With increasing innovations, digital technology puts increasing power into the individual’s hands. They are able to market themselves on the Internet. Thus, those who can attract and retain a loyal online following will also be able to make a decent living online.
Entrepreneurs should think of themselves as not only entrepreneurs but also marketers. Because there is a difference between having a product or service and selling one.
The Struggle of How to Build an Audience
For a long time, we’ve been trying to figure out how to get a continuous flow of organic traffic. Without any advertising.
In the process, we realized that we’ve had the most success when we did two things:
- developed keyword-optimized content ahead of time, and
- set up to publish it at a set rate within a set time frame.
Those are, actually, the fundamentals of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). They are the key to getting web traffic, which is the key to getting sales for whatever it is that you’re selling. We focused on guerilla marketing because we started building this company from less than nothing.
We didn’t start off with $50,000 dollars of marketing capital for things like pay-per-click (PPC) ads and such. Instead, we started off with $0 and a lot of determination.
So, we had to focus on how to build a functioning website that generates income with almost nothing to work with as an investment other than our minds and willingness to work.
We figured that SEO was the key to our dreams, but after…
- researching countless contradictory opinions by varying marketing moguls,
- thoroughly reading and annotating several books on the issue,
- getting a formal college education in Internet marketing,
- seeking the consult of university professors,
- beating our heads against the wall at the monotony of dropping links in comments,
- and scouring search-engine results to send out link-request e-mails that are never returned
… we came to the conclusion that no one completely understands the full breadth of SEO (no matter what they claim) except for the algorithm designers at Google itself. But they keep the absolute truth of such processes secret. For understandable and utilitarian reasons.
SEO Is Like the Search for Enlightenment
Google is aiming to curate content based on relevancy, truth, and human connection.
Thus, the pursuit of mastery in SEO is akin to a Buddhist’s pursuit of enlightenment. Because to be a master of SEO is apparently to be a master of relevancy, truth, and human connection in one’s own content.
For any content creator to say to themselves that they’re going to set out on the journey to master SEO is tantamount to saying that they’re to set out on the journey to master themselves in their own content.
Sure, there are techniques for bettering one’s SEO. These can be meta-tags, the robots.txt file, or link-building e-mail campaigns. But, the vast majority of “techniques” are a matter of common sense in the grand scheme of things:
- write well and often for your target audience, and
- be mindful of what they type into search engines as you write.
Don’t Expect Instant Success
Post your content in relevant social media groups. If your content is good enough and beneficial to your target audience, they will share it and link to it on their own. The links they build for your content will boost your rankings—and that’s about it.
The true problem is not with Google or other search engines. The true problem is with our individual desires for instant gratification.
We don’t want to hear that we to take the time to develop an impressive portfolio of unique content. Or that we should show the patience it takes to slowly watch our numbers of subscribers multiply over time. Or to face the fact that our content may not be high-enough quality or thought-provoking, and to go back to the drawing board.
What we want is to write one article, hit “publish”, and then watch as thousands of engaging readers flock to our site. We want to go to bed, wake up in the morning, and log on to see that all of a sudden, we went viral. That we have 80,000 followers at our beck and call, ready to buy whatever it is that we want to sell them.
It is theoretically possible to get results like that with a pay-per-click campaign. To publish one article and then promote it to thousands of people as a funnel that continuously brings in subscribers in record time…
…but that costs money, and lots of it.
If you’re like us, you don’t have that kind of money to blow on something that you’re not even sure may pay off. Because if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could waste thousands of dollars…in seconds.
We tend to latch on to the few inspirational stories of overnight viral successes. We do it because it gives us hope that it’ll happen to us.
But we should remember that for every single story of overnight viral success there are literally millions of others who have failed. Astronomical chances are against you in that regard.
Yes, you can reach the point where you can hit “publish” and your content goes viral on its own. But that’ll be after you’ve already put the work in to build the audience that would willingly share it, to begin with. There are no actual short-cuts.
Unless you have serious cash for advertising, true SEO with social media marketing is a long grueling uphill battle. It gets easier after a certain point, but not when you first start.
But we don’t want to hear that.
And because we don’t want to hear it, this makes us easily seducible by marketers with large followings claiming to know the path of the quick-fix.
Quick Fixes Don’t Work in Marketing
In actuality, they’re preying upon that desire for instant gratification that they know you have. They ask you to exchange your email for an 80-page e-book filled with information that you either already knew or would have figured out on your own with enough persistence.
That marketer is smart enough to play emotions in that way. And the quick-fix answer is in high demand. Because of that, it’s easy for them to develop sizable followings in a short time. It makes them seem legit—but they aren’t. Watch out for those.
Meanwhile, those in the few cases that do hit the Internet jackpot don’t know exactly how they did it. They also wouldn’t be able to reproduce the same exact result at will. No matter how hard they’d try.
Of course, there are aspects of content creation that improve one’s chances of going viral. But those are only chances—it’s not an exact science.
Nor do the powers that be behind the management of the search engines want it to be an exact science. Because the moment the code is cracked, SEO becomes clearly methodological. And it’s the moment the processes become abused and spammed.
No One Fully Knows SEO
Never believe anyone who tells you that they’re complete professional masters of SEO. Unless their product is to help you become the best, most helpful, informative, and credible version of yourself over time with something legitimately beneficial to give to mankind, which is what helps you market your product or service with a blog.
That’s the elusive and mystical secret of SEO. Don’t over-think it the way that we did for two straight years of trial and error. If you focus solely on SEO, you’ll lose it. If you focus on great, frequent content, the benefits of SEO will come without you even having to try.
It’s essentially comparable to the laws of attraction and seduction.
Marketing Is Seduction
The Internet is about links, and links are about relationships, correct? At least, so says Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who is the inventor of the Internet as we know it.
So, if you want is a relationship with an audience, then you have to approach the situation the same way you would as if you were to build a connection with a real person…
…because they are real people.
Develop Your Inner Game
If you focus on getting the mate of your dreams without working on yourself first, they’ll elude you. Or you won’t be able to keep them when you find them. If you focus on becoming the mate of their dreams, by improving yourself and your situation, you won’t have any problem keeping them.
This does not mean to espouse the “if you build it, they will come” approach. When marketing your product or service, you still have to put your website out there.
But how hard of an effort you’ll have to put forth doing that will greatly depend upon the quality of your content. In the same way that if you become the highest quality relationship partner, you still won’t meet anyone if you never leave your house. You would need to do that either physically in person or digitally through the Internet.
Make Yourself Available to Your Target Audience
No, you have to make yourself (in this case, your product or service) available. Put it where your target audience can find it. How you do that is the same exact way you’d go about meeting people in real life. Join social media groups (on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) relative to your content, etc.
Go where your target audience is, and make yourself and your product or service available. Cultivate yourself and your product or service to be unique, attractive, and interesting. The rest will take care of itself.
The romance will happen naturally, and the relationship will build on its own. This is a concept from David DeAngelo’s Inner Game series.
See what I did there? I gave David DeAngelo a backlink without him having to ask me. David doesn’t even know that I exist. But I gave him a backlink because his content is great, speaks for itself, and is relevant to what I’m saying. See how that works? Try repeating that process: be so good that your audience cannot ignore you.
Don’t go for pickup lines that never work (the quick-fix). Instead, cultivate yourself into an admirable person with inner game. Or in this case, try building a website with content that’s beneficial and speaks for itself. Then, let the rest handle itself over time with patience and diligence.
When marketing your product or service, all you have to do to make your content available is go halfway to your audience. Meet them on social media where they hang out.
If no one takes interest in you, you’re unattractive. If people bounce off your page, they found you attractive but didn’t like your personality. All that means is that you should relax and focus on self-improvement.
Go back to the drawing board with the goal of inner development. Do so until you radiate and maintain your audience without even trying.
How have brands you like “seduced” you?
Mike Norton is an American award-winning marketing strategist with a BA in Internet marketing from Full Sail University.
He’s also a writer, entrepreneur, and a physicist studying part-time at the University of York who is a veteran of the United States military and the 7-time winner of the USS Dwight Eisenhower award for essays about world peace and respect.
As a mostly self-educated vagabond, he gains inspiration from a myriad of experiences wrought from the adventures of his nomadic lifestyle. He prolifically writes and journals where ever he goes in the world, from one country to the next.