Lee Odden

Should You UnGoogle Your Online Marketing?

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, SEO, Social Media

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]

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Also this might help you to bring more targeted traffic. Most important in the conversation is to show that you know more than other ones and you can always give some valuable advice. Or at least be unique with your language 🙂

  2. Great post Lee. I think sometimes we get tunnel vision and only do things the way we have been told and to only focus on pleasing the search engines. Like you said, it is important to focus on giving the visitor an experience that they enjoy and want to share with others. Since the search engines are getting smarter and smarter with each algo update it's now time for us to work on experiences and creating a social value.

    • The thing is, the better the user experience, the more likely they'll share and link to content. Those are important signals in the SEO world. Great SEO should work in tandem with great user experience.

  3. Avatar RM_InBoundMarketingPR says

    Agree with you 100% Lee.. You are missing a huge piece of the puzzle if you think it's only about SEO and search engines… You have to connect all the pieces and most importantly be patient, which most of us lack. If you have connected all the pieces and are using the right analytics to listen to what your customers are saying and giving them what they want you should see results in about 4 to 6 months…

    I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts.. Very valuable content, always!

    • Glad you like the post. I think if effective listening and networking is in place to grow a community that will share and link to your content, it can take a lot less than 4-6 months depending on the market and competition. 🙂

  4. This is great. I agree with you. While SEO is great for getting people to a site, if it's not supplemented by person to person interactions, and reciprocal conversation, it means nothing.

  5. happy to sharing.I think it is necessary.online marking can promote the business develop and let us buy more things we can not buy nearby

  6. Avatar incrediblehelp says

    Great post. As it is now to many sites are Google top-heavy and with that they have inherent risk relying on Google traffic to much.

    • Thanks Jaan. The main point of the post is that by emphasizing what's best for the site visitor and alternative traffic sources, not only does the web site owner distribute risk but in the end, will also improve visibility on Google.

  7. Avatar Herbert Verweij says

    What might help as well is that you let your visitors participate on your site (user generated content). If you initiate the discussion, lead the tribe, Google will notice that people hang out on your site, create a conversation and share.

    • I agree with you, Herbert. The more participatory you can make your site, the more interest you can generate, which will definitely help. Thanks for the reminder to keep our eyes on everything else out there than just Google, Lee!

  8. Solid discussion. The question here is really one of memory vs. consciousness. Permanent rankings vs. real-time search/social.

  9. Quite an interesting and thought provoking post. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Avatar rduermyer says

    Great points. It's all part of a good diversification strategy of not putting all of your eggs in one basket. The other part of it is, these steps usually serve to boost your organic SEO efforts anyway, so why not reach out for eyeballs from other sources? Besides, laser focusing your efforts on Google doesn't seem to work as well as it once did.

    • Companies that want to get the most out of their SEO efforts have indeed been more creative and holistic. Many of these kinds of SEO programs deliver value in terms of lowering costs like customer service and recruiting that they don't realize is associated with content optimization. Making it part of an intentional effort creates even more value and accountability.

  11. Avatar STLonlineDESIGN says

    Google has been so helpful to developers! Google’s strategy of empowering site developers and owners with free and valuable tools has proven to be effective in garnering a fair bit of geek love for the company. But this affinity to Google by technology enthusiasts is not without warrant—they really do make excellent products that can be instrumental in building, maintaining, and improving websites. What’s more, they’re all usually free. Here's more on this – http://www.stlonlinedesign.com/top-15-google-pr

  12. Have been shifting away from Google SEO for a couple years now… it's just not worth it when there's so many other long term sources of traffic


  13. I actually find that social media competes almost equally with my Google traffic. That’s because I use every social network outlet available.

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  15. thank you Lee! For years I was caught up in the seo google game where I would stuff my pages with keywords. I believe in unattracted my potential clients once they visited my earlier sites and confused them. The conversion rate was horrible for me a couple years ago. Once I started writing to my hearts content, whatever was on my mind, and not adding keyword after keyword phrase I enjoyed writing and added a lot more content. I only add keywords in the titles now and I won't try to stuff the articles with keywords especially just to get more internal links.
    I have also enjoyed doing more you tube marketing and have been involved with Tubemogul to help submit the same video to multiple video sites. I enjoy interviewing people and putting their interviews online to help drive traffic to my own site. I use the expert advice of many others to help drive traffic to my own site. I will also add relevant content from those interviews all over the web. It makes my job easier.