Remember marketing before social media, Google algorithm updates, personalization and localization? It’s hard to believe that there used to be a time when life was so simple.
All marketing channels were silos, and each – SEO, PR and “traditional” marketing – had its own specific function.
All you needed to do was submit your site to website directories to be found in search.
Meta tag and meta description keyword stuffing ran rampant. As simple an act as adding target keywords to the code of your website could help you easily rank well for search terms important to your business. Surely no one would manipulate this practice.
My absolute favorite tactic of the “SEO old days” is irrelevant exact match anchor text links. You’ve seen it before … links sprinkled on a website (often buried in the footer) that have absolutely nothing to with the actual content of the site.
In PR, we practiced a lot of similarly short-sighted tactics, ranging from blanket press releases to cold calling potential media outlets.
“Submit your article to hundreds of directories for $2!” Spreading content this way used to work. It was quick and easy, and quality was the least of anyone’s concerns. If you could get your website to rank well for doing 20 minutes worth of work, why wouldn’t you?
Then it all changed
Where did all of those before-times tactics leave us? Sitting pretty – for a while, at least.
It was easy to rank for search terms that were most important to a business, and rankings were all we needed to explain to clients: They typed their business name into a search engine, and if they came up #1, our job was done.
It’s hard to know exactly when everything changed, but the infamous case of JC Penney is probably a good place to start.
Soon after came the Google animals: Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird. Higher quality content, relevant links and better on-site experience became the new name of the game.
Localization and personalization stepped it up even further. These days, the old practices can no longer manipulate SERPs, and rankings are virtually meaningless.
What marketing looks like today
We now live in a new world: one that is being driven by people and not computers.
Who you know, where you are, and who has the most authority on what you’re searching are the new factors in search.
With most users now logged into Google at all times, an enriched search experience connects us with friends, acquaintances and trusted authorities on whatever we’re looking for.
Where does this leave us as marketers? We can now focus on building solid relationships with our customers, supporters, influencers and more.
Whether we are building links, acquiring mentions, building our community, we must be building and nurturing relationships along the way. Relationships are the key to everything we do.
Do we still have marketing silos? In some ways, yes. But those silos are now more intertwined than they ever were. Let’s take a look at what each contains…
- Building links (aka mentions) and relationships with site owners
- Creating content
- Schema/technical markup and understanding
- Creating content
- Acquiring mentions
- Building and nurturing relationships
Notice any similarities? Just like the rug in the Dude’s room, verticals are now really tied together.
Relationships are the difference
There are two questions that we must always keep at the forefront of our minds and answer in our new marketing world:
- Are you a trusted person?
- Is your story relevant?
Earning trust is important, but if you are passionate about what you do and tell your story well, trust will follow naturally.
How does one earn trust and relevance? Here are a few ways:
Setting up Google Authorship is an easy way to start earning trust online. If someone performs a search and included in their results is a photo of the content’s author, that’s powerful. We all crave human connection, so if I can see the image of the author before I even click on the result, I already start to feel a connection with that person. Real human = trustworthy.
Relevancy also plays a huge part in this. Be where your audience is. Pay attention to the conversation on social media. Answer every question your audience has, even the ones they don’t know they have.
Becoming a thought leader is also a wonderful way to gain trust and become an authority on the things you’re passionate about. Write an e-book. Host a webinar. Create a ton of content. Do case studies. All of these things help you gain trust and be seen as an authority in the eyes of a search engine and a user.
A perfect example of this is Marcus Sheridan, owner of River Pools and Spas. If you’ve never seen Marcus speak before, he’s worth the watch. Marcus realized that to sell pools during the recession, he needed to know and share everything there was to know about swimming pools.
So he created content that answered people’s every question about swimming pools. Sales skyrocketed – all because Marcus wrote about what he knew inside and out, and became the thought leader on swimming pools online.
And through all of this, be authentic. You’re an authority on the things you love – let that shine though.
The new marketing cycle
Talking about what you love, building trust, participating in relevant conversations, truly owning your space and becoming a thought leader, while building and nurturing relationships will reap you rewards for many years to come.
- Because you’re a trusted authority, your content is discovered.
- Because your content is useful, someone shares it.
- Because they share it, you build a relationship with them.
- Because you build a relationship, they become a lifelong customer and supporter.
- Because they support you, word spreads.
- Because word spreads, the cycle begins again and again and again.
So tell your own story. Tell it well. People will share. Relationships will be built. Your product will be found.