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By: John Bonini on January 18th, 2013

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6 Marketing Lessons from Lance Armstrong's Downfall

marketing lessonsOnce again, Oprah Winfrey strong-armed an exclusive interview out of a high profile celebrity that most other news outlets would sell their souls for.

This time, it was Lance Armstrong coming clean about his use of PEDs en route to a record 7 Tour de France titles that delivered Oprah high ratings. A sad day for the sporting world for sure, but believe it or not, like pretty much every other human interest story on the planet, there are lessons to be learned and applied to your marketing strategy.

Obviously, the overall, albeit cheese-ball theme here is "cheating to get ahead will only leave you behind." But in all honesty, there's much more to it in regards to your marketing. There are so many marketing tasks and strategies that focus on achieving success in the short term, that marketers and business owners often overlook the potential drawbacks.

We all want success. And by default, we all want it now. But here are six things to consider before practicing some PEDs – performance enhancing duties – of your own.

If you're interested in learning the honest way of generating traffic and leads, check out our free ebook on "How an Inbound Marketing Agency Does Lead Generation."

6 Marketing Lessons Learned from Armstrong's Fall from Grace

1. Getting Banned by Google for Black-Hat SEO Practices

In the case of Lance Armstrong, think of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency as a marketer would view Google. If you play by the rules, you'll be left alone to succeed on your own.

However, if you try to ahead with shady tactics, they will eventually take action and penalize you, damaging your brand and reputation in the process.

Much like the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Google can either make or break you. Many marketers and business owners practice their own form of cheating, utilizing black-hat SEO tactics in an effort to throw one by Google and rank higher. Black-hat SEO refers to the practice of stuffing keywords in as many places on a page as possible in order to create more opportunities to rank for that specific keyword.

But here's the kicker, Google penalizes for this. While you're busy trying to climb atop the search engines by keyword stuffing, Google will not only prevent this from happening, but also penalize you and push you further down in search results.

2. Short Term Results Can Be Short Lived

Often times, when companies practice black-hat strategies or other shortcuts, short-term results can often be achieved. However, these are the same companies who are sweating it out each time Google updates its algorithm (which as we learned in 2012, can be several times a year.)

So while you may experience a slight increase in traffic due to higher search results, you can bet it will be short lived.

By contrast, the marketers and business owners who build equity with several months of strong, proven SEO tactics will not only find their way atop the search engines, but they often stay there for a very long time.

3. Competitors Doing it Right Prevail

As I eluded to in the previous tip, while your company is busy trying to find all the shortcuts to success, your competitors are busy building equity with proven, white-hat SEO practices that will land that higher in search results for the long term.

The key here is understanding that online success isn't achieved overnight. However, your time and resources are valuable, so you shouldn't settle for waiting a year to see an ROI. By following inbound marketing and SEO best practices, you'll start seeing the wave forming early on, and as your campaign matures, will see it crest into a powerful force that will deliver the the traffic, leads and sales that you need.

4. Follow Google's Guidelines

Like it or not, Google will dictate – to a certain extent – the success you achieve online. It's become the new Yellow Pages, acting as the most used resource for consumer research.

Therefore, you should always be aware of Google's guidelines and algorithm changes. For instance, right now they heavily favor and value consistent, quality content over any keyword practice.

Why? Because they want to provide users with the most helpful, relevant content possible in their search queries.

5. Avoid "Buying" Friends

Yet another shortcut still used by many companies is the act of buying likes, followers, hits, email lists, and leads.

The result? A ton of unqualified prospects that you're now going to try and push into your sales funnel. Solicited marketing at its finest.

The problem is, due to advances in technology and the way we consume content and advertising, it's the unsolicited marketing messages that are seeing the most results. It's for this reason alone that inbound marketing has quickly emerged as the frontrunner for the future of marketing.

While organically developing a following will take more time, you'll actually see more results during this time, as your following will be far more valuable and relevant than if you had simply bought one.

6. Spammy Links Lead Nowhere

If you're looking for yet another way to look like an amateur marketer on the Internet, filling up link directories is the way to go.

Basically, any time you're simply buying space for your links, or even pushing your links in the comment section of every blog you can find, you're effectively using a more outbound approach, which is on its way out as an effective strategy.

Avoid spamming your links in an effort to drive more traffic back to your website. It tarnishes any reputation your brand has, or even prohibits you from developing a good one moving forward.

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About John Bonini

As the Marketing Director of IMPACT from 2013-May 2015, John lead the IMPACT marketing team. He also wrote for the HubSpot Blog, Social Media Examiner, and Convince & Convert among others. In his free time, John enjoys playing guitar, high-fives, and anything with marinara sauce.

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