A little over a year ago I developed the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing as a way to transform traditional, rankings based search engine optimization into a service that seeks to fully meet a clients online marketing needs. While SEO itself is really not much more than the manipulation of a site to achieve better search engine exposure and rankings, SEO as a service should be much more.
Search engine optimization should be about how helping businesses succeed online with search engine exposure being a component to achieve success, but not the measure of success itself. After all, running radio and TV ads isn't just about getting airplay, but it's about running ads that will be effective at driving traffic and increasing business. But where SEO and other forms of offline advertising differ is that SEO cannot stand alone from the core business. It is intertwined.
Unfortunately, in the past, SEO campaigns were run as if they were simply radio or TV spots. They were either effective at driving traffic or not, but what happened after the ad ran (or the rankings achieved) was up to the business. While this is still partly true in that the business owner does have to take responsibility in converting their traffic to sales, SEO that is solely focused on achieving top search engine rankings can actually conflict with the goals of the business. The result is the reduction of conversion rates and loss of sales.
The "rankings at all cost" mentality needs to be thrown out like last month's leftovers that's made its way to the back of the fridge. It's a stale and moldy strategy that simply stinks up the web.
On the other hand, SEO that seeks to improve search engine placement without compromising the integrity of the website is what Destination Search Engine Marketing is all about. In fact, it's about the merging of both on-site optimization and total customer satisfaction so not only can a site achieve top search engine placement, they've actually earned the right to be there.
It's not a fluke, it's not a mistake, and it's not a manipulation of the algorithm. It's a site that has been crafted in such a way that it deserves top placement in the search results.
This is a very key questions for anybody looking to market their website online. Notice my choice of words here. I didn't ask about getting top search engine rankings; instead, I asked about earning them. That's a key distinction between standard SEO and Destination SEM. We're not trying to "get" anything that isn't deserved. Instead, we are trying to achieve a result by earning our way there.
So the question is, how do you earn rankings? Well, there are a lot of ways to answer that question. How you answer it depends on your industry, your business, and what it is about you that makes you different from your competitors.
But first let's back up. Let's assume for a second that you were asked by Google why you deserve to be #1. How would you answer? When I ask this question of potential clients here are a few standard answers I get:
The problem is, none of these are valid reasons to justify achieving a #1 search engine ranking. Sure they all have merits, but those merits don't translate into deserving better rankings than your competitors.
Lowest prices? Sorry, but just about everybody makes that boasts. And even if yours truly are the lowest today, there is no guarantee they'll be the lowest tomorrow. More to the point, prices are not an indicator of quality. You can have the lowest prices and still have a poor business model, poor quality products or services, poor customer service and just generally be a bad place to buy from. No, you'll have to do better than that.
Better customer service? This is another boast that not only can't be substantiated very well (except via word of mouth) but that almost anybody can claim, whether it's true or not. The problem I have about using that as a distinguishing selling point is that customer service is kinda like insurance. It's great to have but most people don't want to use it. For the most part, customer service is sought out once something has gone wrong, sometimes terribly so. I believe in great customer service, and it can be a good selling point, but that alone is not enough to justify top rankings.
Business longevity? Now this one does actually tell us a bit about you. If you've been in business longer than most in your industry it says that you've got a pretty good business model and know enough about your stuff to weather the test of time. In fact, Google even looks at longevity as a ranking factor. But longevity doesn't mean that you're better or more deserving. It just means you're good enough. That can help get notices, but doesn't automatically make you #1.
No one does it better? This is a good argument for deserving top rankings. The problem is, just how do you prove that? And how to you make a search engine understand that? Knowing that you do it better than anyone else isn't enough for the search engines. But if your customers know it then the search engines will be able to figure it out from the word of mouth you're generating online. But until your customers say enough about you, you won't convince the search engines to give you that top spot.
In order to earn top search engine rankings you have to think beyond the search engine itself. Simply put, the search engines want to reward sites that are rewarded by the online community. They don't want to give top rankings because you manipulated your website to match their algorithm the best, they wants to award it to you because the online community believes you deserve to be there.
Over the next few weeks I'll continue to discuss the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing. I'll further explain what it is and how you can build a "Destination Website". I'll explain the seven building blocks of a destination website that help you create a search engine optimization campaign that doesn't compromise your ability to build a strong, healthy business for the sake of short-term search engine rankings. You'll learn how you can truly deserve top search engine rankings by building a website, and a business, that is the go-to destination for your target audience.
Read more about Destination Search Engine Marketing:
Seven Building Blocks of a Destination Website
#1: Expert Information
#1b: Seven Types of Expert Information
#3: Website Design
#4: Unique Value Proposition
#5: Time and Presence
#7: Trust and Credibility
Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.
If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.
Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.
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