The Future of Business Online Comes From Our Past

Many businesses are focused on the technical side of SEO, trying to gain either large increases in rankings, or striving to eke out incremental gains, knowing that ranking well equates to more traffic, sales and revenue.

Now, that technical SEO has always been important (indeed, that work WAS SEO for many years), and it will continue to need to be managed.  But pinning your hopes on technical SEO alone is a mistake.

For a year+ now you’ve been hearing how important social is to search.  How it is a signal, its importance would grow, etc.  The reality is that too many SEOs simply look at this as a signal to exploit: “…if I get more likes, I’ll rank better.”  That is short-sighted short-cut seeking and won’t prove to be an effective long term strategy.

As the engines continue to evolve, and ad more information from a variety of sources to help a searcher accomplish their tasks faster, what happens to those businesses taking shortcuts?  They fall behind.

Small, new companies embrace social to such a degree that much, if not all, of their marketing happens socially.  They stay engaged with customers, grow exponentially through word of mouth (social word of mouth) and become the headline story on tech news sites when they’re suddenly sold for big bucks…and you’ve never heard of them.

Older, established companies often end up stuck in ruts, following out-moded thinking leading to missed opportunities.  While they are embracing social in many cases, they feel it’s a push mechanism, eschewing conversations and avoiding establishing meaningful relationships.  Failing to engage will hurt more businesses in the future than failed technical SEO.  The engines will figure out the technical SEO hurdles and understand you at a level only hoped for years ago.

But failing to ignite a desire in your customers to champion you to their friends and family, well, that’s on you.

Are you winning this battle in social spaces, on community forums, in review sites, on your own blogs and in the media of your industry?

Are you even thinking holistically about your marketing program?  Or are you still segregating organic search, paid search, social media, customer service and marketing in different groups?

I was recently thinking of why the future we see coming seemed familiar.  Then it hit me.  Back in university we reviewed the origins of Marketing as part of the business program.  Funny enough, success back in the early days depended on giving a good product at a fair price – same as today.  Success also very much depended on customer service, speaking with customers, addressing issues and exceeding their expectations.  It seems to me that nearly 90 years later, we’re in exactly the same place, just using different tools.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking those tools lead to shortcuts.

Duane Forrester
Sr. Product Marketing Manager
Bing Webmaster Tools

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