Successful online marketing strategies always start when the user’s best interest is put first.
Let’s take it easy this week with a quick review of what’s important to focus on, and why it’s important to stay focused on impressing your customer. We’ll start out with a quick review of top things to invest time in and wrap up with some broader thinking around understanding, and catering to your customer.
1. The basics of SEO need covering -well written headings, depth of content, relevant linking to related content/topics, images, etc. But these days, most of this is so well-known, and so easily adjusted, it just shouldn’t take much time to account for. For some it’ll be more work, and for others less, but the fact remains that this work needs doing, and will return results on a somewhat limited basis on its own.
Lately, I have been hearing and reading the phrase “SEO is dead.” Incorporating human ranking in the Hummingbird update was vital to Google’s advancement in the search engine tech arena and was just one of the many great strides they have taken to keep their position as the leading search company. The truth is SEO, for the most part, is dead. Techniques that once worked are ineffective at best and dangerous at worst. The definition of “White Hat” SEO is providing good, solid, user-useful, user-friendly content with properly written metadata. Plain and simple, that’s SEO these days. The key is being able to provide it to any industry.
2. Social Media – You can’t escape this – you’ve got to have a voice these days. More followers than following on Twitter, solid engagement on Facebook helps, etc. There are no hard and fast rules with social – it’s about engaging in conversations with people, and by doing so, you position your business as a go-to resource, which then they tell friends about, they build links to, and the engines take notice off all that activity.
3. Content – The #1 place to invest time/money/effort is in creating content people want. People don’t wake up on Saturday AM and say “I think I’ll go type words into a search engine and see what happens”. No, they say, “I just bought a new car, where should I road trip?”, or “I need a new dishwasher, which is the best value and most efficient?” Build content that solves a searcher’s needs. Start with keyword research to understand what phrases people search on most, check your own analytics to understand what pages on your site they consume the most and get cracking on fill in the blanks.
4. Usability – If I am choosing where to invest budget (time/money) – SEO, PPC, paid social, it’d be right here. Do usability studies, learn what works and doesn’t work on the site, then fix the problems and run with the winners. This is by far the best investment of time and money for most websites today.
The old saying “more than the sum of its parts” has never been more applicable than in the world of online businesses. SEO helps, content helps, social media helps, links help, images help, videos help, paid ads help and so on. But individually, as so many businesses approach things, the results can often be limited.
Have you ever ran a paid search campaign that you just thought should have done better? You really need to try optimizing an organic listing to be near the top spot alongside that campaign to see what difference that makes.
Have you ever run a social campaign and marveled at how few retweets, shares and likes it got? Try engaging your community with messages about and for them, then randomly, every now and then, include a call to action for them to come to you. You’ll see a difference.
Every time you sit down and think “I have N and want people to X.” you’ve already lost the game. When you start thinking “People clearly want N, and I can deliver X…wait, I need to deliver N.” you’re on the right path. Think from your customer’s POV and you’ll move in the right direction. Your customers want what THEY want, and if you happen to have that, it’s a match. If you try to make them take what you have, they’ll look elsewhere.