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A Portent Epiphany!


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#1 iamlost

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Posted 22 March 2013 - 10:10 PM

My favourite short article of the month, of the year to date, is Ian Lurie's WTF is SEO?, Portent blog, 22-March-2013. Why? Because he has come around to my way of looking at SEO :D
Note: I disagree with one main point, as does Ammon Johns (Black_Knight) in the comments, but the gist of his epiphany is what I, and some few others (primarily here at Cre8!) such as Ammon, have been saying for years.

You can’t have an SEO strategy, any more than you can have a dental hygiene strategy. You execute on details, one detail at a time: You brush. You floss. You don’t gargle maple syrup.

For SEO, you target. You streamline. You make sure stuff is visible. You use the words your audience uses. You don’t build slow, lousy web sites.

Getting those details right isn’t “a strategy,” unless you want to call “Don’t be a dolt” a strategy. It’s just the stuff you gotta do right.

Strategy is an approach that includes all roles in an organization. All of the components of SEO should be part of an organization’s growth strategy.


Here is where I differ: SEO is a strategy in the sense that one sets a goal of more quality and/or quantity of search engine traffic and what SEO encompasses are methods/tactics to accomplish that. Where I certainly do agree is that SEO is not a company position/person/department but rather part of an overall holistic company marketing process/policy/mindset.


We tried to turn SEO into a discipline, with specific, unique tactics for manipulating rankings.

...By doing that, we pulled SEO off into its own distinct job description.

...We also made SEO something that had to be justified as an end in itself. We unwittingly pitted it against other corporate goals, like branding, architecture and infrastructure development.

...That’s how we fix all of this: Don’t treat SEO as a department, or even a goal. Treat it as one benefit of a truly smart marketing strategy.


Yes!
Bloody well about time that a main stream 'Internet Marketing Company' saw the light.

Five things we have to change:

1. Treat SEO as a multi-team goal, like loss reduction, risk management or communications policy.
    
2. Stop pushing companies and clients to create an ‘SEO department’ or team. Start pushing companies to apply the tactics that lead to good SEO across all departments and teams.

3. Stop talking about specific tactics strictly in terms of rankings or traffic.

4. Constantly remind yourself and your clients/bosses where SEO fits into the paid/earned/owned media world. You’re a marketer who knows a lot about SEO. You’re not “an SEO” ...

5. Always discuss SEO in context. ...include all areas impacted by, and impacting, SEO.


Ha.
Sounds a lot like conversations here at Cre8 doesn't it?
Go back a decade or more and read the topics... SEO was often being put into the wider marketing, conversion, et at context even back then.

And that is why I felt comfortable joining Cre8 after lurking for so long and why I still feel that way: an holistic approach not some paint by number fad emporium.
 

#2 jonbey

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 02:51 AM

Here's a crazy idea: why not bundle up all these terms, SEO, UX, Content, Marketing etc. and call it ..... running a website.



#3 clandestino

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 03:07 AM

I concur.

 

Yes, remove the silos.  SEO is just another marketing tool or another set of channels.  To be successful, a company needs about 14 or more separate channels both on-line and off-line.  To be successful, implement a full package of left-brain and right-brain tactics.  Create - Execute - Measure.



#4 cre8pc

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 10:48 AM

It was called "web site promotion" when I started out.  That was the birth name for these forums - Cre8pc Web Site Promotion Club.  I started teaching and writing about holistic design in 1998 - ish too.  Today, it's nearly impossible to keep up with the acronyms and split offs.  The usability industry has the same thing going on.  User experience. Service experience. Customer experience. Mapping customer experience. (Which is analytics) 

 

And now, conversions.  I'm so sick to death of that word!  It's been drummed into everyone's heads so much that selling SEO and UX and adding information architecture to that MUST contain that word.

 

SEO was often being put into the wider marketing, conversion, et at context even back then

 

I have to admit that every day I hit my head against the wall because it's obvious that even now most people and companies don't get it.  Have I been wasting my time all these years?

 

The search engine marketing industry only teaches and enforces strategy.  It's always been a numbers game, never about people.  Look at the sessions for SES NY next week.  I'm not going because I don't feel welcome there.  Shunning the human side of web site development and marketing has always been a huge mistake in my book.


Edited by cre8pc, 23 March 2013 - 11:26 AM.


#5 Black_Knight

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 04:19 PM

Yeah, that was my first thought: "Where was Ian when we were combining UI, SEO, conversions, design, and customer service every single day in the Cre8asite forums from 2003 onwards?" B:)

 

On G+ earlier when Kim shared Ian's post, I said "I think what Ian has really hit is the realisation that he is no longer just an SEO.  But that doesn't mean we have to change the definition of SEO to fit what he is now.  It means he needs to change his own title."  It isn't that SEO has changed that much, its that it no longer works in isolation.  It was never good practice to do SEO in isolation from design, conversions, captology, and user-centricity, but it could be done.  Actually, it can still be done, its just more visible that it doesn't work.

 

Ian has moved up the ladder to incorporate a broader set of skills and a broader mindset, as I think we all do over time.  Whenever someone does this, they always seem to call for a change to SEO, at least in name.  Content marketing.  Inbound marketing.  I would argue that what they really need to do is simply let go of the fixation to calling what they do just 'SEO' at all.

 

I conclude here, as on G+ with the following:

In London, at SES this year, I was on the panel "Integrated Marketing: What does it mean?", and this is precisely the issues we were discussing.  But you know what?  It is not one tiny iota different to what we called the Holistic Marketing approach way back when on Cre8asite.  SEO hasn't changed, and it doesn't need a new title.  What has changed is that it now needs to be integrated with so many other things and all tie into broader marketing.  And the only thing that is new there, to you and I, is the word 'needs'.  It was always the smart approach, and the one we advocated, way back



#6 iamlost

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 04:59 PM

Yeah, that was my first thought: "Where was Ian when we were combining UI, SEO, conversions, design, and customer service every single day in the Cre8asite forums from 2003 onwards?" B:)

 

...they always seem to call for a change to SEO, at least in name.  Content marketing.  Inbound marketing.  I would argue that what they really need to do is simply let go of the fixation to calling what they do just 'SEO' at all.

:)

 

What has been amusing - and irritating - me is not just the renaming of pre-existing practices (um, a rose by any other name...) but the accompanying broadening definition of SEO to encompass other marketing practices rather than simply admitting that SEO is just one part of web marketing. It is as if some people have so much invested in being an 'SEO' that they can not easily be something else as well. A very strange navel gazing mindset.



#7 clandestino

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 09:03 PM

:)

 

What has been amusing - and irritating - me is not just the renaming of pre-existing practices (um, a rose by any other name...) but the accompanying broadening definition of SEO to encompass other marketing practices rather than simply admitting that SEO is just one part of web marketing. It is as if some people have so much invested in being an 'SEO' that they can not easily be something else as well. A very strange navel gazing mindset.

 

It just gives them something to talk about since google says they have to publish or die.



#8 clandestino

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 09:26 PM

What is Captology?

 

Captology, I like that word.  I just signed up for Stanford's newsletter on the topic at the above link.



#9 DCrx

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 02:20 AM

Of course there is strategy. One is gaming rank. The other is earning rank.

 

Determines what details you pay attention to and use. Determines what details you ignore. Strategy determines tactics. Going one way pretty much rules out going the other way. In other words strategy is world view.

 

It only seems like there's no such thing because one is so overwhelmingly popular it's like the other doesn't exist. Except in lip service.


Edited by DCrx, 24 March 2013 - 02:55 AM.


#10 Black_Knight

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 07:34 AM

What is Captology?

 

Captology, I like that word.  I just signed up for Stanford's newsletter on the topic at the above link.

Captology is a perfect example of where strategy is applied to SEO for marketing.  We sometimes use SEO to target a customer who is researching a potential purchase, but not yet committed to buying.  The whole point of doing so is to change his future behaviour - we want to steer what he will search for when he is later ready to buy. 

 

Ideally, we are using captology so that when he is ready to buy he will search for, or navigate directly to, our website, not the broader search results for the product generally. :)



#11 DCrx

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 10:01 AM

Well, let's not start throwing captology into this.

 

It's marketing.

 

Captology would be more like getting somebody into the site at the rearch stage.And Then, converting them into a buyer. And further, focussing not on early researchers, but those on the cusp of changing into buyers. Using the site design -- not merely search results or result placement -- for the conversion. 

 

Captology means behavior influence. Research is a certain behavior. Buying is another. To change them -- by design -- is captology.

 

Another use would be, say, getting somebody who is able to be influenced into the site. Like somebody researching window blinds. And then, using education to influence a certain percentage who would only by blinds to instead by a whole window treatment.

 

Being an authority worthy of rank gets this process started. Not being one hampers it.


Edited by DCrx, 24 March 2013 - 10:02 AM.


#12 cre8pc

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 10:55 AM

Captology would be more like getting somebody into the site at the rearch stage.And Then, converting them into a buyer. And further, focussing not on early researchers, but those on the cusp of changing into buyers. Using the site design -- not merely search results or result placement -- for the conversion. 

 

Hence why just SEO or any variation of Internet marketing alone fails.



#13 Black_Knight

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 11:02 AM

Ah, your example is the more common and classic description of captology, I know.  I just don't tend to agree that it is a good one in the sense of showing real change of behaviour, or for inspiring readers here to think about the more exciting elements of Captology in marketing, rather than in Education.  Upselling, introducing time-limited offers to rush a decision ... we know these techniques all too well already.  Not much left to discuss.

 

If someone is researching a purchase, then they are in the shopping process, and moving them along that process faster isn't changing their behaviour, it is simply accellerating their behaviour.

 

The reason I used the example I did is that I wanted to show an actual change in behaviour that is genuine, and that is measurable and proven.  Preventing the behaviour of searching for a vendor once a decision is made, to selecting a vendor already seen.

 

One of the best examples of this that I often share was a twist on traditional PPC advertising some years ago.  I was working with a Mortgage lender that had some very tight budgets, and no great amount of resource allocated to the campaign.  Content marketing was going to be almost impossible on the usual level, because the client didn't have the resource commitment to allow for the provision of enough quality content to really make any difference.  Not the situation where you would usually think of pushing a client to PPC.

 

What I did as a strategy was to create just a few very powerful landing pages that were geared specifically to their most-profitable kinds of deal, and create a PPC campaign using those landing pages that was designed not to attract clicks.  Yeah, you read that right.  I deliberately made a PPC campaign that was designed not to attract visitors. :)

 

See, what I did was create PPC ads for searches relating to the property search phase of buying a house.  Specifically, I targeted certain roads, neighbourhoods and postcodes that were filled with properties of the most profitable kind that my client had a good record of closing sales on.  And those PPC listings made it clear who my company was, and that they did not offer properties themselves.  It was a pure branding campaign.  We were able to make some high bids to get great placement because we knew that clicks would be almost nothing.  We didn't even have to worry about click fraud really, as the people competing on those terms did not see us as a competitor (we didn't sell property), and our competitors were focusing on selling mortgages, not looking at who ranked for property searches. ;)

 

What happened was that people searching for property of a certain kind would eventually find something interesting and be ready to look at mortgages seriously, and one company was 'top of mind'.  They knew it must be a good company because they had the feeling they'd been seeing it mentioned everywhere.  Instead of searching for a mortgage lender, many of those people came straight to the site, or searched directly for the brand name.  Huge win.  By understanding usual shopping behaviours, and changing it.  That is captology, even if not the 'classic' example.

 

Anyway, sorry to take it off topic.



#14 DCrx

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 03:30 AM

I will say SEO has developed something far better than Captology. My only suggestion being the FDA should regulate it like an addictive drug. It's worse than heroin. And more mind warping than LSD.



#15 cre8pc

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 11:01 AM

I brought this topic to G+, where there are 20 comments so far (including more from Ammon and me - https://plus.google....sts/bzm9Z8CEHz6



#16 clandestino

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 04:09 PM

Of course there is strategy. One is gaming rank. The other is earning rank.

 

Everyone talks about strategy as though strategy = my site vs. google. 

 

Shouldn't strategy really be pointed at you're competitors?  Shouldn't strategy about this?  -->

 

Deny the Competition Search Results for Their Core Keywords & Take Their Market Share

 

Rather than a random attempt to rank for keywords that some tool says will deliver traffic, wouldn't you rather rank for keywords and put your competition out of business at the same time?  Wouldn't that add to your gain -- as your competition succumbs to poor cash flow they usually cut customer service which gives you a way to diferentiate your company.  Finally, they go out of business and their customers, with the right marketing strategy, will show up at your website.

 

Or, strategy could be about mitgating risk, rather then keywords.  As @imalost often says, diversify your marketing channels away from google lest you wake up one day very disappointed that you don't have enough revenue to pay your bills.  Or, maybe build search traffic in Canada knowing that when the US market is down, the Canadian market is up and the dollar becomes much cheaper for Canadians to buy (has to do with the fact that Canada is a net exporter of oil to the US).

 

Aren't those the things that are strategic?  Isn't SEO just about improving the efficiency of a marketing channel which is on-line search, optimizing it if you will.  And, the rest of it, isn't it just basic marketing?

 

To me chasing keywords is random and will get you random results.  Strategy defines a plan to dominate the marketplace -- a process that can be defined, measured and with which known outcomes can be acheived.

 

???



#17 clandestino

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 04:22 PM

What happened was that people searching for property of a certain kind would eventually find something interesting and be ready to look at mortgages seriously, and one company was 'top of mind'.  They knew it must be a good company because they had the feeling they'd been seeing it mentioned everywhere.  Instead of searching for a mortgage lender, many of those people came straight to the site, or searched directly for the brand name.  Huge win.  By understanding usual shopping behaviours, and changing it.  That is captology, even if not the 'classic' example.

 

Excellent example, thank you for sharing that.  I like this concept of Captology, the neuro-science of conversion.

 

I have spent a lot of time following Robert Cialdini, Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive.  He doesn't talk about on-line neccesarily but the reasearch is easily adapted.  He's a Professor of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University.  His book is based on research rather than anecdotal.  I think you would find it interesting.  He has another called, Influence.

 

Maybe I'll start another thread on Captology after I've had a chance to look it over.

 

You never know what you will learn on any given forum day. :)

 

Back to SEO and strategy.......


Edited by chuckfinley, 25 March 2013 - 04:28 PM.




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