The core game of SEO is Influencing
SEO is more than Optimising
When we optimise one of your web pages for Search, what we are doing is making what your page is about super-clear to the search engine crawlers. The clearer, more consistent and more engaging your content is, the better it will rank.
So what we’re really doing is influencing – influencing search engines to prioritise your content.
You can buy influence
You can buy influence through pay-per-click advertising. What and where depends on who you’re seeking to attract and what platforms they’re active on.
Businesses have been relying on advertising since day one. The thing is, though, in this heavily distracted modern world, it’s just not going to work on its own. The whole advertising game is in a state of flux. It’s changing. And people are starting to mistrust what’s put in front of them – especially online.
We recommend that you don’t rely only on paid advertising as your sole marketing strategy.
(It is worth remembering that paid advertising shows up as paid on most platforms – so that alone can sometimes reduce its influence in the wrong context.)
You can earn influence
You can earn influence by investing in supportive content, and maximise it with good SEO. It’s a long game, but it returns well over time.
(Beware of people telling you that Google is so smart you don’t need to do SEO – ask them for their evidence base. We see measurable ranking shifts every time we onboard a customer – so if there is contrary evidence, we’d like to know about it.)
There’s nothing wrong with buying some awareness, but it has to be backed up with a strong organic presence. This means starting with a compelling story, a clear message and a real brand. Then following through with engaging content on the right platforms targeting the right audience – at the right times.
The best strategy is to invest in both – helpful, supportive content that explains your business offer and its benefits PLUS targeted advertising in support of particular campaigns and promotions.
How do you maximise the return on your SEO investment?
The starting point isn’t technical, nor is it a bathtub full of random content.
It’s mostly about how well you’ve done your marketing ‘homework’:
- How well do you know your ideal customers and what drives them?
- How do they describe the benefits they are ready to give you money to deliver?
- What are the questions they’re typing into the search engines that could bring them to your website?
With this information, we can research the right keywords and develop the best strategies to improve your rankings and get you found.
This isn’t just a numbers game – it’s also about relevance.
The quality of the customer you will attract depends on the clarity of your value proposition and how well you talk your customer’s language. Get this sorted and you’ll attract more of the right visitors and less of the wrong visitors (time-wasting tyre-kickers and bounces that work against your overall ranking).
Your traffic over time influences your ranking
Traffic is a Google signal – wherever it comes from.
Genuine organic traffic is less in volume but more valuable – because you’ve attracted someone who cares. It’s particularly valuable when your visitors stay and engage on your website.
Paid traffic that brings you lots of the wrong visitors who bounce will cost you. It may even negatively affect your rankings.
Your visitors are increasingly savvy – and suspicious
In the print media space, readers learned the difference between a billboard and a news article. And how to spot the advertorial “articles” that weren’t really independent content.
The online audience is more discerning now – and much more aware of implicit advertising. There are people who will read a great article – but won’t share it just because they know it’s paid.
The growth of “influencers” has an up-side. Online audiences are developing a real craving for transparency and genuine, considered, valuable content.
So go back to basics
Ask yourself “What are the legitimate nuts and bolts of our offering? How do we prove in multiple forms that a) it’s real and b) that it works?”
Remember that (probably since the first cavemen swapped a stone axe for a fur blanket) people do business with people.
You can’t just push your product any more – you have to give it an authentic human face.
Did you know that 65% of our client base who pay for SEO also do content? And they also invest in PPC. There is no silver bullet, guaranteed single answer. Test and measure and find the right combination that works for you in your market.
You can buy traffic – but not trust
You can buy influence to attract people – but to keep it you have to earn it with helpful, supportive content and clear, authentic branding. Then you need to optimise it – that way SEO crawlers have absolute clarity.
That’s how you develop a sustainable online presence for the long term.
Listen to this Hacker Moment on Earned Influence with Ian Hopkinson, the original Digital Mad Scientist.
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