By Stephanie Courtney
If you hated high school as much as the rest of us because it seemed that only the kids with flash and no substance got all the attention, then search engine optimization probably seemed like a homecoming you could only dream about. Face it; search engines became a beacon of marketing hope for those of us who have something to say rather than something to show. But, if the cold hard irony of search engine popularity is only beginning to dawn on you, it might be time to stop celebrating your Carrie-like triumph over image driven mediocrity and smell the SEO rank(ings).
LINK BUILDING – THE SAME OLD POPULARITY CONTEST
For those of us who sweated over editorials in the school newspaper that no one ever read; the supremacy of copy content and keyword phrases in online marketing seemed like the dawning of an Aquarian Age our parents could barely fathom. But, no sooner had we begun to bask in the warm rays of our brilliant keyword strategies and savvy, emotionally engaging copy, complete with pithy calls to action, but some spinach eating, Nike wearing, Tiger Woods whanabee, computer geek at Google comes up with the nightmare scenario from hell: Link Building!
Link building is a digital campaign for prom queen on a global scale at the World Wide Web School of Google. When links, like votes, determine the ‘quality’ of a Web site; is it any wonder that ‘the great and the good’ Web sites link swap like cyber swingers at a Tantric retreat? On the flip side, the alpha information sites, like the great libraries of the world, take an uber- chaste attitude about linking themselves to anything. So what does an as-yet-nameless, faceless Web site to do? Go back to school.
AN EDUCATION IN SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
Since Google rates links from ‘.edu’ sites as highly as it does, it makes sense to target those Web sites. Ask yourself what it would take to create a ‘win-win’ situation with an educational institution? At a time when community colleges, State schools and private universities are bleeding financially and looking for every kind of professional help and affiliation, wouldn’t it behoove any business person to:
- write an article for publication in the college paper (also to be posted online)
- contact the School of Business to offer yourself as a guest lecturer on ‘X kind of business as a start-up’ complete with lecture notes online
- better yet, offer an internship, post the opportunity on the school Web site, and offer a ‘Who We Are’ article to be posted as well
- the holy grail: take the money your company spends to buy links and put that into a scholarship fund at your local community college
- sponsor the purchase of equipment, software or other major assets at your local university
All for the exchange of links to your website.
Imagine the benefits – not to mention the potential social networking opportunities from the college community (depending on your Web site or product). The possibilities are endless and everybody wins. (Psst – the same can be done with non-profit ‘.org’ sites, too.)
THE SEO FINAL – IT’S ALWAYS A TRICK QUESTION
Never forget that search engine optimization is the means not the end. As a fledgling SEO Specialist, I always tell my clients that my job isn’t top SEO rankings. My job is to take a searcher and make them a customer. SEM of any kind, whether it’s natural rankings, PPC, or even link buying (heaven forbid), is only the means to put me in touch with the searcher – and that’s the beginning, not the end, of my work. My ultimate goal is to get my client’s URL on their customer’s ‘Favorites’ list – so they don’t ever have to use a search engine to find my client again.
This is an entry to Marketing Pilgrim’s 3rd Annual SEM Scholarship contest.