Editor’s Note: The following article on Search Engine Optimization was written by Kevin Howard, director of emerging media for Beltrame Leffler, an advertising agency based in Indianapolis, and was distributed by Inside INdiana Business.
There seems to be a lot of changes going on with Search Engine Optimization and the companies that provide SEO and social media services. There have been announcements of cutting staff, redirecting resources, updating business models, merging technologies… all because the “rules of search” have changed.
Google has implemented new algorithms (surely Yahoo and Bing to follow) to make for a better experience for the person doing the search. That has always been the goal of the search engines. Unfortunately, it has not been the goal for SEO companies. Their goal has been to get their clients on the first page of the search engines. In doing so, the relationship between SEO companies, their clients and the search engines has become counterproductive.
Many SEO companies have traditionally promoted their clients websites by optimizing them for keywords, then creating a separate blog website that links back to a client’s website.
Unfortunately, posting blogs to an independent website, and linking to the client website does not promote their client’s site or brand. Most of these companies were only trying to increase the overall page rank of the independent site as opposed to driving prospects to their client’s website. A missed opportunity to say the least. To address this, many SEO companies are now talking about creating content that promotes conversations on social sites that will help a company increase traffic and lead to sales, which should have been the goal in the first place. SEO and social media marketing need to be a part of an overall brand strategy.
The search engines should not be the ones driving what is an obvious and cost effective way to advertise and market for goods and services. What it takes to advertise and market, with all the emerging media, is an advertising agency that is focused on a client’s brand. Companies should focus on a clear concise message in all forms of advertising and marketing, and not on where your webpage shows up in a search. If you really need to attract the impulse buyer (my son needs new cleats for football), or the emergency buyer (think plumbers and a burst pipe), then use pay-per click advertising and get on the top of the search page. Otherwise, companies should use all of the tools available to deliver your branded message across all forms of advertising.
The key to advertising with all of the emerging media available today is to have a content rich website that delivers a compelling experience to the prospective client that starts conversations. While traditional SEO companies have used proprietary websites to deliver content, to do this right today means delivering content from your main website. Blogs, videos, latest news, pictures, stories, games… clear messaged branded content that brings people to your site. Then pushing that content out to other sites (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Yelp, FourSquare) that allows prospects to find you.
Linking the social media sites back to your websites helps with SEO and page rankings but should never be the focus. Creating content from your website and putting in more places gives prospects the opportunity to interact with you in a variety of ways. Concise, branded content that helps to funnel true prospects into conversations that leads to sales.
You don’t have to be on the first page of the search engines if your content is in many places and delivers a concise message. You don’t need thousands of followers, or likes … you need the likes to come from prospects who can buy. Today’s advertising and marketing has many avenues to promote your goods and services, but the goal should be just that … promoting goods and services, promoting your brand. It should never be using the tools just to be on the first page of the search engines, because if it is, you have wasted a golden opportunity to tell your story to the right people.
Brand recognition isn’t achieved with one-off projects here and there, or a little SEO and some social media. On the contrary, building brand takes a whole lot of soul searching and a little more patience. Brand recognition is more than your logo; it is your philosophy, your promise to customers, the unique experience through your communication that endears a customer or prospect to your brand.
That being said, a brand and the long-term benefits of building it are well worth the wait. Using SEO and social media is part of building your brand. SEO and social media are not the whole … they are a piece of the puzzle. Find a company that will carry your brand across all forms of advertising and marketing and you will reap the benefits of a true branded organization.