Are solicitors and barristers scalable?
Whilst the production and publishing of data on website may be scalable due to the technologies involved, the analysis and research to transform web content into useful information is not. Look at the legal profession, are barristers and solicitors in danger from having their practices replaced by these virtual agencies? Of course not, but how do we know that? Legal professionals must undergo years of expensive specific training before being admitted to the bar or to be granted their articles.
To earn the status of being qualified to practise law, much of being a qualified legal professional includes the softer skills of client handling which comes from experience of assisting qualified barristers and solicitors in a “live” environment – i.e. a skill acquired through experience which cannot be taught in a curriculum or theoretical exams.
Some processes can be delegated
The collection of data and the updating of reports are outsource-able or more accurately delegated. These types of tasks are process led and only require instructions that are repeatable and very little judgement.
If that is the case then we have a situation where technology can intervene instead of agency employees because rules in fact can be programmed to automate these tasks without the need for human resource. However that will only create bottle necks for the ultimate professional or consultant even if more of their time is spent doing what it is they are best at – providing judgement. Which comes onto my next point.
People don’t scale
Humans are people. People get bored, they need motivation and inspiration to continue doing what they do at consistent levels, where the quality is high or not. For this reason, people do not scale which is skilled, experience professionals in any field do not scale. To make things worse, people by their very nature are greedy and will take shortcuts which will lead to mistakes and shortcuts being taken.
If people were scalable, there would not be a power law which would create inequalities within an industry. Whilst freely published information on the web might make the practice of SEO more transparent and understandable. The fact is most of the information is untested by the readers (and sometimes the writers!) which results in an overconfident understand of what SEO or law is. Freely published information can also lead to a commoditisation of the profession and thus lower the value of the services related to the subject matter.
The problem is thus not the information being withheld or the inaccuracy of the information published even if it is mostly true. Whilst a level playing field is created between most practitioners of SEO, inequalities exist because of:
- The interpretation of the practices and the elegance of the solutions provided – the judgement of a professional acquired from experience.
- The resources of the client to implement the best practice solutions (bespoke or the generic ones published) – for example a client learning how the link outreach process or the content generation process works and then decides it’s too much work.
Scalable SEO leaves footprints
Any attempt in the past to scale SEO has been met by Google modifying and introducing new algorithms to shut down whatever was working at scale. This has happened Mahalo and other well known documented cases, why because anything in SEO that is done at scale leaves footprints. Work can be done to mitigate the risk of detection and retaliation by the search engines, however the resources dedicated to such solutions are likely to outweigh the costs of doing such against the resources required marketing organically.
Scalability in SEO judgement
Although SEO will never in my view be totally scalable, machine learning of SEO judgements will aid scalability because that is what machine learning does. It learns how an SEO or more importantly how a search engine would rank documents which would again reduce more of the heavy lifting by SEO consultants to deliver their professional judgements to clients. But machine learning can’t replace humans therefore there will always be a need for a qualified professional to sense check the readings from a predictive modelling platform using machine learning before communicating to a client.