The debate about the term “SEOer” has been going on for some time. Do I do SEO, or am I an online marketer? Honestly, the term SEO is has become almost like a generic trademark in that when people say SEO, they are likely referring to online marketing or overall online performance—which, coincidentally, is how I view it.
In regards to a concrete definition for SEO, the conversation usually stops at link acquisition and content creation (two very important aspects of the process). However, my conversations with clients often go far beyond that. My clients come to me for help, sometimes like beggars with open hands looking for everything I can give them. Because I feel personally responsible to them for their success, I try to give them everything I can. At that point, my role evolves to include User Interface design (UI) and User experience (UX). These are not my areas of superior expertise or training, but being heavily involved in the industry, I am in a very good position to help the client understand the foundational principals that should be considered in both of those areas.
Above and beyond?
In addition, a basic SEO strategy would obviously include some amount of reporting (at the least, keyword rankings and traffic numbers); however, I find myself analyzing the data to help my client better understand their demographic. Where are visitors accessing the site from, when do they access the site, and what are they specifically looking for when they are on the site? All of these questions—and more—are in hopes of helping them identify new ways to effectively reach their customer base and ultimately make them more successful. This is likely unnecessary for large companies with armies of analysts or dollars at their disposal, but not so for the entrepreneur or start-up–the companies that are the life-blood of this country.
Marketing for me is always about thinking outside the box. When you look at it objectively, marketing–specifically online marketing–is a fairly standardized set of practices with standard if/then statements. For example, if the company has a location, then do Local, but if the company has a simple product, then engage clients in the social media space. BUT! Each client is unique, as is their customer base. Each new contract gives the opportunity for coming up with new or slightly tweaked approaches.
Making things interesting
Right now many of my tests are related to “how can I take an otherwise dry subject and make it interesting—not just to the immediate customer base but the general reader?” For instance, an example that comes to mind is garage doors. Good luck making that interesting, right? Well, what if instead of talking about technical load capabilities of the door or insulation specifications, you found applications of garage doors that were truly unique. Perhaps sponsor a contest where people can submit doors they have seen that are out-of-the-box (like a library painted on the door). That contest would get some good social interaction as well as gather up some nice links from relevant sites.
A Few Ideas
With Google’s crack-down (if you will) on link acquisition, the process for getting high-quality links these days is becoming more and more out-of-the-box. The questions I find myself asking are:
Q: How can I get a spark from content of this subject?
A: Oftentimes just think of roundabout ways to write content that involves the end user
Q: What places can I reach out to, to place this content?
A: Start with obvious industry locations, but if we go back to the garage doors bit, look at home builder blogs, DIY blogs, creative design blogs, automotive blogs, etc.
Q: Who can I connect with about my product that would be willing to run with it?
A: Well, who is passionate about this product or service?
I recently went through this with a packaging material manufacture (thrilling, right?). Part of
what they were working to accomplish was to tout their ability to create less shipping waste. As it turns out, there are several users on YouTube (with a considerable following) that have created and posted videos about ridiculous packages they received (e.g. a shoe-sized box for two pencils). These people are suddenly easy proponents for my client and are likely willing to talk about and promote my client.
If someone says that SEO/Online Marketing is simple and straightforward, or says that it requires no out-of-the-box thinking, I would probably put my checkbook away and run! Look for someone to work WITH you who is excited about your campaign (genuinely so) and who comes up with ideas that get you excited for what they will be doing. After all, if they can’t get you excited, how on earth will they get a potential customer excited for you?