Most businesses have a strategy or are diligently working on one to reduce their dependence on Google, both from pay-per-click and organic search traffic. The strategy to reduce dependence on Adwords is usually SEO, but a strategy to reduce dependence on G’s organic traffic has arisen. Why? Google’s current attitude about SEO seems to be “if you don’t care about the algo, we care about you.”
Just a few years ago ranking in Google was on page SEO and building a bunch of links to your site. But today, Google’s algo seems to sniff out those sites that are over doing on page and off page SEO, a.k.a. over optimizing their site to regain a good ranking, and holding them under to favor sites that seem to not care much about SEO or to favor big brands that Google trusts.
Remember when these things used to work:
- Lots of anchor text in link building
- Submitting your articles to article directories
- Pointing all link building efforts at the home page
- Keyword stuffing
- Non relevance in link building
- Buying a batch of links
Google’s anti-SEO stance
If you aren’t aware yet, Google is at war with SEO and link building in particular… and it has cost them dearly. Even the relevance of Google search results is suspect now, but most people continue to go with the popular search engine although there are some great alternatives available.
The era of black hat vs. white hat SEO, gray hat and all the other hats is over as far as G is concerned – today Google is “saying” there is no white hat or above board SEO, it’s all black hat – at least that’s what G wants you to think.
Companies that care too much about G do this – every day they’re hustlin’
- Changing and/or adding meta tags
- Trying to get links, buy links, fix links, remove links, etc.
- Trying to get setup on the latest social media site often at the expense of ignoring the ones they are already on
- Listening to every word Matt Cutts says and making changes accordingly
- Listening to hearsay about how to adjust to the latest algo and running out to try it
- Chasing the latest competitor, tip, trick and short cut
Some of these things may be worth doing to some degree, but the day of SEO fanaticism is over and bad for business.
The obvious problem with this approach to SEO is an attitude like “there must be a short cut to get to the top.” Well, Google is all over that. They watch for changes on a site right after a rankings drop that indicate the company has a “every day I’m hustlin” SEO approach. When G finds this to be the case, I’ll bet you can guess what they do about it.
Do you feel like Google is a tiny bit too big or intrusive? I know I do.
This is just one example of the hustlin’ approach, but if you view SEO as some kind of technical, IT department project, then it’s likely that Google will continue pinning you down every time you stand up again.
The anti-Google stance
If you view SEO as part of marketing so that the marketing/branding/content/social team collaborates about how to get massive attention to the brand that results in mentions and natural links to the site, then you may be on to something that G might care about – the back door to G.
Companies who couldn’t care less what G does, but G cares about them:
- Focus on building a trusted brand rather than taking short cuts
- Believe in themselves, learn from their mistakes and stick with the long-term plan
- Know their ideal customer and creatively engage them
- Think big and take risks to make themselves known
Big brands don’t care about G and many of them have unique and creative ways to get huge exposure that their target audience loves: Coca Cola, McDonalds, Bud Light, Snickers, Etrade, etc.
“But Tom, those big brands have deep pockets and I’m just a small biz.”
If you’ve heard Robert Stephens, Founder of The Geek Squad speak, you’ve likely heard his approach to marketing his company…
Marketing is a tax you pay for being unremarkable. We had to standout because we had no money for advertising. Make a name for your self and build that base.
“The marketing people in a company are the artists of a company… but operations is marketing now – how you answer the phone, your on hold music; training – people do not pay attention to who they’re hiring, anything that touches the customer you should own it, never outsource it.”
If you are a small business, you must find a way to momentous marketing and often that means SEO, social, content, branding and marketing must work together.
Build an audience so vast that you could care less whether Google ranks your site or not. Here are some ideas for your next brainstorm meeting:
- Give your prospects a “free lunch”
- Incite the influencers in your industry
- Give your customers great reasons to talk about your business or to be used in a case study
- Get serious about user experience
- Create content that has more unique value than anyone else in your space
Here are a few businesses who found a way to momentous marketing when they were small and started out like The Geek Squad (i.e. no money or not much for advertising):
The Blair Witch Project – launched a movie before the era of social media with a crafty pre-launch campaign and about $30K budget
Blendtec – Will it Blend?
Dollar Shave Club – Launched a business with a video
HelloFlo – Launched a business with a $6K video that went viral
Nightmares Fear Factory – a haunted house that snaps images of people’s most fearful moment, very funny stuff
Don’t let your small business make you small minded, think big and take risks to create outstanding marketing that takes your business to a new level… independent from G.
Break your Google addiction.
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