Google may dominate search, but it doesn't have to dominate your Internet marketing program. Here's why.

As a frequenter of online forums, I am concerned to see so many newbie entrepreneurs so dangerously invested in their Google rankings. While no one likes to watch their rankings drop like a stone from a top ten position, facing negative profits and the sleepless nights that follow thereafter is entirely unnecessary. Fact is, no marketer in his right mind should ever take a search engine ranking to the bank.

Yet the "search engine sweat" is really just a metaphor for the bigger problem of small business owners putting too much stock in one or two marketing tactics, failing to recognize that smart marketing is about strategy, not tactical ping pong. It is about finding that sweet spot where risk and reward align with the ideal profit margin according to your long term goals as an entrepreneur.

I conduct all of my business on the ‘net—there is not a local client in site. However, the successful marketing of my practice online is not predicated on a top spot in Google. Nor does my marketing ROI wholly depend on a jazzy website with all lots of cool Flash doo-dads.

My point is that no single marketing tactic should make or break your Internet business. That is poor planning, whether you do business on-line or off. Top ten rankings, newsletters, networking, pay-per-click ads, link campaigns, e-courses … the list is a mile long. The list of permutations and combinations of such marketing tactics available to you is even longer.

The trick is to know with absolute certainty where you desire your business to be—tomorrow, next month, next year, when you retire and yes, at your funeral. Then, once you've internalized your business goals to where they are nothing short of gospel, you can strategize the optimal combination and implementation of marketing tactics, tactics that will work in sync to send a clear, memorable message about the solutions you sell.

Then monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of each tactic along with its ability to give momentum to each of your other tactics. As soon as you discover that a marketing tool isn't working for you, fix it or ditch it. Simple as that. If each of us scrutinized our marketing ROI with as much zeal as we do our Google rankings, we'd all have a little more money in our jeans.

There are no gimmes in this game despite Internet mythology abound. Even the gurus of "passive income" work diligently at maintaining their message and its online reach. Google is not the only way to stay in front of your target market. So stop lusting over rankings and start thinking strategically, even if you have to pretend you just built your own brick and mortar widget shop.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

April 25, 2006

Karri Flatla is a business graduate of the University of Lethbridge and principal of snap! virtual associates inc., a virtual consulting firm providing business communications and Internet marketing services to the progressive entrepreneur. Karri also produces Outsmart, the email newsletter for small business with big purpose. Visit for more information. Click to follow Karri on Twitter.

Search Engine Guide > Karri Flatla > Think Strategically and Avoid the Search Engine Sweat