Search Engine Optimization (and making friends with Google)
SEO is a discipline that requires constant work (and study) because Google’s algorithms (the programs-within-programs that decide which websites should be given preferred status in Search Engine Results Pages—or SERPS—are constantly changing. It’s like the ongoing technological battle between police radar and the radar detector industry; every time you, as a business, learn how to adjust your site content to make it rise higher in Google search results, Google figures out a way to recognize that it’s being “tricked,” and the algorithms change again. Ideally, your search engine optimization should change as often as Google’s algorithms change, which sometimes is weekly. But, if your site is SEO’d correctly and maintained well Google’s algorithms can have less of an effect on you…
Putting your website out there can feel pretty one-directional. You take pictures, write some truly compelling words about your organization, put the site online … and who knows? Is anyone looking at it? Are your incoming links from other sites hurting or helping you? Where are visitors clicking once they get to your site? There are ways to tell, and knowing how many people are visiting your site is valuable information. It’s equally valuable to know how many people are visiting your competitors’ websites. In this article, we’ll discuss how to use Google Tools and other analytics software to build and manage a website that climbs rapidly in the search results and stays there.
In the old days, people generally met face-to-face—or at least spoke on the phone—before doing business with each other. We’re too busy for that now—or think we are—and online marketing has streamlined the process of doing business so thoroughly that consumers have largely traded the in-person buying experience for the ease of click-and-buy “relationships.” A business Facebook page (link to USL web page), among other social media platforms, has become a surrogate way of building relationships for a brand and giving consumers new opportunities to get to know a company in a more behind-the-scenes way.
I’ve been in the marketing industry since 1988, and I’m seeing trends I never imagined before. You can order a logo design for five bucks online. It may be a terrible logo, but many 1990s ad agencies would have charged five to ten thousand dollars for a logo that still might be terrible. You can buy a custom “explainer video” for $150. It looks exactly like the other 2 million explainer videos on Youtube, but in the past, traditional ad agencies charged from $5,000 to $500,000 for any kind of video. I’ve worked for several traditional advertising agencies in Wichita, KS, and I’ve watched the demand for those kinds of services shrink, especially in this challenging economy.
What does the word “marketing” even mean, anymore? Somewhere back in history, the art of advertising began as a sign on the front of a building. It probably said “Ale.” Print advertising came along in 1840. The art of “creative advertising” dates back to 1898. In the 1920s – the radio; 1950s – broadcast television; 1980s – cable TV; and of course, the game-changing invention of the Internet in the 1990s. Marketing, advertising, digital media … how do they fit together, and do the old techniques even work anymore?
What the Heck is a Brand?
Brand management can seem harder than it actually is because so much of what you hear sounds like this: “Mumbo blah psychographic micro-culture blah-nalysis.” You can pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to hear words like those from marketing consultants. I know people who have. And if you’re a huge corporation that can afford to track complex target data, bully for you. Fascinating stuff. But also, it makes branding sound difficult, almost mystical.
Marketing is Like Fishing
I’m not shy about it; I like to fish. I like the outdoors, the beer, and the professional education that comes with silent thought while catching my own food. Not that I constantly think about business when I fish, but there are similarities. You want to catch a bass? Fish shallow waters around the brush piles. Wiggle a shiny lure in a taunting way. But if you want to catch a channel catfish, you have to put some smelly bait on the bottom, in deeper waters, and keep it still. Different fish need different baits and presentations. Marketing is like that.
Should I SEO My Own Website?
Do you know how many people visited your website, last month? Last year? Maybe you’ve tried to pull some basic numbers from Google Analytics. There is some good information there, but Google shares only what Google wants to share, and most of the information is not organized in a way that helps you improve SEO, web traffic to your site, which is what you really want from Internet marketing.