Search Engine Optimization
SEO has become a magic word used by salesmen to sell snake oil. Best scenario, they are selling you a service that you could do yourself. Worst scenario, they are using black hat methods to temporarily boost your search ranking that will not last and could result in worse outcomes over time.
There are no magic shortcuts anymore. Google's indexing intelligence has gotten quite clever. The question we need to be asking ourselves is, "What does a search engine want from your site?". They want to maintain the most accurate ranking that reflects users desire for results. This is what makes a search engine successful. They have a secondary coal of selling services (advertising) and cornering the market through user tools and interactions.
So, to make the most of your relationship with Google or any search engine, you will want to align yourself with their goals. This can mean purchasing advertising, which is highly effective at both acquiring traffic to your site and when that traffic is a successful interaction with a user, improving your site's natural ranking in the index. Pay-Per-Click Advertising is a great way to connect your site content directly to the driving factors that are bringing visitors. Ensuring that user searches are fully supported with engagement and call to action when they arrive on your site is a solid strategy in SEO.
Another way to align yourself with Google or any major search platform is to utilize their business tools, most of which are free. This can mean checking in regularly with your account and looking for new available tools. Google is known for innovating new tools and features all the time. Some stick around and become mainstream while others phase out. The important thing is that Google will want to show off their new features and encourage their use by providing exposure to sites that take advantage of those features.
I have a love/hate relationship with social media. It's an amazing time in history to have access to tools for communication that will allow you to build a network and audience. With a simple hashtag you can connect with like minded people to engage, educate, and entertain. There are two ways to utilize social media. You can "play the game" or you can advertise. Advertising on platforms that know their users better than their users are aware can be immensely powerful. It allows you to so specifically target your ads in ways that no other advertising medium can. And the more targeted your advertising, the more specific you can be with your audience, the more successful your campaign.
Many people attempt to use social media to “play the game” of creating content, posting memes, or sharing day to day behind the scenes operations in order to build an audience and engage with customers. While there have been some companies that have done this to great success, there are a couple things to be aware of. In order to best create engagement and build an audience, you must make an attempt at encouraging your audience to engage heavily in the platform. The call to action will likely be to engage on platform in order for the content to best match the algorithm’s desires. Content that drives users away from the platform will not be as successful. Because that goes against the driving goals of the algorithm. They want to drive eyeballs to screen, on platforms, to promote ads. Ads that might be from your competitors.
This is where the hate relationship with social media comes in. Because working hard to develop a following on a platform takes influence and control away from you and keeps that power in the hands of the platform. A platform that might decide to take your years of effort and decide to cash in on your audience by requiring you to promote your own content to your own audience. This is just one of many reasons why I recommend a balanced approach to social media. It is important to be available and be responsive on social media platforms. But apart from that, I recommend advertising over building natural engagement.
It’s also important to have an understanding of the dysfunctional problems in how the algorithms build engagement. One of the best ways to keep users coming back to a platform is through drama and disagreement. This is why your aunts and uncles have ruined your desire to read the facebook feeds. Pushing argumentative or misinformed information and opinions draws users to respond, correct and argue. Which all qualifies as engagement. So the systems push more of this content. For your company or organization, this means that wholesome, positive and politically benign content is less likely to go viral. And we all know that engaging or worse, creating drama can have very real and negative impacts on a brand’s reputation.
If you really want to build an community around your brand, be sure you are collecting email addresses. This is the only way you insure direct connection to your audience. Email marketing done right is still the most effective way to maintain control of your communications with your community.
- Advertise over attempting to go "viral"
- Be present and responsive
- Be aware of the toxic effects of social media
- Keep and maintain your email subscribers