The Myth of SEO


The myth of search engine optimization

Slay the mythical beast known as SEO.

I’ve been to many meetings and job interviews where I am asked “What do you know about SEO? We want to make our page more search-optimized.”

This is the first sign you are dealing with someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about. There is a common misconception that SEO is some mystic practice where the right combination of keywords will put you on the front page of a Google search, and many web marketing groups would be more than happy to perpetuate this myth.

The truth is that Google’s ranking formulas are always changing.  The way to boost your pages searches is to create content that people like. That means you may need to actually transform your website from a corporate-mission-statement billboard into a place where people come to for valuable information and come back on a regular basis.

Keep your content fresh! Stale page = stale search results.

Keep it fresh

Give me a reason to come back to your site.  Find some way to update content frequently, at least in some part of the site.  That could be through a blog, a newsroom, photo galleries, videos or something great that I haven’t even thought of! Stale site = stale search results.

Give it away now

This requires you to give something away.  I don’t mean promotional t-shirts.  I mean information.

If you run a tax service, offer a weekly tip on financial fitness or deductions people might not know about. If you make carburetors, host a car-talk blog on your site.

Turn your site into a place where people know they will find new and engaging content on every visit.  Also, don’t be afraid of giving away your valuable information for free.  When you see restaurants giving out free samples, there’s a reason.  They know you’ll like it and you’ll come back when you’re hungry. If I read your baking tips every week, guess where I will come when I need a wedding cake? That’s called building affinity.

listen to your customers

Are you listening to your customers?

Listen to your customers

Instead of brainstorming terms you think are most important to your business, use Google Analytics look at the monthly keywords that are bringing people to your site. These are the keywords that are important to your customers, and they may not be what you think they are. Your customers are telling you what they want – are you listening?

Make it sociable and sharable

Okay, now that you have started creating great content on a regular basis, make sure people can share it.  Add social sharing options to all of your content and maybe even allowing comments on your blog posts or videos.

Consider creating interactive forums where customers can share tips and even troubleshoot product problems (saving you some customer service headaches). Your experts can participate in the forums too – a great way to monitor what people are saying about your company/products and to see any possible PR crises before they hit.

Also, use a strong social media presence, email marketing and a solid website to support each other.  You can read more about this concept here.

Say ‘so long’ to SEO

Now I want you to put your hand over your heart and swear that you won’t ask anyone about how to improve SEO again.  The truth is that SEO is a byproduct of having a site that provides information that is helpful – a site that people like, visit frequently, and share with their friends. You won’t get good search results just by being there – you have to be worth finding.

Until next time…

Fritos and the Facebook focus group


I think you would find this article in The New York Times to be rather interesting.  If you are too lazy to click the link, the article, “Social Media Are Giving a Voice to Taste Buds” notes how Frito-Lay is using Facebook to test new flavor ideas in lieu of costly focus groups.  Frito-Lay has developed an “I’d Eat That” button that allows Frito-Lay to measure the popularity of various proposed flavors in different parts of the country.

This is an example of a company unlocking the true potential of social media.  Think of how much it would cost to hold focus groups in California, New York, and Chicago to find out what flavors were popular in each region.  And if a mega corporation like Frito-Lay (which can certainly afford focus groups) decides it is just as good to use Facebook, think about what good news this is for your business!

The article, written by Stephanie Clifford, notes, “While consumers may think of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare as places to post musings and interact with friends, companies like Wal-Mart and Samuel Adams are turning them into extensions of market research departments. And companies are just beginning to figure out how to use the enormous amount of information available.”

Another great piece from the article:

“When Wal-Mart wanted to know whether to stock lollipop-shaped cake makers in its stores, it studied Twitter chatter. Estée Lauder’s MAC Cosmetics brand asked social media users to vote on which discontinued shades to bring back. The stuffed-animal brand Squishable solicited Facebook feedback before settling on the final version of a new toy. And Samuel Adams asked users to vote on yeast, hops, color and other qualities to create a crowdsourced beer, an American red ale called B’Austin Ale that got rave reviews.”

While your competitors are still toiling away at the old rules of marketing, you can use social media to engage your fans and conduct market research at the same time.  Use this opportunity to brainstorm ways you can combine research and fun for your fans.

Think about it this way – you spend money on focus groups to tell you what your fans like.  Why not just go directly to fans? The will feel like they have a stake in your company – this builds affinity and allows you the opportunity to connect with fans on a more meaningful level.

When fans buy the new flavor of chip that they voted for, they can say, “I helped make this possible.” Something to think about this weekend!

Until next time…