I am a believer of a never-ending learning. I think everyone around us and everything we engage with can or most likely will teach us a new skill, attitude, approach, perception or even vision. It is always very exciting to find something new out. On other hand, as a professional I am perceived as an expert who doesn’t need to go and learn more but has all the answers. Let me assure you that no one has ALL the answers; however professionals like myself almost always know where and how to find these answers.
In the course of my work I’ve been asked on multiple occasions “How do you find things out?” or “How do you keep a track of what’s happening?” I don’t have any secrets, I simply listen, read, try and review.
There are so many sources of free information nowadays that it can be as harmful as it is beneficial. I often follow people I trust and find useful. I don’t actually stalk them of course but I follow their blogs, articles, social media, occasionally dropping an e-mail with questions or feedback. I often bump into interesting things or people. My co-industry friends send me links or invite me to curious events. I certainly subscribed to the sources I want to keep in touch with regularly and I visit others when ever I feel like I need to read up on something.
The need to learn itself something usually pushes you to find the answers – use your instinct, network, compare and read. Don’t disregard other people’s opinion but don’t be fooled by it either. Listen and watch others, evaluating, criticizing and trying their ways out.
I’ve been lucky to work with one of the co-working & networking spaces in Sydney where I am privileged to get into discussions and debates with other business owners on regular basis, learning their opinions on digital marketing. My recent top four debates with other marketers and business owners happened to be within the following topics: quality content, business structures, finding customers and of course “SEO is dead”. I want to share the information I found useful, interesting and exciting as a result of my networking experience. The subjects might seem like they are not related to one another but don’t be fooled. Learning is the key to any success and I am here to share my tools and knowledge with everyone happy to participate in learning.
Pitching Your Passion
LinkedIn has been good to me since the day I started paying more attention to the Beast. It is a powerful and expanding tool for anyone searching or offering (whatever it is). I’ve bumped to Heather Lloyd-Martin who is running her SEO Copywriting business in the USA. Her persona initially caught my attention because of her recent article “The SEO content writers’ manifesto” which I felt like sharing with you guys:
She has outline what we, writers, do but so simple, easy and cheerful that I felt like I am, in fact, failing in my “So what do you do, Anna?” answer every single time. It is not that easy to perfectly describe your profession especially if it lays in so many different sub-industries or levels within one field. Pitching yourself as well as simply telling your story isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It can be definitely taught and learnt; however it is a torture for some. Writers often find it easy and pleasurable to write about themselves as well as other matter. This is exactly why I find it very important to outsource your business’s writing side to a writer. Everyone I dealt with so far see writing as a nightmare. I feel their pain because I go through just the same horror when tax season comes.
Loving what you do makes your business special. If you are selling chairs and dreading a thought of running a blog news / tips about them, make yourself a favor – outsource the bloody writing.
Listen to Instincts, not ‘Experts’
I do fail to explain what I do fairly often. I attribute it to my lack of sales skills or the absence of sales person inside me. I was pleased to discover Melanie Miller and her “You’re Screwed” The Top 50 Mistakes Women Make in Business understanding that I am not alone. If you love your business but hate to market it do not drown it, outsource it to someone who loves to market.
I must say I enjoyed how Melanie met the dots between our passion and the ability to sell it. Her book available online so if you have spare couple of hours and no spare dollars (kidding) I would recommend you have a read. It took me couple of train / bus trips to complete it. I am sure you can do it to!
I must say some of her tips were so simple yet often forgotten which I found very useful to read about to sort of remind myself of them. For example, do you always remember WHY you initially decided to be self-employed? The answer to it often ignites motivation or gives answers to many puzzled questions. Another favorite chapter of mine is the one mentioning that everyone is an expert, whether they really are or not. Everyone will always give their advice whether we asked for it or we didn’t. However often all of these good will proposals and suggestions can harm our vision and business as a result. Don’t follow blind advice! Do YOUR homework! I want to grab your attention here reminding that not doing your homework results in bad decisions. Unfortunately I am not the best example of, for example, working on documentation, I’ve learnt that following a very good friend’s advice or many friends’ advice can make us feel confident about our decision… most likely wrong decision. Fortunately, you can learn from my mistakes. I’ve talked to several business owners who were very certain that search engine optimisation is dead because most of other business owners shared their opinion. You wouldn’t take a loan based on your friend’s advice about the current interest rate, wouldn’t you?! Why would you than trust them with other business decisions?
Behavioral Segmentation Watch
And of course, Sochi 2014! One of the most discussed topics today is Olympic Games happening right now. I don’t have a single day when people don’t ask me “are you watching the Games”. Well, not really!
I am though watching the media exposing the Games, newspapers covering it and people referring to it. Olympic Games, similarly to any other important for the majority event, is a perfect soil for a well planned marketing or a public relations campaign. No matter what you are selling or offering you can somehow (but please appropriately) relate to what’s happening today attracting traffic. Valentines Day, Mardi Gras , Anzac Day or Labor Day are the days businesses must be ready for, in advance. I would have been already planning my New Years campaign in couple of months if I were you.
“SEO is dead”
As I keep being bombarded with opinions on the SEO ‘recent funeral’, I keep researching into it meeting more people proving the rumors wrong. The other day I met the Australian Web Marketers‘ director. Inevitably we got caught in a conversation about SEO and where the modern digital marketing is heading to.
Without trying to advertise the guys I just want to mention what they do so I make more sense explaining my point of view. Australian Web Marketers specialise in creating professional websites that generate sales and rank high on Google by implementing all the crucial components of building a good website including design, SEO and marketing. As an SEO practitioner and a former SEO/copywriters team’s member (digital agency) I’ve noticed that many businesses struggled to rank after,as they thought, all the SEO steps were implemented and tested. Well, you wonder why? All the struggling web sites had the worst I’ve ever seen navigation, lacked their contact details or were overly complicating increasing their bounce rate. I cannot stress enough how important your site is but not just the colors and the looks, ALL the components co-working together is what you need for SEO to work.
With the Hummingbird nestling cozily we need to make sure that our web sites are consistent, relevant and easily found. This is what SEO does whether you like it or not. With the update, Google can now better answer those longer-tail queries even if a page is not optimised for them. Accordingly, some pages may have a better chance of being found for certain queries now. Does it make your business suffer or simply makes it easier for the right people to find you? Yes it might be more difficult to cheat but if you are up for a long term success, play by the rules and keep up to date with the information and you will be sweet.
Here are some tips from Marketing Land I am impatient to share:
- Mobile SEO: Undoubtedly, conversational search is driven in part by the way people search when on their mobile devices. So, mobile optimisation is going to continue to be critical.
- Structured Data Markup: Providing search engines with as much information as possible about your page content helps them do their job better. Structured data can also improve click-through rates in the search results when displayed in rich snippets. Providing relevant and useful content is important – it directs your visitors and builds your reputation up. If you are still thinking blogging is a waste of time and pretty but empty website is good, you are most likely wasting your money. Moreover, writing content is crucial not for people only but for Google to make sense of your pages. Simple as that!
- Google+: Google’s social network is essential in helping to identify your online brand, connecting it with concepts and serving your content in the Google results. Look, I get it, it is a Google’s product and no wonder they will be pushing it. A friend or mine who is a new business venture’s manager once said “none of my friends are using it. Why bother getting your brand out there?” Well, to start with Google+ is a PART of Google and we are trying here to rank in Google. Do I make sense now?
- Links: Google may not want SEOs obsessing over PageRank data, but that doesn’t mean links are irrelevant. Links help Google put concepts together on the Web; they also send strong signals to Google about the credibility of your page. I have linked the information above to the site I found it on because I a) giving them the credit for it (I am not the author), b) linking to a useful for my readers source, c) citing a relevant site and d) helping Google to make sense of my blog. Don’t be shy to share my link of course!
- Keyword Optimisation & Content Creation: Nowadays, it seems there is a lot of debate over the usefulness of focusing on keywords. But keywords are not dead. Quality content is crucial, and that includes at least some level of keyword optimisation. In other words, we are still using WORDS to Google things as much as our customers using words to search for us. You don’t need to wear a black hat to help your customer find you.
SEO is not dead, it is misunderstood and misinterpret. If you are seeing SEO’s ghosts all over your office, you’ve probably been wearing a black hat for too long. Don’t hate the system – learn how to operate within it, learn and educate yourself, don’t allow others to tell you what to do. Don’t be afraid to seek a professional help but also make sure you form your own opinion.