SEO Success is more about Communication Strategy

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This is a response to Eric Enge’s post
Why Is It So Hard to Increase Your Search Rankings By One Spot?

So the way to be perceived as the best is, in fact, to be the best. In today’s web world that doesn’t simply mean having the best product or service, but also the best plan for actively communicating that on the web.

Blogs and social media sites give you a way to do that in a non-commercial manner, and actively engage with communities, peers, influencers, and potential customers. These actions may not drive revenue directly, but they will help build up your brand.

Bold added

I’ve found that a simple answer confuses most people, or at least a lot of people who ask me how to rank their website in Google.

To echo Eric Enge, the answer is to be the best and to be perceived as the best. The perception part is important and is something that a lot of people struggle with when building businesses on the web.

Your offering can be the best whilst it is not perceived to be the best.

Perception is crucial.

It does not matter what you think about your stuff, it matters what other people think.

or

“It does not matter what you say it matters what people think you say.”

I see mediocre blog posts being tweeted more than brilliant blog posts all the time. Why, because the perception is that a specific blog post must be better because it’s published on a certain blog or by a certain author. It is not always the specific blog post that triggers such shares, rather it is the perception that this blog post must be worth sharing because of other factors.

Even when it might not be worth sharing.

Conversely, if the perception of a blog or blogger is low and yet they sometimes produce gold, it is liable to not get shared. This perception could be interpreted as branding of both the author and the website or blog.

It ties into what Eric was talking about because if something is perceived as being good, then the author must have some skills in communication and Google wants to send people to websites that can communicate well.

The ability to communicate must be pervasive, not only on the website but on other websites who link to website. The communication footprint which is sent out must be of a certain quality and usefulness.

You can think of it as branding if you like, but that’s oversimplifying. How communication is done has an effect on branding, but it is not branding.

It’s how you communicate, rather than “what your content is like”, that is more important.

Your content is merely a vehicle for your communication.

Most clients who come to me do not have a communication strategy, or even a social media or content strategy. That needs to be fixed, you need all the communication output to tie together and work towards specific goals. One bit of linkbait is not going to do this.

The most useful thing I offer clients is to create a Content Marketing strategy, or if you will a communication strategy. It’s not cheap and it goes deep into the problem and it’s also not cheap to implement. But having a road map such as this save a huge amount of time and money in the long run and it also gives you the ability to get where you are going more effectively.

In conclusion, it’s important to remember that SEO is not just about Excel spreadsheets and keyword data, etc. It’s about communicating to other human beings on a mass and yet intimate level. It requires a deep level of understanding about how human beings communicate and how their behavior can be infulenced by such communication.

Facebook is Dead

shackleton

Read a very interesting article over at Marketingweek.co.uk written by Mark Ritson, about fickle teens, and came across a great quote

Do you really imagine that Facebook will remain the de-facto social media standard by the time today’s 13-year-olds exit the teenage segment in 2020? Do you really believe Facebook is somehow immune from the same disease that infected MySpace?

The writer goes on to say.

The data supporting a teen defection from Facebook remains qualitative at this stage. I am certainly in no position to suggest that Facebook is already losing teen users or that they are already spending less time on the site. But the key lesson from Abercrombie is that while Facebook’s teen downfall may not yet be upon us, it is nonetheless inevitable and will be expeditious once it begins.

There is a saying in share trading, “trying to buy at the bottom of the market is like trying to catching a falling knife”.

Likewise basing your business decisions on if and when a particular social media system is no longer worth the ROI is not very efficient and you could easily get stabbed in the back of the hand by the falling knife.

Google trends reporting for searches based on in quotes, “Facebook is Dead”.

facebook is dead

We cannot predict when the fall from grace will happen, but we can design our online marketing strategy to be nimble, fast and adaptable. If you are told, “you need to get ready for change.”

You are listening to the wrong people.

Change has to be in your DNA.

When things move online they move fast, you need to be adaptable. If you think, “I’ve marketed on Facebook, it’s been good to me so I will always market on FB.” You will be dead.

Adaptability should be hard wired into your online marketing plan.

It should seep into your content marketing strategy to take advantage of techniques like Newsjacking, where you need to act swift and decisively.

The image is of Shackleton, a man who was able to adapt to enormous changes in his situation and survive a disasterous journey to the South Pole. You can get a great book about his journey, Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage to the Antarctic

Afflink attached.

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Fake Linkbait

jimmey-kimmel

You mean there is stuff on the Internads that is not true and just exists to get publicity, Oh no. Maybe Google should put a stop to this.

This is brilliant and obviously shows how relatively easy it is to fake a viral hit on youtube, only the viral bit wasn’t fake it was real. Of course it helps if you have an attractive, twerking, stuntwoman handy. And a fire extinguisher of course.

Please do not try to fake linkbaiting at home.

Jimmy Kimmel shows how the media laps it up.

Why your web content production needs to establish an Edginess Index

knife

I create a lot of content for clients and run into the same issues over and over. One problem is that the kind of content that gets results has an edge to it, but the client usually does not want content that has an edge to it, they just want to sell stuff.

Nothing wrong with wanting to just sell stuff.

However, magnetic content, content that attracts tends to be edgy content.

For example, if you are a client in the niche of “home lighting”, I may suggest an article along the lines of “Top ten lighting rigs to power your Cannabis Farm“.

I probably wont, but I am using this extreme example to illustrate the point. Of course the article still has to be written in a certain style whcih attracts the social movers and shakers and linkerati, to be deemed a winner.

Most business people do not live in my weird and wonderful world of online content creation, and so do not understand why approaching content in a counter intuitive way is sometimes essential.

So, it’s useful if we have an Edginess Index.

This is to gauge how edgy to make the content on a scale of 1 to 10.

Here is my Edginess Index:

1 = Local Govt publications
2 = Local newspaper
3 = Beano
4 = 2000AD
5 = TV Quick
6 = Top Gear
7 = FHM
8 = Sun/ Daily Mail
9 = Nuts
10 = XXXXXXXXXXX

Note: This is for the UK market specifically.

1. The most anodyne, mundane, safe copy I have ever read is that of local government publications. The stuff that tells you how to put your rubbish out etc. Useful if you need to know how to put rubbish out.

2. Local newspapers tend to be written by numbers, local jumble sale info, cat stuck in tree, man buys pork pie etc. It’s safe, useful as it tells you what’s going on and interesting if your in your area someone who kidnaps cats and sells them to the local butcher to kill and put into sausages has just been arrested.

3. The Beano is a comic for 6 to 12 year olds, although I still read it occasionally and enjoy it. The tone of the content is child friendly but fun. It’s a little mischievous with kids getting into scrapes and high jinx, it’s no Horrid Henry but it definitely appeals to the rebel in every child. In a way, it resonates wrong doing but in a way that a child can understand.

Most web content tries to get to this tone, but fails becoming more boring than a house brick.

4. 2000AD is the comic for 13 upwards, at least it was when I would read it religiously. It’s a lot more gritty than the Beano and deals with more grown up concepts, but no swearing, nudity or sex, but plenty of aliens getting fragged and Judge Dredd going around saying “I am the law”. Yes I am a fan.

5. TV Quick or any of those “by the counter tabloids”, is safe enough to sell at the supermarket checkout, but edgy enough to attract the attention and initiate the impulse part of the brain of an interested reader. It does sometimes contain articles like, “I was so fat I even ate the sofa”, kind of articles, but mostly it’s stuff that tickles your gran. There are about ten of these types of publications on the supermarket shelf and so a fair sized market.

If you took out the headlines and put them on a plain white page, they would seem shocking, but by making the colours of the mag soft and pleasing with pretty people and no gore, they are able to sell the, “I ate my neighbours dog baby”, type stories.

6. Now we are starting to get into the, “it may offend someone” category. Although not as offensive as the raw throat pipe of Mr Jeremy Clarkson, but it still does have that frisson of excitement. For example, “The first car I had sex in”, may be an article. Not talking about the bits and bobs you understand, but more the automotive angle, and so is less edgy than it seems.

7. FHM however, is as edgy as it seems. Offending a good portion of people, and yet attracting a sizable audience. Does not shy away from a bit of raw, bodily fluid type humour, but pulls back before you feel all dirty. I’m really talking about the articles, not the pictures.

In all of these content producers I am talking about the “tone” of the content, not the specific content itself, but what it represents and how many people it may offend.

8. Sun/Daily Mail website. These are British content producers, not sure what it would be in your locale. These contain highly offensive material, so much so that they regularly arouse the anger of a lot of people. These are at number 8 because of the amount of people that find them offensive, conversely they are insanely successful.
Very few of my business clients would want to be associated with articles such as “Freddie Star ate my hamster”. But this is what more people like to read and consume than most other publications.
The point is, these publications go out to offend and to bait people into a response. One only has to observe how the Mail handled the Samantha Brick situation. Which is a fascinating case to analyse and one we had a lot of fun with on Linkbait Coaching

9. Nuts. These porn dressed as “lads mags” are able to get into a lot of UK supermarkets. It’s mix of raucous humor and sexual objectification of women would rate it extremely objectionable. Few mainstream linkbaiters would go to this level, but those who do still get links, but find they get a label they just can’t shake.

10. XXXXXXXXXXX is just too hot to handle. So offensive I can’t even repeat it here. Not a level I have ever gone up to, but it’s important to know it’s here and that it exists.

This stuff does get links, but from a more smaller bag of link possibilities.

So there we have it, the more edgy we go the less likely a client is going to want it on their website or used as a guest post on someone else’s. The ideal is probably somewhere in the middle. It is very useful to use an edginess index, I would advise creating your own, relative to clients understanding.

Most content stays safe, not because the publishers want to protect our morals, but it’s the cheapest, safest and quickest to publish. It is not the most effective though, a higher level of edginess works better and I am not just talking sexual edginess or even violent, sometimes it can be something that challenged the current consensus.

Linkbait tends to naturally have an edge, or at least it should do. Attractive can sometimes disrupt and unsettle, but it can also challenge.

When directing those to create content for you it’s important you establish a way to communicate just how far you want to go with the content.

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