In my last article in this series, The New SEO – Independence from Google, I explained that Google is at war with SEO and link building in particular. Google comes out with a new twist with regularity now, the latest is the “not provided” keyword data from Google – for most businesses “not provided” has risen to the most popular keyword in your web analytics and according to Google, that is going to continue going up. Even Adwords advertisers won’t be able to see what organic keywords brought traffic to their site from G and we’ll all be left with an extra step to figure out what keywords are bringing traffic from Google – the educated guess.
If there ever was a time to gain independence from Google this is it.
I introduced the anti-Google stance to SEO: stop chasing G and let G chase you by building a trusted brand, engaging your target audience and taking risks to get your message and brand in front of 100% of your online target audience.
This marketing strategy is not for everyone because it’s not easy and it requires some trial and error to get there, but it works and yes it even works for small businesses who don’t have a large marketing budget but who are determined and creative to overcome challenges.
I’ll be revealing the strategy I use throughout this series. But first, for those who don’t know much about me, I’ve been a SEO consultant for over a decade and although I am sound with technical SEO, the majority of my expertise and emphasis has been on gaining natural links – yes, it seems like G is at war with people like me, but I use strategies that G is either ok with or that they won’t do anything about. Just take it in for now and I think you’ll agree with me when you get to the end.
The power of engagement
In the audition rounds of The X Factor and American Idol, a random, unknown person walks out on stage hoping to impress the judges enough to go on to the next round. Most contestants during this stage of the show get booed off because they don’t know how terrible they sound to a live audience. Maybe their friends weren’t honest with them or they deluded themselves to enter the contest only to find out the harsh reality from the judges and audience that they really do suck.
If you aren’t a well known brand or good at engaging, this could be what is happening with the content on your website. People are finding your site (hopefully your target audience) and before they get very far with it, they bail. You just lost the contest likely to a competitor who did just a little more than you did to get their attention and engage them.
When business leaders delude themselves to believe that what they are offering online is exciting to their target audience, it’s as weird as an elephant determined to get in an elevator.
Attention getting and engaging content is table stakes to online marketing and you have no excuse for not providing it.
Sending more traffic to your site will not fix an engagement problem.
But it’s not just the website that doesn’t engage:
- Does your Facebook Page have a few hundred likes or fans (a few thousand might indicate it’s engaging)?
- Does your email newsletter entice a few or many to open and take the desired action?
- Does the YouTube Channel consistently get new subscribers every month?
- Is your LinkedIn profile on autopilot or does it attract the power users?
Now before you throw in the towel and exclaim in frustration, “I’ve got an engagement problem but I don’t have time to do all of this and run my business!”
Hear me out, this is not overwhelming and I’ll show you. When you see it you’ll think, “This isn’t complicated, it makes a lot of sense and I can do this.”
Alignment with your target audience is key to engagement
Online Publishers Association researched online engagement and found that users engage through specific experiences when visiting websites. These are the top twelve:
- Entertains and absorbs me
- Looks out for people like me
- Regular part of my day
- My personal time out
- A credible safe place
- Connects me with other people
- Touches me and expands my views
- Makes me smarter
- Turned on by ads
- Easy to use
- Helps and improves me
- Worth saving and sharing
There are 22 distinct online experiences outlined in the study, but these should help you move in the right direction. Which one fits your business? Which has the highest impact?
Regardless of how you do it, engagement is about getting the attention of your target audience to build a relationship with them.
But without alignment, engagement is a fool’s game, here’s one example.
Keyword research and using keywords in content is great if the words you use are useful to or the way your target audience thinks or communicates. Otherwise, you are playing a guessing game with keywords or going after things that don’t make your target audience feel like you really know them.
Don’t play around with keywords and content, use them both strategically to focus in on different types of prospects – sort of like a sniper instead of spraying buck shot everywhere.
Alignment is the result of a perfect fit between the people you want to reach and the offer you are trying to make. Alignment optimization is a big part of the new SEO and it is fundamental to marketing that gets results.
In the next part in the “Break Your Addiction to Google” series, I’ll be digging deeper into alignment and how to do it.