t bother us that we are second, third, fourth or fifth if we still have the best. We don’t feel embarrassed because it took us longer to get it right.” – Tim Cook

Apple’s Tim Cook raises the point that he’d rather be the best than the first. And it works because of how Cook ties it to their company’s mission. It is authentically Apple. “Our North Star is making the best products that really enrich people’s lives…”

So if everyone is optimizing for search engines, who is optimizing for the customer?

Who is optimizing for authentic connections?

Who is optimizing for the long game?

Lee Clow tweeted, or rather, Lee Clow’s beard tweeted “Ads need two things: a reason to pay attention and a reason to be glad attention was paid.” SEO helps people pay attention to you. Like a carnival barker it draws people in. And they’re willing to pay the price of admission and walk through the entrance to the red and white striped tent. Now that they’re here, all you have to figure out is one thing.

How will you make them glad?


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