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Let's get a little more lighthearted this week, shall we? I bet you've been in this situation before: You're with a long-lost friend, relative, or someone you don't know very well. Or it could be your mom or dad, for that matter. They want to know what you do for a living. In our "Discussion of the Week," we want to know what you say in that situation? How do you explain what you do to someone you know is not tech savvy?
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Avatar Moderator
from JulieJoyce 1184 Days ago #
Votes: 0

My mom thinks I run a gambling website and when people ask what I do for a living, she just says that she isn't really sure.

I always say we advertise on websites since we build links. Advertising seems to confuse people enough so usually I get a blank look and then they find someone who does something more concrete.



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from hugoguzman 1184 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I don't explain. I just tell them that I'm a drug dealer and laugh. It's usually good for a nervous chuckle on their end.

If that doesn't work, then I ask them if they've ever used Google. Once they say yes, I explain that I'm responsible for helping sites show up on the results that they get after hitting the search button.

Of course, this only describes a small sliver of what I actually do for a living (in a simplistic way at that) but it's better than getting that glazed-over stare that I usually get when I try explaining the full picture.



Avatar Administrator
from MattMcGee 1184 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I usually just say that I help businesses make money via the Internet, but that sounds a bit seedy so sometimes I have to adjust it depending on the audience. If I'm with a small business owner and have time, I'll try to use them as the example: "You have an insurance company, so you probably want your business to show up when someone goes to Google and types in [cityname] insurance agent, right? I help make that happen."

I've tried to explain this to mom and dad a million times, but they'll never get it, I fear. God bless 'em. They think I run Google. And they're not really sure what Google is. :-)



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from incrediblehelp 1184 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Jaan: "You know when go to Google.com and search for something Mom?  I try and make sure my clients are right there in the top 3."

Mom: "Oh well neat, but how do you do that"

Jaan: "uggh, hard to explain, but I do have a magic wand"



Avatar Moderator
from JulieJoyce 1184 Days ago #
Votes: 0

If anyone kind of has an idea of what I do they always say "oh so you're the one spamming my email." Um, no. I will now, after having heard that, though.




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from SarahCarling 1184 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@hugo be careful with that one, I was out with an SEO friend once when a mutual non-seo friend quietly asked me if he was a drug dealer because "no one could make that much money doing what he said he did" lol!

I have taken to just saying 'marketing', no one really knows what marketing is either, but they tend not to ask. My mum however insists on telling everyone I work in IT because I spend all day at the computer, she was most upset when I pointed out that she's a nurse and spends all day at the computer too so probably knows as much about IT as I do.



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from hugoguzman 1184 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Good point, Sarah!



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from toddmintz 1184 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Something along the lines of "online marketing" or "make money online" depending on who I'm talking to.

Frequently, I ask people if they ever landed on a site that has a ton of ads, no real content, and no seeming purpose for existence?  When they say that they have, I tell them that they just might have landed on one of my sites (and then I ask if they clicked on one of my ads) ... :.)



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from Realicity 1184 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"Internet Marketing".  Then... "We help businesses generate more sales and leads from their website."  Then... "Search Engine Advertising is a big part of online marketing."


That is pretty much it.  This is usually the point they start to look a little board and run out of questions to ask:)



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from nickfb76 1184 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Great topic, As mentioned above "Internet Marketing" has become my go-to answere.  I have tried all sorts of variations and titles and mostly get a puzzled look back in response.  My response also varies on the interest I think the person has.  If they are genuinely interested I will go through a little bit of the intracies in SEO.  If it's just a formality as in meeting someone for the first time its simply "internet marketing".

I actually wrote a post on this topic a little bit back explaining the difficulties of answering the question "what do you do for a living?" for most SEO/PPC/SEM.



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from johnJcurtis 1184 Days ago #
Votes: 3

I say, "I fight robots for a living." If they're confused by this comment, that's a good sign because:


  • It ensures that person is not a robot masquerading as your Uncle Pete. See, a robot would find this comment normal. But a robot could feel threatened by this, so my advice is to maintain a balanced, triple-threat position just in case.
  • It ensures you are not talking to another digital marketing professional. This is equally good news, as you are now allowed to embellish the mundane details of your day-to-day job into an online jousting match/Bond thriller, complete with hacking into Google servers and secret USB drives worth millions of dollars. And the women. Holy hyperlinks, the women!
  • But usually the person changes the subject or walks away before I make it to the part about Error-breathing JavaScript Dragons. Which is a shame, because that part incules the protagonist, me, and my wonderous journey through the SEO Swamp. It's sort of like the Fire Swamp from The Princess Bride, but instead of ROUS's, it's filled with Pages of Unusual Size. And that's a serious problem, because spiders will ignore those. Oh yeah, did I mention there are spiders?



    Avatar Moderator
    from Jill 1184 Days ago #
    Votes: 1

    I mainly have it down to the very simple, "I help businesses get their websites found in Google when someone's looking for the products or services they offer."



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    from DrewBrinck 1183 Days ago #
    Votes: 1

    I typically like to begin the conversation like this: "I'm not a doctor..." That way they have some ground to anchor to. See what I realized is that no one knows anything about Google or how a search engine works. What they do know (thanks to webmd) is what doctors do and how to diagnose medical issues using the internet. After I have established a reference point I take them on a magical (and extremely brief) description of what it is I do. I start with the etch-a-sketch and map out a standard SERP. They typically don't make it past 3 minutes of this page, however should they...I really let them have it. See these things here? (I point at the ads on the side) I make these.


    The response is typically - Those things are so annoying!



    Avatar Administrator
    from dannysullivan 1183 Days ago #
    Votes: 0

    Kind of like Jaan. You know how when you do a Google search, you might want to be at the top of the page. I write about that.



    Avatar Administrator
    from MattMcGee 1183 Days ago #
    Votes: 0

    See, Danny, I haven't even gotten to the point of having enough courage to explain that I actually write about it, too. I can imagine the reactions from mom and others ... There's a website where people write articles about news about search engines??? Hehehehe. Yep.



    Avatar Moderator
    from kerimorgret 1183 Days ago #
    Votes: 0

    My mom just commented on my FB wall today that the only thing harder than us explaining what we do is her trying to explain what it is that her daughter does!

    I usually say internet marketing/search engine marketing/helping people get their sites to come up when you type a search in Google. And then if they have the slightest bit of interest, proceed to bore them with all kinds of details.



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    from SEOEdinburgh 1183 Days ago #
    Votes: 0

    I keep it very simple and say something like "I do stuff on Google"... if I go into detail I usually see their faces glaze over.



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    from bgreen 1183 Days ago #
    Votes: 0

    Internet marketing works really good.  I have given up explaing the benefits of links and what these links really are though.





    Avatar Moderator
    from nickfb76 1183 Days ago #
    Votes: 0

    Danny - your right that "internet marketing" doesn't really do SEO justice, but we're talking about just getting the idea across to non techies.  As I mentioned earlier and others have mentioned as well the level of detail really stems from the "real" interest that the person asking truly has. Normally it's minimal.

    I also echo the pains of my parents attempting to tell others what I do.  Typically they say "IT" or "Computers".  ughhh.



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    from hcooan 1183 Days ago #
    Votes: 0

    I've resorted to just telling people I work with Google and Facebook...they just think I do something cool and move on.



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    from Ryan 1183 Days ago #
    Votes: 0

    I usually just say "i screw around on twitter and facebook all day."



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    from Us4Interactive 1182 Days ago #
    Votes: 0

    First I ask if they are at least aware of Google. If not, you're in for a different challenge and a simple "I do something with the Internet" will feed the first need. If they do know a little bit more about Google, I like to visualize it. I get a piece of paper, draw a line at the top and at the right side and say this is PPC, you pay to show your ad here. If you don't pay you don't show up. Then I point at the square and say this is the SEO part. If you have the right information on your website and developed it the right way, your website will show up here if people look for words that you have on your site. I know this is not 100% acurate but it comes close enough for non-techs to understand the difference.



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    from kimber 1182 Days ago #
    Votes: 0

    "I make websites sexy to search engines."



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    from aidendeman 1182 Days ago #
    Votes: 0

    ha ha ah, love the responses, I usually end up telling them I do internet marketing because if I say anything about SEO and page ranking I get blank stares most of the time and they think I make websites



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    from JadedTLC 1178 Days ago #
    Votes: 0

    I thought my mother knew what I did, but then she told me she was telling everyone I worked for Google.. which is technically true. I work FOR Google, but not AT Google... he he he.



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    from PeterAttia 1178 Days ago #
    Votes: 0

    It's gotten to the point where I give up and say I do internet marketing. If I try to get any deeper than that, they either think I'm a spammer or a scam artist. When someone wants more info about "Internet Marketing" I just say I advertise on websites.



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    from richardalewis 980 Days ago #
    Votes: 0

    Much like Peter I do eventually fall back on just saying I do "Internet Marketing". Most of the time I say "You know when you make a search on Google many different ads pop up.. there are people who want their ads or listings to appear before other companies, I help those people." That has seemed to make sense to everyone.



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