Are you tired of hearing of Google pets? I am too. There are some SEO lessons to learn due to Penguin. I’m sure you’ve seen a resource or two so far. However, in this post, I would like to review some business insights to take away from the pet’s recent visit.
Google is not a Given
Google is a business just like yours. Google has an idea of how it would like to offer its search engine service. Sure, Google makes most of its money from advertising; so, it wants you to use its search engine; however, nothing is ‘given’ regarding Google, just as nothing is given regarding other forms of marketing. The search engine is a platform your business can use to intrigue consumers. Your brand must make the marketing channel ‘work’ just like other methods. The Google search engine is not a revolutionary marketing exception; don’t think of it as such.
You Can’t Compensate for Quality
I say this a lot. I hope some are reading and heeding the words. You can’t compensate (EVER) for a lack of quality. You could facilitate more exposure without providing quality; but, such an endeavor seems wasteful in itself. Additionally, consumers have choices. Just because your service/product ranks well, doesn’t secure an eventual purchase or ongoing appreciation. You can’t compensate for quality no matter how you organize your online marketing campaign.
Don’t Chase Trends
It’s likely many affected webmasters did not directly have bad intentions; alternatively, many could have been chasing the ‘trend’ of achieving great rank. Don’t chase trends; organize online marketing endeavors utilizing tools and initiatives which make sense.
Recently, we’ve seen information related to GM, America’s third-largest advertiser. GM no longer uses Facebook for paid advertising. Additionally, GM does not plan to invest in the upcoming Super Bowl advertising fiesta. (To date, advertisers will be expected to invest over $3 million for 30 seconds! Wow!) GM is a perfect example of crafting marketing against brand intentions and markets, regardless of the most ‘popular’ social networks and sense of ‘tradition.’
Listen to Customers, Not SEOs
Every marketing campaign needs to devote unwavering attention to target markets. You know your target market; SEOs do not. SEOs know online marketing tools and platforms. Marketing aligns targets with your brand. SEOs can help from a third-party perspective; but, SEOs can’t do YOUR JOB for you. In theory, such sentiments create potential for a bad relationship. SEOs want to help; but, they can’t compensate for your lack of target-market understanding or quality of service/product.
I, for one, celebrate the recent updates. It ushers a returned sentiment of ‘marketing.’ SEO is a tangent of marketing. Marketing relies on understanding people. When did so many get led astray from the ‘people’ aspect of marketing? SEO is not automated marketing; if you think it is, you need more than my words and a Penguin.
All’s fair in online marketing until zoo animals hurt someone… just a little online humor to open with. Actually, all is not equal online. There are too many factors to consider. Dr. Pete made a good point earlier in a great ‘catchall’ online marketing post:
“Search is algorithmic, so we assume it follows the same rules for everyone. In theory, it usually does, but those rules are incredibly complex and situational.”
Another post, catching my eye lately is GM’s decision to part advertising ways with Facebook. Wait! Isn’t Facebook like ‘the best social media site’ to use for your business? I’m sure you could find a post or two supporting the claim. Yet, GM, America’s third-largest advertiser, doesn’t want to advertise with the Facebook? You mean there are exceptions to online marketing!? Whoa, watch your speed driving that SEO train, business owners.
‘SEO’ is Marketing
I don’t want to get heavily into defining or redefining SEO; some people don’t like that (more inside SEO humor). Rather, for the purposes of business people, I’ll make it simplified. SEO is a method of marketing. Marketing is a method of drawing attention (to what’s offered).
Many peoples’ notions of ‘SEO’ are becoming more like traditional marketing, especially in the wake of stringent rules ushered by cute Pandas and Penguins. Basically, ‘SEO’ is/was ‘search engine’ optimization, meaning live pages were ‘optimized’ so search engines could read them well; so, if I wrote a page focused on copywriting, a search engine, like Google, would understand the main focus of the article. There are technical things I could do to the page to facilitate the engine’s understanding.
At some point, people went crazy, commercially abusing the engines…Then the Web blew up; the social and content aspect of the engines got more attention, leaving those outside of ‘SEO’ even more intrigued regarding its marketing capabilities. And yet…these days, I think more business owners are realizing the more successful SEO campaigns are light on technical aspects (because ‘over doing it’ can get you penalized) and heavy on marketing sentiments, you know, those notions of intriguing markets to products/services.
GM – FB = WTF?
In the intro, I mention GM’s subtraction of FB paid advertising. What gives? I see it two ways; either Facebook didn’t make sense for GM (That could be well understood; not every ad platform is going to work for everyone.) or GM’s marketing team couldn’t make sense of digital marketing. Are there any marketers out there who would like the opportunity to invest GM’s $10 million if given the chance? I bet there would be some takers.
My point is that marketing is not black and white. As Dr. Pete mentions in regard to SEO, there are a lot of factors to consider, making it highly difficult to produce ‘objectified’ results. This means I could devise an online strategy for BMW and GM, which looks similar; but, due to the shades of differences regarding BMW, GM, and respective target markets, the endeavors could go very differently.
Let’s say BMW’s campaign goes well; but, I can’t say the same for GM. Was I ‘off’ as a marketer? Yes and no. No in that maybe I find a good strategy (for BMW). Yet, yes, I was off regarding the notion of not finding an ‘X factor’ of GM’s campaign, in finding the differentiation which would make GM’s campaign drive well.
Engage in practices that make sense for your brand; take the time to learn and execute well. There is no grand solution; only solutions for single brands. Let’s consider a real-life example. Jason Acidre is an incredible link builder and marketer. Link building helps pages achieve better rankings; yet, how did Jason achieve online traction thus far? Was it by online ‘rank’? Taken from Jason’s guestpost:
“I didn’t get clients because of search rankings. I got them through my blog posts.”
Yellow Money Light, Green Consumer Light
Jason found a way to intrigue his target market (which could differentiate considerably from the link-building suggestions relayed to his clients). I’m urging you to slow down, business owners, in regard to your approach to online marketing and SEO. I believe the notion of a ‘flourishing business’ is causing some brands to make hasty online decisions, believing SEO is a dismissal of or circumvention of traditional marketing. It’s not. It’s another method of marketing. That goes for all the SEO-related initiatives too such as link building, social media participation, content orchestration, and so on.
Watch your speed. Slow down when it comes to the initial investment; but, accelerate internal notions of marketing toward your target market. It’s ALL ABOUT THE CONSUMER end to end. There are no exceptions to that rule. In theory, the product/service does all the heavy lifting. The marketing is a matter of introducing the service/product to the market. All the marketing in the world can’t put a magic spin on a wanting service or product, ask any consumer about that.
Of course, the Penguin update is a hot topic at the moment. Google, the most widely-leveraged search engine, made some modifications, which influenced a number of Web masters. What’s done is done. It’s not the first time Google has done it; and, it won’t be the last.
Should it chill your reception of online marketing? I can see how it can for a party of people who view online marketing as an unknown mystery that can deliver results if you type in the right codes. It’s not quite like that. SEO, online marketing, SEM, and other derivations of “marketing” vary in degrees but all pursue the same end…intriguing and converting consumers…as it has always been.
Back to Basics
A while ago now, Gianluca Fiorelli wrote a post, urging us to ‘wake up.’ I’ve referenced the post before; it’s a great learning resource for novices; it explains the major components of online marketing and justifies them. Gianluca urges us to focus on the technical, content, and social aspects of online marketing. Let’s further explain for our purposes here:
Gianluca is referencing a site’s meta information, HTML, backend design, etc – all the technical aspects. He wants to ensure your site is appropriately ‘communicating’ with the search engines, which host its information and pages. This is a job for your coders, IT guys, designers, and other professionals who understand the ‘language’ of computers.
The technical ensures the engines understand and properly read your pages. Consumers use engines; so, make sure your pages are properly indexed. Here is another good post on technical SEO by Dave Sottimano.
Let’s continue by discussing a beloved topic of content. Online…success (whatever that means to your brand) is king. That’s why you pursued online marketing in the first place – to make your brand successful. Content (written posts, audio files, info-graphics, videos, cartoon strips, etc) needs to be composed and released entirely with the target market in mind.
Who should know your market the best? You should. Why else would you be offering goods/services to it? You’ll find tons of great information on how to generate great content online. Collect tidbits here and there you can use to help organize and share your own content. However, understand you can’t recreate the success of another brand by emulating their tactics; you must heed practices then create something unique to your brand.
Jonathan Morrow wrote a content-focused piece on Copyblogger recently. It’s written in a humorous but highly pragmatic style. The post gets down to the essence of writing sales copy and writing for your consumer.
There was a time when a consumer leveraged the phone book or some kind of directory to locate a service or product need. There would be a broad heading, like electricians, with a number of service providers listed after. Aside from some copy cues, there was really no way for the brands to differentiate themselves, to express personality. Nowadays, brands can freely engage markets and express personality through social media channels.
Remember why so many brands were obsessed with the Web in the beginning? They knew it was a new marketing channel, a way to get peoples’ attentions. Brands quickly started chasing rankings, thinking consumers bought from providers listed on the top of SERs. It’s still a sound decision to get on the first page; yet, it’s not a necessity. Get your market’s attention through social media; that’s what you wanted in the first place, right? You wanted to get consumers’ attentions.
Engaging in social media is highly subjective too, just like constructing copy. I can give you suggestions; but, you can’t be me and I can’t be your brand.
However, a brand can use resources to devise its own methodical and strategic way of addressing social media initiatives. I often read the BlueGlass blog for tips on peer, social, and public relations. The social aspect of online marketing is very akin to traditional PR, except now, brands are not just being social with the press; brands are being social with just about anyone involved with them.
The technical/content/social approach to online marketing is a sound paradigm at present. There are six-million ways to try your marketing initiatives. Ideally, arrange your online marketing around your target market rather than Penguins and Googles. I couldn’t of said it better myself:
Be dependent on your target market’s interest rather than movements of zoo animals and their ‘keepers’
(Looks around) Psst. Hey you, come here. I have a secret. I’m not always ‘working.’ Well, better defined, I’m not always doing what I’m paid to do. You see, I’m not being disobedient or having a Peter Gibbons moment. I love my job. I’m just not always doing it. (Gets up, stretches, does some pushups, takes a sip of coffee, then looks out the window.)
Here are a few things I’m doing when I should be working.
(Puts down US Weekly) I don’t believe ‘reading’ is in my job description; yet, I do a whole bunch of it throughout the day. I’ve taken it upon myself to become completely immersed in my particular vertical. In my vertical of online marketing, many bloggers and associated sites exist. My eyes ravenously encounter a litany of lines during business hours. Shh – don’t tell my bosses I’m becoming more proficient in my respective area of concentration!
Well, maybe it’s not so roguish. A little while ago, one of our strategists of SEO, Chris Countey, sent me an email. It was to commend me on my ability to engage the community and vertical. He asked how ‘we’ can replicate such behavior for our clients.
I told him it’s sort of difficult to make suggestions without knowing particular clients’ verticals and goals. Actually, I caught one of Todd Bailey’s suggestions in a recent CNBC Google Penguin post:
“Businesses need to get rid of the philosophy that they need to get as many links and as much content out as there as they can,” Bailey said. “They need to look at a public relations strategy and try to produce quality content by pitching news outlets, doing press releases and guest blogging.
Wait. Todd’s thinks a PR strategy is a sound marketing decision. Well, that’s not in my job description either; yet, I think I’ve found something else to do when I should be working.
Actually, I read a great post on using social media for prospecting and building relations recently.
I used to engage in PR activities; now, I’m technically a copywriter; yet, I might as well summons what I’ve learned while I’m not working. There are a number of social sites like Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. Personally, I’ve cultivated an affinity for Twitter. I can cover a lot of people and information that way. It works for me in my particular situation.
I know I suggest otherwise in yesterday’s social media post; but, I’m a rebel, remember? Actually, I share a lot of other peoples’ stuff. As a result, I think people who want to learn more and be exposed to different information appreciate my shares and passion for knowledge.
As a peer mentioned yesterday, I’m an ‘outstanding Twitter citizen.’ That means a lot, to me and to the brand; because being a diligent and considerate socialite helps us make more connections and get more solidly ingrained in our respective space. Shh – Don’t tell my bosses I’m building rapports within our vertical!
If you’ve seen a guest post or two by me, it’s because I cared about building relationships in my respective vertical. It’s beneficial.
I’m not sure if thinking is listed on my job description verbatim; but, I’ll assume it’s indirectly implied; though in my younger years, I’ve heard, “You’re not paid to think” a time or two. Why would my bosses want me thinking when I could be working? Hmm.. I recently read a good post by Jon Morrow at Copyblogger (Do you want to learn how to write better copy for the Web, and just period? Read Copyblogger.) Jon’s post speaks of sleeping while making money. I haven’t tried sleeping while working yet…but, I’ll leave that to Jon for now.
In his description of learning ‘how to sell,’ Jon suggests listening to salespeople, or those who know the product/service. I’m ingrained in the online marketing world. I’m a worker bee. I know the service. As Jon suggests, brand messages should reflect that of those who know the product/service; because, those souls better understand how a service/product addresses a client need. Moreover, being on the internal squad, I’m marketing a marketing company; so, I also have suggestions on how to market ‘our’ company too. Shh – don’t tell my bosses I’m always thinking of ways to improve things for us and clients.
Those I report to encourage any ideas or thoughts of mine, which I believe could improve the internal and client process. There’s no quota or specific time of suggestion. I relate ideas and processes when such inspiration strikes.
As you can read, this was another tongue-in-cheek post. I want to get you thinking, and doing PR, and reading too; but, only if it makes sense regarding your vertical and personal contribution. I’ll assume you have a ‘job description’; but, does that mean you have to confine your workday to such? Yes, of course- attend to what’s expected; but, don’t be ‘shh’ shy about doing more professionally for you and your brand.
Warning: the following post contains sarcasm and irony. Please proceed in the appropriate fashion…
Yesterday was Mother’s Day. Most of us did as expected: we bought flowers, called people, and spent time in places we may not have ideally wanted to be. I understand. You did as expected. Where’s the creativity in that! Oh, where’s the irony?
It’s okay! The discomfort is over; now, you can use those karma points from yesterday and compensate today by neglecting people online as normal. Some of you don’t know how!? Wow! I can show you! I spend a lot of time online…observing…sometimes, I even help people! I know. Let’s get back to the neglect! I know online marketing is a notion, which brings people closer to desired products/services; yet, stop listening to all the ‘experts,’ and keep neglecting people. The irony of it all is so genius and entertaining to observe!
Let’s better understand how to neglect people, shall we?
‘They rock in the treetop all day long..’ I ‘rock’ Twitter on ‘the regular.’ A lot of people do. One-way tweeting is an oft-observed tactic. Good job, social media partakers; you’re getting it! Rather than engage people on Twitter, make them feel and look stupid by neglecting to respond to them. It’s not like they are giving you an opportunity to better brand yourself and your associated companies. They’re probably just losers who need attention. Who needs them?!
Rather than be a helpful hooter, be a neglectful robin; don’t respond to followers, you know the people who thought enough of you to follow and ask you a question? People aren’t equal; never forget that. If you’re better than them, they don’t deserve your Twitter attention.
When I’m not perusing Twitter neglect, I read blogs. It’s a great way to learn; sometimes I foolishly use what I learn to help others with their questions; but, I digress… Sometimes, I’ll read a blog…entirely…I know; it’s crazy I would respect the author enough to finish their post…LOL! On occasion I’ll see someone like Dan Shure diligently address peoples’ questions and comments; yet, Dan knows how to treat people well; this is about neglect; let’s forget him.
Alternatively, I’ll see people asking questions (sometimes really good ones!) in a post’s comment section; and, it goes completely unanswered or seemingly unobserved by the author. That’s how you express appreciation for their read; you completely shun their accolades, presence on your post, and questions! Awesome display of online marketing skills! And I was worried people needed me to write how-to’s; many people already have this ‘people thing’ figured!
Why answer their question? You might turn out to look like a thought leader. You may gain a steady follower. You may gain someone’s respect. You even may gain a consumer or an advocate of your brand. Show me where I ever said those are good things!
Do you know what’s sillier than giving a brand the appropriate recognition for a shared piece of content? Making the author of the content feel appreciated and recognized! Why would you give the author ‘a shout’ in your hyperlink or share? It’s not like they deserve any credit! Some people are a bit nice and attribute a link or share to the brand rather than the author. We see it all the time with newspaper articles. Why credit an unknown author when your link or share can say ‘New York Times’? Some people won’t even credit a source in entirety? Nice job of neglect!
Let’s consider what would happen if we accredited an author. They might take a gander at the source of a link. They may share your content because you took the time to diligently share their content and credit them. You may make a ‘connection’ with them through your career. They may help you in some way, shape, or form. Why the heck would you bother with them? Forget them. Neglect them. That’s how I want to see you do online marketing! Keep up the great respect of neglect!
Don’t be pennywise and dollar foolish, business owners. Do you see the forest through the trees? Do you see the three-dimensional image emerging from the ostensible abstract graphic? The dynamic has always existed; yet, I believe brands of ago understood the value in providing “value.” It was expected (as should be). Then, an emergence of business began…
In The Beginning
I get a lot of my work ethic from older generations. My grandfather, though working a white-collar job, had to work very hard. All his peers did. It was expected. Why else would American people, coming out of the Great Depression, give their hard-earned money away? They wouldn’t. Quality and value was respected and expected.
Things Got Better (But for Whom?)
Things turned around for the economy; free enterprise emerged in a number of verticals. Innovation was up as well as the spending of Americans. The hunger of businesses also skyrocketed. More businesses existed in a number of verticals. The principle of ‘competition’ threatened revenue streams and existences of businesses.
What do you do when you can’t compete with a better competitor? Let’s not get into ethics; but, let’s face it. There are those who will do ‘anything’ to make a buck and sustain their ‘business.’
It took some years for us get comfy with the Web; but, today its popularity is undeniable. The line to the Web looked like the one inspired by Sylvester McMonkey McBean in Seuss Sneetches tale. Many licked their chops, salivating at the chance to make ‘mo money’ online.
This was great for consumers too (in part); it was convenient and made for a more robust shopping experience. However, the greed previously spawned before the dawn of the Web was fed by the new wave.
“All these dollar signs (I mean consumers) are on the Web now. How can I get them to buy my stuff? Oh wait, this search engine optimization thingy can get me ranked first for my services and products?! DAAAAAAAAAMN - bingo!”
Many in the industry rag on ethically-questionable SEOs. They are undoubtedly a problem; but, they’re really just hired guns, inspired by their own greed; but, shoddy SEO revenue is fueled by the greed of questionable brands who want to make money (and, yeah, maybe create some value; but, “If we can get the money without worrying about the value, that’s better, right?”)
So, business owners, at present, you have access to a range of SEOs who run the ethics gamut as you yourselves fall somewhere in the spectrum between scumbag and value creator.
Is it frustrating for the business owners who want to provide value? I’m very sure it is. Is it frustrating for upstanding SEOs who want to help in aligning value with target markets? I guarantee it.
We are in an age of transparency. I’m not trying to coin a new term; I know how some take to such notions; but, I digress. With each passing day, I celebrate the present evolution of online marketing; I’m happy for ethical SEOs and for consumers; because, there’s increasingly less room for the unethical to hide. The unethical SEOs are blaringly obvious to those in the industry; but, they’re not a threat to us in the industry; they just disrespect and smear our industry. They are not so readily seen by clients; yet, some clients are just as scummy as those rogue SEOs.
I have bad news for questionable practices and people. You’re going to fail…eventually. Like the time after the Great Depression, we are in the wake of the Great Recession. People care about how they spend their money, insisting on getting value (as it should be).
Those who need to hide will; yet, those who don’t won’t. Why the heck would they? They can be as transparent, footloose, and fancy-free as they want. They CAN DO what all their online marketing and SEO insinuates… Others can’t yet use SEO and online marketing as a means to a scumbag end.
So the cycle will play over. Those who can’t compete will try; but, it’s not going to be so easy anymore. I’m sorry for you (for a number of reasons).
Pro quo means “this for that” in Latin. It’s not rocket surgery (it was intended for a laugh.) People want something in exchange for their hard-earned money, something of value. You’re not deserved of their money because you have a business. You earn their money through respecting your brand, its operations, its employees, and yourself as a business owner. Otherwise, you’re just not getting it (people’s business too –that was a pun) and neither will your brand…in due time. Savvy yet? Don’t worry; I have more ink in my pen.
Consumers, peers, and service providers are a lot smarter than some questionable parties lead themselves to believe. I know companies are in business to make money; but, why would you think you’re entitled to sidestep the genuine business road? Make it your business (yeah, it’s a pun again) to create for the consumer. There is an inescapable dynamic involving creating value and creating a successful business. It takes hard work and dedication. There’s no alternative. Live it or leave business aspirations behind. People understood the dynamic generations ago? Are we degenerating? Some are. Others are finishing the ideals our forefathers/mothers started.