Most SEOs would be appalled at the title of this post: Search Engines Are NOT As Important As Many Believe They Are Because…
Because Search Engines are NOT anyone’s target audience!
It is not the search engine that reads what you post. It is not the search engine that buys products or services your business sells. You do not create content for the search engines. Your target audience is people!
I highly recommend we all stop focusing on search engine placement – which is a grand example of competition and greed because there are only so many spots on the first page – and focus on the people who are your target audience! Here are some tips on how to get started:
Although search engines are one way for your target audience to find you, they are far from being the only way. More importantly they are simply not the BEST way! The only thing that really works is word of mouth recommendations. That is so important I’m going to say it again:
The ONLY thing that REALLY works is WORD OF MOUTH RECOMMENDATIONS!
This is why businesses must be built the same way a building is built: brick by brick. Listings alone – regardless of whether they are in search engines, local directories, or anywhere else – are NOT what generates business. Recommendations from trusted sources are!
Any new business only starts growing when their existing customers are willing to recommend them to others.
Progressive online sites seek to duplicate this truth by providing easy ways to review businesses listed in their directories. Want to grow your business faster? Encourage REAL reviews. That means reviews sincerely written by actual users of your business. Not by you. Not by your PR people. By your best customers! We’ll post some ideas on how to do this in the near future.
For now, back to the subject at hand: why search engines are NOT nearly as important as we have allowed them to seem. Yes, search engines – and especially Google – are how many people find you. That is partly because so many focus on them and neglect all the other great methods available. As these other methods become more commonly known and used, search engine importance will decline.
Remember what I said about word of mouth recommendations being the only thing that really works? Think about all the ways online users could be recommending you. They will be far more effective and they are where businesses should focus their time and efforts.
We will write much more about this, but here are just a few to get you thinking:
- Reviews in Local Directories such as Yahoo! Local, Google Maps, MerchantCircle – Why pick a business out of a search engine when you can read reviews from actual users of the service or product they’re interested in?
- Social Networking Sites – Why would anyone use a search engine when they can get instant recommendations from friends and subject experts on their favorite Social Networking Site?
- Talking to their friends on Instant Messenger Services – Wouldn’t you be more likely to patronize a service or buy a product that is recommended by your friends? If you’re already chatting with them why not ask THEM who they recommend – and offer your recommendations too.
- Authority Bloggers – Life is so complicated that none of us could possibly know about everything we might want to buy, but there IS someone (or more than one someone) who is an impartial expert on just about any subject. Once you learn how to locate and discern which bloggers have credibility you can get far more information on the pros and cons of any product or service before you buy.
- Professional Reviews – There are many online sites such as epinions that solicit consumer reviews and others such as Consumer Reports that post professional reviews. Beware of sites that are actually disguised advertisements or masquerading as reviews to sell you something.
Search engines are going to continue dropping in importance – and they know it. That is why they’re buying up social networking sites. Instead of focusing time and effort on search engine positions, successful businesses will do well to focus instead on building their online reputation and increasing their incoming links and customer reviews.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: SEE THESE RECOMMENDED SEM and SEO Blogs:
- AimClearBlog – Cutting edge insights and live blogging from major Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) blogs
- AndyBeard – Another leader in the Search Marketing Industry who predicts and identifies new trends almost before they happen.
- Lee Odden’s TopRank Online Marketing Blog – One of the most established and oldest of Online Advertising blogs. Find almost all well known Search Marketing Blogs in his TopRank BIGLIST of Search Marketing Blogs
NOTE: Almost all marketing research and most SEM / SEO company base their recommendations on what is best for Fortune 100 or Fortune 500 Corporate clients. Those recommendations are often detrimental to or less than optimum for small businesses. Advice must always be based on the unique situation of each business.