seo - marketing by another nameI recently attended BrightonSEO, a conference full of bright, young search marketing experts extolling the virtues of the latest trends in the online world with a few older and wizened marketing types among them (I’ll let you decide which category I fall into but let’s say I’m the wrong side of 30 to fit in with the majority that attended).

It’s a great conference with some dynamic speakers. It does focus on the larger companies with hefty SEO budgets but there’s always techniques to be learned and tried out for the smaller business.

So I listened as another world renowned SEO expert at the age of 25 (I’m not jealous, it’s just the way of the industry) told us the next thing to beat Google but it wasn’t until an old, decrepit person (of at least 35) walked onto the stage towards the end of the day that I really sat up and took notice.

Samuel Scott’s talk was entitled “Stop thinking about links. Start thinking about publicity”. The basic premise was, links are not something you “get.” The best links come naturally as a result of good marketing and PR. No one is disagreeing that links are an important part of getting a good ranking on Google, but it’s your approach to getting those links that you should question.

He made a strong argument for marketing your business as if the internet didn’t exist. He argues that links are actu­ally just by-products of good mar­ket­ing and pub­lic relations. If everything you do is only for the purpose of getting links, you’re doing it wrong.

What made his talk more interesting to me was he directly followed two SEO experts whose talks both focused on more traditional link building approaches – they were technical and systematic in their approach but, most importantly, there was little mention of customer’s wants or needs, or a true understanding of the market in which they operate. Instead their talks focused on how to be one step ahead of Google – learn the system and get to the top of the rankings. I’m sure their suggestions and tips work…for now, but Samuel’s argument for good marketing above the latest quick win, seems to make far more sense to me. In his words, if your SEO strategy changes every time that Google updates its algorithm, you’re doing it wrong.

So what should you as a small business owner being doing to get your business noticed online?

I strongly advocate the natural approach (after all that is in my company name). Take Samuel’s advice and market your business as if the internet didn’t exist. By that, I don’t mean completely ignore the internet and go back to the yellow pages or just newspaper advertising. It’s about getting your strategy right and then working out the means of achieving it – hopefully using the internet in an optimum way. What does that encompass:

  • Set your goals- what do you want – more sales, more leads, more followers.
  • Identity your target market
    • understand their needs and wants
    • what drives them
    • how can you reach out to them.
  • Create content that appeals to them – answers their problems, create marketing materials around that. And of course, use the internet to publish that material and reach your market using social media.
  • Think about ways you can generate publicity for your business – reach out to your network.
    • Think about what pub­li­ca­tions, web­sites, and blogs your tar­get audi­ence reads.
    • How will you “sell” your com­pany and prod­uct to those jour­nal­ists, blog­gers, and web­sites to con­vince them that you are news­wor­thy, inter­est­ing, and important?

If you get your marketing right then you will generate natural backlinks to your site as clients, your network and the media link back to you.

If you are still worried that you don’t understand the world of SEO and how to market your business online, keep it simple.

Don’t start with the internet.  First, develop a marketing strategy that will reach out to your audience.  Then get in touch with me and I can work with you or show you how to achieve those goals online (and offline).

And if you need help with your basic marketing and planning I can help with that too.  Give me a call or get in touch via the website.

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