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.
Are you lost in your head regarding SEO, Penguins, Searching Plus ‘Your World,’ contradictory suggestions, etc? It’s cool. I sympathize with business owners. I must bushwhack my way through a series of digital pages per day on germane topics. It can be mazelike; the further you’re in, the increasingly perplexing it becomes.
Such is the reason to stop reading similar, somewhat differing, completely contrasting, completely off the charts, and other kinds of suggestions related to what YOU need to do with your online marketing endeavors.
Please stop the ongoing reading. It’s going to get more confusing. This is why you need to place a call:
Marketers Market You Regarding Marketing
Let me do some deconstructing of the situation of online marketing. Basically, you’re running a business and need to draw attention to your goods/services. Great, I understand.
In order to do so, you must seek the help of yet another BUSINESS, just like yours. People that want to sell you on your need. They have a need too! Online marketers need to perpetuate a business too. In this scenario, YOU are to THEM as your customers are to you. Savvy?
How are we getting you to take interest in online marketing? We’re discussing online strategies…in a general fashion…because we need to…otherwise it would be a ‘case study.’
So, I can understand how many can be confused, asking, “Well, how does this help me specifically?” It most likely cannot! The information is not specific TO YOU!
How does it become specific? You make a call and have a conversation. That way, you can ask specific questions, which pertain to your immediate business predicament!
Would I give the same suggestions to a five-year brand offering business consulting and a photography startup? Maybe on a very general level; aside from that, most likely not! How could I? They’re totally different entities! I need more information about their immediate situation, short-term, and long-term goals!
I read all this general fluff about Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter…and the like. Yes THEY ARE ALL AVAILABLE TOOLS. Should you invest resources into them? IT DEPENDS. I can’t provide a definitive, real-to-life answer through a post addressing a broad base of business owners. No one can.
Do you really want to know what YOU can do with Pinterest? You must discuss your respective situation with a consultant who is familiar with the marketing tool. Otherwise, information is highly generalized. It’s akin to someone suggesting me to ‘talk to girls’ to get a date. Um…that’s it? Or is there more to it?
People don’t like committing right away. Most marketers understand. That’s why many will initially speak with you for FREE! Why would you not take advantage? Take what they have to offer. Make these online marketing entities ‘work’ for your increased interest and potential account. Get ‘real’ information about YOUR particular situation.
It’s great when I read how this marketer did this and another writer did that. Would it work for me in my situation right now? That’s what I ask. You should be making progress too. Marketing is only going to become more robust and complicated for the read-only owners. Stop reading and make a call; make several calls. Get a better idea of online marketing by aligning the generalizations with your specific brand and juncture.
Thank you for reading.
How much time do you have today to think about online marketing strategies? I think about it all day. It’s my passion and career. I’ll assume there are a lot of similar souls out there who are passionate about engaging their respective fields. I bet it warrants a lot of attention. My daily duties do. Would I have time to breach the threshold of another vertical while addressing online marketing? It’s not very likely; or, I wouldn’t be able to cover much ground that way.
I endeavor at keeping a healthy body. I know some tidbits about anatomy, health, diet, etc; yet, there are limitations to my knowledge. I defer to specialists when needed. Last year, I was feeling exceptionally sluggish and didn’t know why. I tried to modify behavior and get to the heart of the matter myself but was unsuccessful; I pinpointed the lethargy to a deficiency in iron thanks to blood tests and my doctor. Otherwise, I would’ve been growing more desperate and confused about my health. I sought help instead.
You see where I’m going with this (I hope.) Online marketing specialists look after the health of your online business. It’s our pledge just as doctors pledge to look after the health of patients.
I think you can begin to see my point above. I’m not saying I couldn’t have been a doctor (Does that involve math? I hope not.) I’m not saying you can’t be a great online marketer. But I’m not a doctor; if you’re not a marketer, I prescribe your deference to those who spend a lot of time and energy in the field. I don’t wear a stethoscope; but, I know how to check the pulse of your online business. I know how to check to see if your online initiatives are working well, providing healthy revenue streams.
Approaching an online consultant is not an absolute necessity; but, just as I visit the doctor, gaining insight into my health, wouldn’t you want to treat your business well too? Isn’t your business ‘your temple’?
Online marketers don’t completely understand Google. I’m not sure Google would prefer complete transparency. However, consultants do closely work with best practices and Google updates. Just like doctors, we can’t completely know or predict the future; but, we can use our knowledge to facilitate the health of your online business.
Google has an idea of how it would like its search engine to work. As marketers, we spend time understanding Google and how tweaks influence and change SERs. Unfortunately, some modifications make sites ‘sick,’ causing them to drop in rank (and subsequently lose money and exposure). The sickness is usually self-inflicted whether Web masters knew they were ‘messing’ with potentially hazardous initiatives or not.
If your site is sick, then you need help. You could try to revive your online property alone; yet, you may make things worse, becoming more frustrated like I was regarding my lethargy last year.
Headstrong or Web Savvy?
I can be a stubborn person. I admit that. I often have to be wary of when my stubbornness backs opportunities in a corner. Are you doing such with your online business? Have you recently been affected by Panda and Penguin updates? Don’t spin wheels blindly searching or exhausting intuition, attempting to ‘get better.’
When I need my car fixed I go to a mechanic. When I don’t feel well I go to a doctor. If I want to learn skiing I search for someone who spent a lot of time on the slopes. When you want to improve your online marketing performance you need to seek professional consultants.
No one will force me to go to the mechanic, doctor, or ski instructor. I could attempt to address my needs alone though seriously lacking in understanding of those topics. You could attempt to address your search engine health alone; but, do you have the time, passion, and level of understanding equal to an online marketing consultant? Don’t allow more time to pass; your business’ ‘condition’ could get worse. Additionally, a lack of understanding of what’s causing ‘the sickness’ is a potential time bomb.
WebiMax recently launched PenguinWatch.com – a consultancy site, dedicated to helping Web masters understand the Google Penguin update as well as gain a better hold on search engine best practices and strategy. Please take a look at the site and don’t hesitate to seek assistance regarding a number of initiatives. Most importantly, don’t dismiss the importance of asking questions. Do you have questions? We would like to help improve your understanding. The first move is yours.