There’s a saying that’s been doing the rounds for a while: ‘the best place to hide a body is on page 2 of Google’. But that’s not necessarily true anymore.
SEO is one of those terms that everyone talks about in planning meetings as if it’s the holy grail of marketing. But as more and more people become digitally astute, the value of SEO is being diminished. You see; SEO was never a genuine measure of popularity, quality or effectiveness. It was just another means for the marketers to trick audiences and clients’ to a certain extent, into believing a brand was successful. Think of it like this, you can be on the front page of the London Times if you really want to be and are prepared to pay enough. It’s the same with Google’s front page.
I don’t mean to sound cynical, but how many of us actually trust search engine results anymore? We all know that the brands at the top of the page are only there because they have paid to be. So what do we do – we ignore them. Outcome – brand advantage instantly lost.
So what can brands do to regain the advantage? Well the answer really isn’t all that difficult. All you need is a simple upgrade to your CEO (Customer Experience Optimisation). Treat your customers like real people and not just faceless analytics. Respect them and their opinions and ensure that all of your employees are equipped and motivated to be effective brand ambassadors.
It all sounds so obvious yet you’d be surprised how many brands overlook it. SEO is important – but it’s only one piece in a much bigger puzzle that is making brand teams all over the world re-examine their communications strategies.
In the past, some brands followed the philosophy: ‘Build it and they shall come.’ But that’s a route to failure. Brands need to think beyond Google and SEO and look to creating consistent customer touch-points across multiple channels. Think of it as laying the breadcrumbs that will guide visitors to your site with tasty content – you might even discover along the way that your brand doesn’t need a ‘website’.
‘Oh no he didn’t!’ Oh yes he did! Companies and brands can survive and succeed without a traditional website format. Now this is normally the point you’d expect me to start quoting some other brand that has trialled life without a site. Well I’m not. I’m going to quote our own experience. When we launched The Mission Control Communications earlier this year, we did it without a site.
Heresy I hear digital gurus cry. But guess what – it worked! I mean it really worked. Within a few months we’d picked up four international accounts without the help or need of a website.
How you might wonder? Well we did something pretty revolutionary. We reached out to people using things like good old fashioned, creative direct mail and we went to meet them in person. It turns out that people actually appreciate that sort of thing.
You see, when you get down to it, terms like B2B infer a very cold form of business relationship that is distant and impersonal – added to by the fact that companies and brands often have no idea of who they are actually working with other than some name on a suppliers list and the occasional email or phone call.
But when a company sees that you’re prepared to make the effort and in some instances, travel halfway round the world to meet with them and get to know them, that shows trust and commitment.
They see that you are just as committed to making their brand work as they are. You also get to know them as people. You break through that self-imposed barrier that keeps everyone at arms length and by default, that leads to a much more open and effective working relationship.
But back to my point – our experience proves that not every business model needs a website. In many respects and for all their protestations, website are going the way of the traditional corporate brochure. They are an indulgence in an age of increasingly short attention spans and increased distractions. In truth, as a brand, you’re lucky to get your audiences attention for more than a few seconds and you really need to work for even that.
Thinking digitally, look at the other platforms that are relevant to your audience and allow you to stay relevant. There’s no shortage of options from the usual suspects including Facebook, Linked in and Twitter, to Snapchat, Pinterest, etc.
So my advice is this, if your planning on hiding a body on Google, put it is in one of the sponsored Ads at the top of the page. When was the last time you looked there for anything?