Several years ago (2007) I was asked to give a presentation at Jill Whalen’s High Rankings Seminar in Minneapolis. This was pretty cool because I had been reading Jill’s newsletter for years beforehand. The topic I spoke on was “UnGoogle Your Search Marketing,” where I discussed how to employ blogs, social media and optimized press releases as alternative, yet complimentary sources of web site traffic.
While search is the primary source of web traffic for our sites at TopRank Online Marketing and certainly for our client web sites, I think that now, more than ever, it’s important to “UnGoogle” your search marketing. Before anyone thinks I’m talking about ignoring Google completely, I suggest reading on.
Focusing content creation efforts solely to serve Search Engine Optimization purposes can be limiting. If the the only purpose for creating content is for search engine visibility, the publishing web site may improve search traffic but disappoint when it comes to converting that traffic. SEO alone might not be enough.
Every web designer and copywriter’s nightmare when it comes to SEO is an unattractive, keyword stuffed web page that might do well in search ranking but scares the hello out of anyone who visits. That’s an extreme of course, but my point is that great SEO leverages keyword use and search friendly design recommendations to the benefit of site visitors first or at least as much for people as for SEO. The best content optimization is a great expression of left/right brain thinking.
An alternative to such textbook SEO tactics would be to create connections and distribution channels that have nothing to do with search engines. Create sources of web traffic that are independent of search engines but are executed in a search friendly way.
Fundamentally, that means: Listen to the social web. Learn about customer interests, preferences and needs. Create content to meet those needs. Grow networks in the channels where those customers spend time AND in channels that influence them. Investigate popular and relevant search based keywords as well as social keywords and incorporate them into the content strategy and social networking effort.
Use a combination of real time search and social media monitoring to detect on-demand marketing opportunities and analyze the ebb and flow of keyword focused conversation. As advertising and media placements drive search queries, so do social conversations. While many of those opportunities are fleeting and not practical, some will take hold in the form of a conversation that turns to buzz and search.
In the end, creating content of value and connections with a network that focuses on delivering value to the customers and influencers you’re trying to reach will reap rewards beyond what SEO by itself can achieve. Invest in customer relationships, networks and an optimized content marketing program and you’ll achieve a distinct competitive advantage on the social web at large AND on Google.
[photo credit: Mark Knol]