Woody Allen once said that 80% of success in life is all about showing up, and he was right. Marketing in the year 2015 is not far from this. Showing up when consumers Google-search your products and services; when they speak about you on social media or when you receive a comment or review, is what you need to do.
Show up brings loads of money. Just ponder over the following statistics:
- 80% of consumers search for products or services prior to purchase.
- 70% go through reviews prior to making a purchase decision.
- 68% start decision-making as they search for keywords.
- 55% more traffic, as well as 80%-plus more leads, go to sites that blog regularly compared to those that do not.
- 70%-plus search-clicks are organic.
Do you really need to be bombarded with more statistics to appreciate the importance of showing up and how it can reap you big bucks? No, I am sure you are already aware!
Google, review blogs, social media, other Web places, are all we turn to when making almost all 2015 life decisions — purchase decisions included. It is the reality.
Despite the myriad of opportunities offered by these tools, several brands still miss out by failing to show up. They leave cash on the table at the very focal-point of decision-making, at a time when the intent to buy is at the peak.
For a quick test: Google some generic non-brand name keywords best describing your product. If consumers cannot find you, then you do not exist. If you do not talk to them, then you are irrelevant. If your content is not awesome, then you are boring.
With up to 80% of consumers known to search for products and services prior to buying, invisibility is a much worse fate than failure.
Your sales are still going South despite your immense investments in ads, since just about 0.1% of online users are clicking on banner ads. The ad industry relies on impressions to count and charge; but 33% of them are not even seen by users. 86% skip TV ads; 44% of direct mail is never opened; etc.
A lot of good stuff is happening online, therefore no consumer enjoys unwanted interruptions. That is why marketing in 2015 and the future is not about interruptions when one is enjoying their content but being that content!
And the good news? New digital tools are enabling both individuals and businesses to reap millions on the Internet without a lot of costs in starting a business or promoting it. No more entry barriers; marketing has now been democratized.
Keep Away from Any Trouble with Google
Several reasons can explain your failure to use inbound marketing tools like SEO, social media, blogging, newsletters, etc to drive leads. Maybe you have already tried and given up after getting burned. But I guarantee you that it is not that it is not working for you, it is you who have not made it do so!
Or maybe you got in trouble with Google for some irresponsibility, like outsourcing your SEO to the Philippines to get on top of Google search for 10 keywords for some few hundred bucks, for instance.
Stephen C. Baldwin, the author of Net Slaves: True Tales of Working the Web and the Editor-in-Chief at Didit once talked of this. He has interviewed several SEO spammers. Quite sadly, they are all obsessed with fast money, are contemptuous of searchers cheated into consuming their poor-quality content, and rather strangely have the irrational belief that the law can never catch up with them.
And the good news? Marketers using smart SEO tactics actually get more profits in the long run compared to those who use crude and risky optimization approaches of the past.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of SEO
For many years now, SEO practitioners have massively bombarded the Web with poor quality and spam content; breaking directories, keyword-stuffing of content, spamming blog comments, buying and trading links to cheat Google algorithms into pushing their mediocre content to the top of keyword rankings, etc. This was bad, and oftentimes very ugly, but well, it worked! I like to call it the Wild West Era of SEO.
Google released their first major anti-spamming algorithm — known as Panda — in 2011. Before that, you could get on top of Google searches by purchasing links and banging out loads of low-quality content. This and other recent algorithm updates, including Penguin, have rendered obsolete almost all the dirty SEO tricks of old.
But you still need to know how search algorithms function if your content has to perform on Google or even Facebook Graph Search. The game changer? Rather than merely being concerned about keywords, as marketers we also have to optimize our content such that it relates to those who are typing it into the search box, i.e. our target consumers.
Technically, the Google search algorithm is a machine that tries hard to think and act human. Nowadays, this is why social signals, the authority of the author and other kinds of user-engagement metrics are gradually becoming a major part of how Google is making decisions on what is going on top of searches.
Rather than chasing the Google algorithm, why not get ahead of it by putting your user first.
For 2014 and beyond, we marketers have to align our keyword strategies with user needs by laying more emphasis on the connection between web content and intent (i.e. the keyword) via methodical audience profiling, research, and analysis.
The Good: White-Hat SEO
Focusing on quality — quality optimization, quality content, quality relationships, etc — is key to SEO success. When you have quality, users and algorithms follow suit.
- Quality Optimization: helps search-engine spiders understand your content via on-site technical SEO.
- Quality Content: valuable content for your users is both linkworthy and shareworthy.
- Quality Relationships: build strong relationships across your industry via social media so as to amplify your content and raise chances of gaining valuable backlinks to your site.
The Bad: Black-Hat SEO
For a significant number of SEO companies and consultants, everything came to a standstill in 2011. Even right now, a new business is getting sold every second on $200 hassle-free SEO packages that are sure to get them to the top of Google for some keywords. Whether you actually believe in fairy tales or not, there is nothing like a free lunch in the SEO world.
If you use any of the practices below, more harm than good always results:
- Buying links: any kind of a pay link scheme or farm is a major contravention of Google terms of service.
- Acquisition of low-quality links: This involves the manual creation of a raft of low-quality backlinks via directory submissions and commenting. Since Google knows better, you should too.
- Spinning of articles: large-scale rewriting and publishing of low-quality content and garbage links across the Web.
The Ugly: SEO Spamming
Multiple forms of spam exist, and it is a major challenge for Google. They are therefore constantly checking out their search results for spam and trying to filter them.
Google can flag you for spamming or even thrown you out of their index if you practice the following spammy SEO techniques:
- Using fake accounts, comments or user reviews: this can also get you fined or even sued.
- Spammy content: stuffing of keywords, doorway pages, or use of hidden or invisible text straight from a 1990s playbook are some of the tactics here.
- Spam blogs: these are built on stolen duplicate content containing thousands of very useless webpages. Such sites are built only for monetization with no value whatsoever to users.