As you may have read in a few of our previous blog posts, we love working from Maplewood, Missouri. It is an incredibly vibrant town with so many fun and quirky events. One such event is the annual, Let Them Eat Art. It is an eclectic street festival that falls around Bastille Day and celebrates local food and local artists. This year in honor of the centennial of a local landmark, Saratoga Lanes, the festival added a twist. They called it Heads Will Bowl.
The event would include a series of five-foot-tall bowling pins, decorated by local creative companies, and put on display around town. The team at Seafoam leaped on the chance to decorate one of the large pins. As we plotted and planned for this giant bowling pin, we fully expected to showcase our creative side. What we didn’t expect was valuable reminders in SEO, digital marketing, and life.
When the pin first arrived at our door we were surprised at the size of the thing. Knowing that the bowling pin is five-foot-tall and seeing it in person is two completely different things. When it arrived we measured the height and width of the pin, to calculate the materials we would need. We opted to decorate the pin in mosaic tile, in a seaside sunset. We thought we would be able to knock this project out in a couple of days, easy peasy.
This is the first lesson the pin reminded us of, many projects don’t go as quickly as planned. We see this all the time in digital marketing. What seems like a little problem with a simple solution can often be a much bigger issue. As digital marketers, we must hope for the best, but leave room for the worst whether it is a bug in the code or a complicated message. Sometimes small projects can turn into really big projects really quickly.
As we sorted, mapped and glued on tile after tile we were really pleased with how the pin was shaping up. The colors, the sheen… all of it started to take form. As we wrapped up the first phase of the project we were really excited with how the pin was going to look and couldn’t wait for the pin to make its debut. Then we remembered that the pin was going on display for the public. Isn’t that the point, you ask? Well, yes. But understanding that people would see the pin and coming to the realization that the pin would be open to the public offered some new challenges.
Had we planned for the elements? There was some discussion about displaying the pins outside. Had we planned for people? We had glued on hundreds and hundreds of mosaic tiles, but what would prevent someone from popping one off as a souvenir? Planning the form of the pin didn’t take into account some of its function. We were going to need some heavy duty grout.
Ironically, this is another lesson that applies to SEO and web development. Often times, planning a beautiful site is only half of the goal. The other half is realizing how people will interact with the site. If you don’t plan for the function, the form won’t matter.
One thing that we preach in our office is that there are no shortcuts to SEO. It is a slow and sometimes tedious process, one for which shortcuts are usually a bad idea. Typically, those who offer quick solutions to your SEO woes are often promising “black hat” options, which can penalize your site in the long run. Slow and steady usually wins the race in SEO and, as we would learn, grout.
When the time came for grout, we read the instructions and mixed it up. They said to spread the grout, let sit for 30 to 45 minutes and then wipe off excess. In an attempt to be efficient, we covered the top half of the pin in the sticky mixture. After five minutes we quickly realized that the grout was rapidly setting and turning into concrete. After 15 minutes we realized we were in over our head and rushed to get off as much grout as we could. After one hour, we called in all of the troops to come help.
After eight hours, and several frantic trips to the hardware store for acid and wire brushes we were able to correct our mistake.At some point during this ordeal, a neighbor popped by to see how we were doing. He had noticed that the grout was hardening far more rapidly than expected and suggested muriatic acid to help unstick the hardening block of concrete. As we chatted he offered this (belated) advice. Sometimes the instructions are wrong. And you should never try to grout too much at a time, lest you get in over your head.
This also belies a parallel with SEO. There are countless blogs,websites, and videos that offer solutions for SEO. Some are legit in their advice while others are a bit shadier. Some are no longer correct given the ever-changing landscape of SEO and some are bad ideas to begin with. In short, sometimes the directions you find online are wrong and can’t replace good old-fashioned experience. When in doubt, it is better to take slow, measured steps toward your goal rather than sprinting off in the wrong direction.
After three weeks, countless tiles, pounds of glue and one crazy 100-degree day of grouting gone wrong, we finished the pin. Looking back, it took all of our combined skills, patience, and teamwork to pull it off. What we gained was not only a pretty cool five-foot-tall bowling pin, but also a reminder that our unique traits made this project a reality. Without the team, the bowling pin would still be a five-foot-tall hunk of concrete. The lesson here is clear. It takes a team to create something amazing.
If you are in the Maplewood area, we invite you to come and check out all of the bowling pins. They will be on display until the beginning of October. Then they will be auctioned off on October 8, 2016. Visit Enjoy Maplewood for more information if you would like to own your very own five-foot-tall bowling pin. If you make it down, snap a picture of your favorite pin and be sure to tag us on social media.