Remember the huge amount of “SEO is Dead” posts we’ve seen through the years? I’ve been in the online marketing business for years, and can’t count the number of times these types of posts hit the Internet. Pretty much any time the Google Dance starts up again, yeah? Makes you have to put your poker face on.
At the end of the day, though, SEO isn’t dead; the only way search engine optimization will die is if the search engines die first. What it HAS done, however, is change. A lot. It’s grown, as any industry does, and I’ve even heard it now falls under the umbrella of “online marketing”.
It’s No Longer About Optimization; It’s About Optimization
Along with the “SEO is dead” are a whole bunch of articles about how SEO is no longer about keywords, or meta data, or links or, or, or. I even read one that said it’s not about the content (what what?). As I’ve said before in numerous posts, it should never have been about those things. It should be about those things in the context of the user’s experience.
Look, people. This isn’t rocket science. It’s marketing.
- Key words are there and important because they are what the user is looking for. That’s why they’re key.
- Links are important because they are helpful to the user.
- Meta data is important because it tells the searcher that this page has what they’re looking for.
Optimization, in its truest sense, is there to make sure that the content on this page, or in this section, or on this site, or provided by the social networks pointing here…. that all of that stays congruent. Because, darn it, we’re flighty people, and we can get off on tangents that have nothing to do with the topic at hand. I feel a rant coming on…
In short, optimization isn’t about gaming the system. It’s about working with the system to provide the best information out there. In other words, quality.
As online marketing, optimization and search engines continue to grow, look for opportunities to make your site more useful. This does not mean to look for more opportunities to connect with non-qualified users over terms that have nothing to do with your site just because those terms might bring in more traffic, who won’t buy in the first place because they aren’t the target market, so you just blew time and money on useless endeavors chasing after numbers that don’t mean anything… (Deep breath)
Okay. With that in mind, how can you capitalize on the various sections of growth? If SEO isn’t all there is, what all IS there?
1. Google isn’t the only traffic source.
Yes, Google is an important source of traffic, but if you think it’s the end-all, be-all of marketing, check your traffic sources. Google SEO and PPC isn’t enough anymore. Let’s look at some of the inbound marketing outlets you should be utilizing in 2016:
- Video marketing is on the rise, with customer testimonials, tutorials and demonstrations being the most effective.
- Infographics are shared and liked three times more than any other visual material. Plus, they add something more interesting than a block of text, yeah?
- Social network usage continues to grow. However, many CMOs are reporting only a minor difference in customer retention performance. The largest reason for poor performance is the lack of customer tracking over purchasing, communication and social media platforms. So, while you should definitely look at social marketing campaigns, it’s equally important to make sure you have a plan in place to keep track of your customers across the platforms.
- Pinterest How-To images are growing in interest as well. If you have a product and its usage can be done in step-by-step pictures, diagrams are an excellent way of gaining notoriety and traffic. For example, any one of these cooking diagrams would be perfect on Pinterest, and a good topic for any company that has food related products/services.
- Email marketing is an often forgotten source of positive traffic for customer retention, additional traffic and better sales. It’s a reminder, right there in their personal space, that your company and product still exist. The statistics for email marketing are still phenomenal, even after all this time.
2. Begin with the end in mind.
It’s easy to get caught up in creating the best online marketing campaign. You can get lost in the brain storming phase. Here’s this puzzle of what ways you can reach your audience, and you can sometimes forget that, really, it’s about the end result – not about how you get there.
Have your end goals in mind before you even begin building your marketing campaign. Depending on the age of the site, we often require a benchmarking audit before helping clients build their campaigns. Otherwise, we could end up changing something that’s working or targeting the wrong area.
Find out what you are, first. Figure out where you want to be, second. THEN figure out how you’re going to get there.
3. Keep the customer relations friendly.
I’ve seen before where business owners start thinking of the transaction the same way one might a hostile takeover. The business – customer relationship shouldn’t be hostile, however.
Selling isn’t so much a takeover as it is mutually beneficial synergy. Your company wants to make money. The client or customer knows this. It isn’t a secret, people. What is a secret, and what they don’t know, is what you’re willing to do to make that money; not knowing the answer to that question is what makes people wary of buying a product.
Make your actions transparent. Share your shipping and handling policy upfront. Prominently place your refund policy. Put your contact information where it’s easily seen, especially on a sales page.
In other words, let them know that they can reach out to you, and that you have policies in place to protect them should there be an issue with their purchase.
4. Create fat content.
As Panda and other updates have shown, Google is against thin content. If you’re writing just for search engines, because you think that’s what they want, you’re doing it wrong. It will show in your content, and your content will be next to useless.
There are so many ways to create content in 2016. Infographics, videos, slide presentations, eBooks, blog posts, whitepapers, emails… phew! That’s just the ones off the top of my head. There is absolutely no reason for you to have thin content on your site anymore.
Put your site on a steady diet of tasty, thought-provoking, interesting, funny, controversial content. Do a content audit to make sure you fill the holes in your topics first, then create an editorial calendar to help you get the job done. Don’t neglect this part of your online marketing campaign just because you’re doing well for the moment. You will slide, and you’ll slide fast!
As with any advice given in general, there’s a caveat to any of the above. That caveat is, “if it’s beneficial to your specific niche”. Don’t ever look at advice in a blog and just take it at face value, as the writer doesn’t know your site’s specific circumstances.
For example, if your target market isn’t on Facebook, it doesn’t do you any good to target the social network – even if half the world is on it. If you have sell services instead of products, it may be hard to provide a “how-to” diagram for Pinterest. If you have a product that you only sell once (as hard as it is for me to picture that), customer retention may not be something you should focus on.
However, do take the time to compare what you’re reading with where you are in your online marketing campaign. Ask yourself, “have I looked at this from the standpoint of my company?” If you haven’t, it’s time you did.
And if you don’t know how, or you don’t know where to start, call in the professionals.