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Search marketing is like dating

From across the room, you see…THE ONE. Wow. Your heart goes pit-a-pat at the sight. Immediately, your thoughts start racing. You are ready to do anything, be anything to be attractive to that one person you are fixated on. Is that the right approach? You probably know that it’s not the right approach in dating, but did you know that it fails in search marketing, too?

You know it doesn’t work with dating because if you are literally willing to do anything, that includes projecting a completely false image of who you are. It’s one thing to put your best foot forward, but it’s quite another to twist yourself into a pretzel to attract someone. When you do, two possibilities exist, both bad:

  • You get rejected. Despite your best efforts to attract THE ONE, nothing works. You tried everything and you are still without your dream date.
  • You succeed. Now, I know this seems like a good thing, but in the long run, it isn’t, because if you’ve morphed yourself to be attractive, your dream date is not actually attracted to you. The attraction is to this made-up person that you’ve become, and eventually the truth will out, and you’ll get rejected.

I’m not telling you this because I’ve suddenly fancied myself writing advice to the lovelorn. No, all these things you know about dating apply to search marketing, too, but most people don’t realize it.

When people start thinking about search marketing, Google is THE ONE and they sometimes seem ready to try just about anything to succeed. They focus on taking advice from just about anyone who seems to know what to do, and often that advice is bad.

They start by focusing on the most popular keywords. They plaster them onto their pages and wait for that great traffic to come. And one of two things happen, both of which are bad. They might get no traffic at all. Or they might get traffic, but from all the wrong people.

They also spend a lot of time trying to outfox Google–chasing the algorithm, it’s called. Whatever some expert says that Google wants, that’s what they do. No matter that the algorithm changes so frequently that only a true expert can keep up. They are willing to do whatever it takes to attract Google.

In dating, I hope someone gave you the advice to be yourself because you want to attract the right kind of attention from the right people. It’s worthless to act like someone you’re not because you’ll attract someone interested in some other kind of person. Worse, the people who would be attracted to the real you never figure it out.

Search marketing is no different. It’s fine to pay attention to search optimization. It’s a good idea to do keyword research and use those words on your pages, but only the ones that really match what you sell. If you are willing to do anything to get search traffic, you just end up looking desperate, and you attract all the wrong elements, just like in dating. And the people really looking for you won’t find you–and they are the ones who buy.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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