After years of putting ourselves out there, we’re finally getting the response and interaction we’ve been looking for. This year started out with a bang. Over twenty queries for interviews, guest blogging and a few podcasts, including Google+. And truth be told, I’m scrambling for things to write. I don’t want to become a silent blogger but if this continues I may have to pull the plug. So I can’t complain and I’m not complaining, since it’s one of the best ways to tap into what the readers and market want to know. Call it self promotion or grand standing, but if you don’t have time to ask your readers what they want, nor do the research necessary, then at the very least, be willing to use your network to get your ass out there in order to get some answers.
Where am I going with all of this? The quick answer is self-promotion is the best way to network. I’m not talking about memes and selfies – sure, those are fun, but when you allow your brand the opportunity to listen, and truly open your eyes/ears/content/video’s to engaging, is when you find what readers want to know about. Therefore, one of the best ways to grab people attention is by being helpful and answer their questions. So I’m taking the opportunity to expand on some of those questions I’ve been asked in the last few months. Below, you’ll find a compilation of a few interviews where I didn’t say enough, or didn’t have the time to expand on some of my answers.
My favorite question is “why invest in SEO?” Fair enough. Yes, it’s a good question… I always try to have a smart come back and it was no different for this interview. There are so many ways to answer this, but for this article, I decided to answer it in a way that even my mother (God rest her soul) could understand.
Why invest in SEO?
That’s like asking why invest in gas for your car? Let’s make this perfectly clear. I’m not selling black magic or a secret potion – just stating facts. SEO is an ongoing process that needs to be part of your online marketing efforts, period. Consider that four out of five businesses are looking to localize their results. Basically they want to be found by “local” zip code, city, within their immediate geographic area.
Remember people are searching differently now and if you’re not in the top 5- 10 search results then you’d better have another way of getting lead generation. Second thing that comes to mind is that if your businesses isn’t global and you’re looking for local queries – basically if you’re a plumber or a car mechanic, you really don’t care that someone is Germany has a drain problem, or needs their BMW worked on. Think locally in order to grow… that means citations, meet-ups, Instagram, Yelp, etc.
Inevitably, the question of money/ budget always creeps into these questionnaires, because people still don’t get the value of what we do.
How can people promote their website if they don’t have the budget to hire outside help?
The quick answer is, don’t look or waste agencies help if you don’t have the time or the budget to do a good job. The average cost for a small website is five thousand to eleven thousand dollars. It’s a fair estimate, considering everything that goes into creating an online presence. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. The nice answer is, “maybe you should rethink the way you’re promoting and what you think is valuable about your message”. The professional answer would be, I would ask what does “promote” mean to that freelancer or solopreneur? Do they have a step-by-step plan of what they want to accomplish? You can always ask the same basic questions of any online business.
Think like a journalist:
- Who are you, what’s your “brand”?
- What’s your product?
- Where can people find you?
- Why should they find you?
- How are you going to help them?
From there, you can break things down to what you’re willing to commit to. As a small company, you only have so much time and money to promote your business. I get that. The most basic thing to keep in mind is that search engines are your friends when used correctly. Ultimately, when you use your content, videos and white papers, they will do the talking for you. In other words, put your money where your mouth is.
The second thing I would focus on is a strong marketing plan that’s measurable. It’s really the best way to grow your business and tweak when necessary solution (if you know what you’re doing). Understand how to optimize content that your readers want to read – maybe a blog, a newsletter, a series of white papers or even a podcast. But within all of that process, make sure you set up the measuring aspect. What’s the use of creating valuable content if no one is reading it? Better yet, how can you grow your brand if you’re not listening and measuring what’s working for you? These are not easy answers and they take time. I don’t care who you are, analysis of anything takes time.
Another thing most people forget to include is a smart social media plan. When smoothly integrated with your SEO, you’ll see progress towards your goals. You see that all of these adjustments and insights will fall into place, once you answer those questions.
Inevitably, I always get questions like: what would you recommend using if you are a beginner. I wish I could bottle it and sell it. But nothing we do is cookie cutter, so I march on and respond to the best of my ability, while keeping the snark to a minimum.
What beginner resources do you recommend?
Oh dear, now you’re’ asking for the holy grail… let’s begin with an easy one: blogging. It’s one of the easiest forms of promoting one’s message. It’s in your control and you can upload as many times as you’d like and can keep up with the daily grind of responding to comments. Yet, it’s not something to be taken lightly. It needs time to grow, and time to promote. But yes, it’s a great simple resource for start-ups and marketers. At Level343, we address a variety of topics that help our users online. Start using RSS feeds and find an hour a day to catch up with how technology and different marketing techniques are being used successfully. If you’re looking for link building, for example, we have a wonderful article that lists sixteen great link-building resources. If you want to learn more about social media, there are people like Brian Solis, Heidi Cohen and Shelly Kramer, just to name a few, who are always sharing great advice about being social.
An odd question is always thrown in the mix… it came from that particular bloggers readership, you see, who’da thunk people actually gave a rat’s ass about Yahoo in search? Apparently his readers did…
What’s the future of SEO look like to you?
SEO is, and will continue to be, in a constant state of change. SEO is a matter of survival. Maybe the discipline of optimizing has become less Wild West and more refined. Consumers are smarter and use technology to make their lives easier. Regardless of whether they’re focused on using mobile or the Internet, syntax or language. Furthermore, communication will always be prevalent for search and informational queries. Need I say more?