The Zen of Search Marketing

By Hector Cisneros
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Around 2010 internet marketing had reached a crossroads where what had once worked for getting found in Search had reached a tipping point. A perfect storm if you will. If you did your research, you’d know that Google had reached Search Engine dominance by partnering with Yahoo in 2000, acquiring key web properties like Blogger (2003) and YouTube (2006) and launching its AdSense platform. Google also fortified its position by acquiring many other useful web properties, tools, and add-ons. Google topped this off by winning the latest browser wars with Chrome, which finally displaced the internet Explorer after it had held the dominant position for over 14 years. This was the coup de gras for its competitors, and today its search dominance is so strong that it is almost impossible to displace. However, the internet has evolved into a multi-segmented arena. Fast forward to 2017, and you have the search engine market, The social Arena, the video arena, the news arena, the blogging market, email marketing, digital press releases and much more. Today’s Search Marketing has evolved way past on-page search engine optimization. It now requires a lot of off web page work to build a brand, drive traffic, create buzz, build credibility and make sales. Google has stated publicly that you must provide the best user experience for the visitor. This is also true in the social arenas in blogging and any other venue you're engaged in when marketing. In this episode of Working the Web to Win we will dissect the current state of Search Marketing, discuss it’s must-have elements, its segmented arenas and provide the reader with tips and techniques to achieve search marketing success. So, get into your Zen posture, and get ready to start taking notes as we study the Zen of Search Marketing. 

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There’s More Than One Way to Skin a Search Engine – Most SEO consultants will tell you that being on page one of Google search is the cat’s meow. This is true from a narrow perspective. In fact, it's not being on page one that should be the goal of all internet marketers; it’s getting found and then converting your visitors into happy customers! Today there are numerous options for getting found! You can, of course, engage in Pay per Click, or work hard to achieve a page one organic position in search, but let’s not forget the 2 billion people that spend a lot of time on Facebook or the hundreds of millions of people who read blogs every day. All of these media outlets have search mechanisms built into them. In essence, they are all search engines!

Today any would-be internet marketer has a number of options. We personally like the versatility of blogging because it is a multi-media rich medium that is the perfect fodder for the social networks. Speaking of the social nets, the top five social nets reach more than 3 billion people daily, which seems like a great place to fish for prospects, right? At Working the Web to Win, we believe there is no magic bullet to achieve search marketing success. There are no magic beans you can buy to propel you to internet stardom. It’s hard work producing high-quality content on a day in and day out basis. Yes you can engage in pay per click marketing and garner traffic and achieve results, but this will do little to help you achieve a long term high organic ranking. Daily content production will attract and build the credibility needed to sway and engage today's tech savvy consumers. Today’s internet shopper has lots of choices, and they know how to search for not just the best prices, but the best product based on its social reputation and consumer ratings. Today the consumer experience is the primary driving factor that leads to online success. Yes, you can trick all of the search mechanisms (Google search, Facebook Graph search, etc…) for a short while, but when you get caught, its’ walk the plank and keelhauling for you and your business that the search engines will serve up.

Here's what Google Web Master has to say about SEO.

Work on Pleasing the audience, not the Search enginesIt’s the quality of the overall Audience experience that counts today not how you can trick the search engines. The best content is mobile friendly and will work on all digital devices. It has to be authoritative and tied back to your web properties. This content must be a full multi-media, be high quality, relevant, timeliness, usefulness, educational and maybe have some entertainment value. Above all, it must be useful to the end user. It doesn’t matter how cool we think our content is; the consumer determines what is hot and what is not. Forget trying to pack the perfect keywords into your articles, or using black hat SEO tricks. Concentrate on telling a great story, delivering a clear and compelling message or providing a high production value video, blog or podcast. People are starved for high quality, relevant, timely and useful information. Give them what they want, and they will reward you with positive comments, shares, testimonials, and sales. If you want to build a big audience check out: The Secrets to Building an Audience for Your Business.

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Blogging is the Bomb - Blogging is effective, as long as you publish at least once a week. Websites with blogs that are published weekly have four times as much traffic as those who don’t have blogs (or inactive blogs). Sites which have two blogs published weekly can have as much as ten times more traffic as a site without blogs. Blogging is a multi-media rich medium with hundreds of millions of daily readers. It is also the perfect fodder for the social nets because it can appeal to all types of people regardless of which sense they favor. It can provide, news, videos, photos, audio files and great story lines. It’s a great place to tell your story, deliver a compelling message and build your credibility all at once. All you have to do is write a couple of 1000-word articles a week and then publish them on your blog. Then you must distribute them to as many social nets and followers you can reach. By creating authoritative high quality, relevant, timely and useful blogs on a weekly basis, we have been able to reach 1.4-million-page view since we started in 2012. We started out small, but by consistently writing and publishing every week, we now reach as many as 42 thousand readers a month. To learn more about blogging read our article called: Blogging Secrets of the Pros.

Video has a Major Advantage – If you have an issue with writing, then video could be your
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best bet. In fact, online video has a major advantage over many types of content. Most of the US population who uses search has a preference for video. Four out of five people who see a video listed above the fold in search will click on the video first. Most Google search listings only show one or two video listings per page. If your video is the one listed above the fold, 80% of the people searching for that term will pick your video. Online video has some other advantages today. It’s mobile friendly. It’s also easy to create videos. Almost every smart phone today has a built in HD video camera. Editing software even comes free with some smart phones. You can also acquire free or next to free video editing apps on both app stores. YouTube and Facebook have built in editing capabilities as well. The video should be either short, say 60 to 90 seconds long, (when used for testimonials, about us, and USP messages) or 5 to 30 minutes long if you are producing streamed shows or tutorials. Also, let's not forget to repurpose these videos. You can create podcasts from them; they can be used to reverse engineer blog articles and vice versa. Don’t forget to try and produce evergreen content as well. If you produce high-quality evergreen content, you have a marketing message that can be recycled for a very long time. This lowers your cost of marketing substantially and helps build credibility as well. To learn more about video marketing, check out: The Changing Face of Online Video.

Social Networks Drive the Market - Today we live in the age of the consumer. Great reviews from consumers can launch a thousand successful products. Negative reviews will sink your product line and possibly your company. If the negative aspects of your business are not addressed, any dissatisfied consumer not pacified or made right, is likely to post a scathing review. If you want to know more about social network and reputation building, read: Top 12 Marketing Secrets for Filling the Credibility Gap.

Today’s consumer is not only the most tech savvy ever; they have several huge advantages
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when making buying decisions. First off, they have their social networks where they can find reviews, comments, and testimonials on just about anything. Most also have smart phones, essentially a handheld computer that allows them to do their research anywhere, including in the store aisle. Ask any consumer today, and they will all tell you that they make decisions based on social comments, shares, recommendations, rating and reviews, period! If your business does not have a process in place to build and implement a way to generate positive, reviews, all that remain are negative reviews. This is because a dissatisfied consumer is ten times more likely to post a negative review than a happy consumer is to post a positive one. We regularly create these programs for our clients. Building a positive reputation, builds trust, strengthen your brand and creates sales. You must have a process in place to build positive reviews, recommendations, and testimonials. This is a critical marketing element that is needed in today’s tech savvy consumer world. Consumers have easy access to tons of product, service, and company research at the blink of their smart phones. If you want to know more about the benefits of social media, read: Seven Valuable Benefits Social Networks Provide and Social Media Marketers Covet.

Landing Pages Convert & Websites Educate – Earlier in this article I said that there is more than one way to skin a search market. Well along this same train of thought, there are many ways to create a website. In fact, any web property that is branded to your company, its
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products or service is in essence, a website. This includes Fan pages in the social sites, Blogs, video channels and pod cast sites. When talking about traditional websites, we have three main types. We have Nexus sites; these are the original websites with a home page and many informational pages. They are designed to educate the consumers about your company, products, and services. Then we have eCommerce websites that are more like online catalogs where a person can click and buy products and services. And lastly but very important are marketing web pages. These are often called landing pages, splash pages, and micro sites. Regardless of what you call them, their purpose is to narrow the consumer focus towards making a buying decision without having to leave that page. These pages must be designed with a simple, easy to use and understand navigation bar. They must prominently display your contact information, including a video testimonial, a USP message (unique selling proposition), a compelling offer and a call to action all above the fold of the web page. These landing pages can be tied back to your eCommerce and nexus sites, but it is imperative that the landing page includes everything needed to make the buying decision. There are also hybrid sites that blend these three types of websites plus there are other venues that I mention earlier. Now in case you missed my comment that any web property can be a website, then pay attention now. Understand, that social sites, blogs, and even video channels can also be eCommerce and landing page sites. The web only has websites that are accessed or viewed in different ways. It's up to you to make sure you are reaching your customers where they live and play. And when you do, make sure they have everything they need to make a buying decision while visiting. If you want to learn more about websites that convert, check out: What Your Webmaster Should be Telling You!

Being Found is Not the Be All to End All - Getting found is only one-third of the success equation. The other two-thirds are generating positive buzz and conversion. Your web
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properties need to be branding, creating traffic, producing leads, testimonials, and conversions all at once. Each of your web properties may be engaged in all or just some of these marketing goals. However, the more aspects you address, the better your chances of success. Remember that there are different strokes for different web-folks. That is, some people love Google Search, some love to watch YouTube videos, some live on Facebook, while others love Twitter or Instagram or maybe even LinkedIn. But no matter where they find you, you must give them what they want, provide them with high-quality content, products, and services.  You then have to ask them to make and share positive reviews, recommendations, and testimonials. No amount of slick marketing will sustain sales if you’re not providing a true value-add for your customers. No amount of PR will save your company if you are providing poor customer service. Today the consumer rules. Trickery may produce short term results, but it will ultimately end in failure once the word gets out. Of the three aspects of consumer marketing today, being found is the easiest. Building a good reputation and converting visitors into sales are the two elements you will have to work the hardest on. To get a broader perspective of the many ways to reach prospects, read: The Evolution of Touch Marketing in the 21St Century.

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No matter what form of Internet marketing you engage in, getting found is critical to getting in the game. Once your web property is found, you must make sure the prospect has everything they need to feel positive and make a buying decision. This can only be accomplished by providing the user an excellent experience. After that, you must provide a high-quality product or service that meets or exceeds the consumer's expectations. And finally, you must leverage that consumers positive experience into a torrent of positive reviews, ratings, and testimonials. I know that some say this is a lot of work. Well, yes, it is, and it’s worth it. If you don’t have the time to engage in all of these content marketing elements, find a reputable marketing company to do the work for you. At Working the Web to Win, we guarantee results for organic page position, organic social network growth, blog page views, search and social media follower conversion. You can check out our reputation by viewing these customer testimonials on this blog.

When executed correctly, content search marketing can be like being in the zone. This article is called the Zen on Content marketing because you have to acquire Zen like focus and engage in a daily Zen like practice of doing what has to get done, day in and day out. My many years of marketing experience has taught me that, producing high quality, relevant, useful and timely content, on a daily basis, wins the marketing battles. And if you do it long enough, you will win the title of best in your industry.

That’s my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.

In this article, I have provided an updated view of what it takes to be successful in search marketing today. We call this approach the Zen of Content Marketing because the steps always lead us to produce positive results. By following these tips and methods, you will achieve a strong, long term, high ranking organic position in any internet marketing platform you engage in.

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Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on BlogTalkRadio.com, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.” 

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