Someone once said, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” I’m certain that everyone has heard that at least once in their lifetime – probably from a parent, close friend or someone else that had their best interests at heart. In fact, I would even bet that you have probably given that same counsel to someone.
You know what I mean. It’s the “no-need-for-exercise diet pill”, or the “no-need-for-sleep energy drink”, or maybe even the “first-page-of-Google guarantee”. (By the way, there isn't really a “first page” of Google for a keyword these days. Each person can get a personalized bucket of results unique to them)
The truth is – there are no “magic beans”.
Or "magic pills" or “easy buttons”. Everything in life from which you expect to get real results requires work – hard work - and time. From the athlete who wants to compete in the Olympics to the business owner who wants to build a successful business, it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an investment and it requires long-term strategy. We all know it. Yet, everyone wants a shortcut.
Nowhere is this more true than in the online space. If you’re just now really considering your web presence and what it means to your business, then you’ve probably been looking at things like social media, email marketing, SEO (search engine optimization) and maybe even reputation management. So-called "experts" abound in these areas and they will promise you the world to be served on a silver platter.
Want a bazillion likes on Facebook? No problem.
Have a negative review on Yelp? We’ll make it go away.
Want to rank number one on Google? Consider it done.
Would you rather have a hundreds of thousands of likes on Facebook with people who have no need for your business, or 1000 likes from people who are your raving fans?
A negative review is an excellent opportunity to make it right and show the reviewer exactly how your company conducts itself. For example, a client of ours has their company president reach out to people who leave a negative comment on their Facebook page. If it is a valid complaint, he always makes it right and often turns the person into a brand ambassador.
My personal favorite though is the “number one ranking on Google”. I hear ads for this every single day on the radio. “We GUARANTEE to make you number one on Google.” First, everyone can’t be number one. Second, they don’t tell you the keyword you'll rank number one for isn't going to mean much for generating a lot of traffic because it's monthly search volume is low. If you have a number one ranking on a word that no one searches for, what do you have, really? An ego boost maybe, but that's it.
The problem with all of these things is that they focus on the wrong thing primarily because they focus on ONE thing - a short cut. A way to "game the system."
So what SHOULD you focus on?
Even Google now advises to quit focusing on keyword ranking and focus on delivering good content. Be helpful. Be truthful. Be genuine. The rest will come. In time.
If you're comparing yourself to people who have been online since the dawn of time, or at least since the dawn of the world wide web, then you're fighting a losing battle. You can't set up a website and in a short period of time expect to compete with someone who has been there for years in your same industry if they have been actively fine tuning their presence for all these years. You also can't assume they are successful in getting business from their website because you like their website.
Instead, focus on what you do best. Determine who your best clients are - the ones you love working with - and develop a persona around them. Then speak to that persona - in your blogs, your social media, on your website. Share your knowledge. Help them solve their problems.
A long-term inbound marketing strategy touches every part of your online presence. And it works – without magic (beans or otherwise). It just doesn’t happen overnight.