Google traffic has lost momentum. Not many businesses care anymore. People who are searching for something on search engines are searching for information. Unless you’re selling information, the traffic from there is likely to be worthless. Even more painful if you’re in the habit of paying for that traffic and not capturing leads. That’d be bonkers!
For years, corporations have been investing heavily in SEM. For those of you who don’t know, search engine marketing is not the same as search engine optimisation. SEO is organic traffic and only happens when the search engine algorithms deem your site to have quality information that will answer the user queries put into the search field.
Search engine marketing is using all aspects of search giants, which includes Bing and Yahoo to get both organic search traffic and capture traffic by paying for placement within the search results. In both cases, you’re at the mercy of the search providers – at a cost. Don’t be fooled into thinking the organic traffic is free either. It’s far from it. The only time organic is free is if you accidentally wing it onto the first page of results, which rarely happens.
Despite myths about backlinking being dead, it is not. It’s still part of the ranking game and acquiring the links are costly. Not that you should be buying links in the first place, but in terms of gaining them naturally, the largest expense is going to be towards content creation. Even if you do that in-house, you will still need to hire someone at some point to make it more engaging by creating infographics, optimising the meta details for SEO purposes, or the time spent engaging with other webmasters to get placement for your content on other outlets to grow your reach online, and in doing so, your brand reputation.
Let’s talk a bit about brand reputation
This is what you need to be focusing on. Forget about search because those results are not engagement drivers. You need engagement to grow your business. Brands failing to engage lack the feedback of real consumers and therefore the direction their customers are looking for them to grow. When you have your customers telling you where you need to improve, you can go about getting things done productively and that moves you closer to becoming a thought leader. A term that Google will tell you themselves the definition of and this is something of a factor in the search results returned for queries.
People are searching differently now than they did a few years back. The reason for the swift change is that anyone can publish content online. That’s caused a lot of misinformation to surface and people cannot be following poor advice. People want authoritative advice, which means content they can trust and that’s why all the emphasis over the past year or two has moved from this create epic content advice, to establish authority websites and maintain your presence.
Forget being everywhere
Don’t be misled by the advice that because of social media you need to be everywhere. You do not! You only need to be where your target audience is hanging around. That could be Pinterest, it could be Facebook, Twitter, or it could be a niche forum that I’ve never heard of.
You know your audience better than anyone does and that’s where you need to start with getting social and attracting engagement. Social doesn’t necessarily mean playing on the top social platforms. It only means you find the place that your target audience are social and engage with them there. Go where people are and contribute.
Do you need a Facebook fan page to engage?
No! In fact, I’d go as far to say if you’re a relatively unknown brand online, you may look stupid by setting one up. Appearance is everything and it’s clear to see on FB pages how many people “like” your brand. For that reason, you’re probably best to build an engaged audience the old fashioned and proven way of using email. Build your readership on your blog, and engage with your direct audience. Then use that readership to catapult your social media pages popularity.
Here’s the thing with establishing authority…
It snowballs but you need to capture the attention of those with the reach to send your way. If you’re following the advice of the internet Gods (as they like to think of themselves) you’ll be aiming for establishing your brand as a thought leader. To do that, you need to have featured content on some massively popular websites like Forbes.com. Not out of reach by any stretch because they do have 1000+ contributors. Research any media platform enough, understand their business objectives and align your content to their goals, which is mostly – bring them traffic and most will be happy to feature your content.
Traffic is the digital currency
When you post to social media, you need to have your followers and fans clicking your links. When you can do that, you have trust and that can be leveraged in a smart way, which is for exposure. Not sales!
When you focus on getting more eyeballs on your material, you get more traction per content piece, and that increases your brand awareness. Manage your brand effectively and you will build trust in people, they will engage, and an engaged audience is more than fans.
They are captive. Some will await your communications. Some will follow every piece of advice you put out. Some will buy every product you release. Some will eagerly pounce on the chance to beta test and share their feedback openly. The best part is they become an integrated part of your sales team. They sing your praises, they tell you where things need improving and most importantly, they drive your business forward.
That only happens when you engage with people. People make buying decisions. The internet makes it easy to educate. Be the educator, do smart content marketing, grow your audience and forget the hassles of traffic generation. Just build a way to communicate with people, familiarise them with your brand and you’ll be commanding traffic to any offer you put out there.
It’s all about brand awareness, reader engagement, and driving your people from social to wherever you publish your content.
Build brand awareness, grow your reach and sales will take care of itself.
SEO is a numbers game and open to manipulation. Social results can be manipulated with fake followers and buying likes, but you cannot buy engagement. You can only build it and then work to maintain it.