Posted December 8, 2008 3:21 pm by with 22 comments

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By Joe Hall

It’s time to break out the Patchouli and embrace flower power, because the future of internet marketing is with hippies! Think I am crazy? Here’s a bit of back story to explain:

About a month ago I was talking to a potential client over the phone about my SEO services. This client kept asking about targeted links, so much so that it became apparent that his whole perception of SEO was just one aspect of the overall concept. Trying to present a more rounded picture of SEO I said, “I try to take more of a holistic approach to SEO”. I immediately thought, did I just say holistic? I sound like a freaking hippie. I quickly changed the topic to something more concrete such as ROI.

Time passed and I tried to forget that I might be a SEO hippie. Then just a few days ago a tweet struck a nerve with me that I just couldn’t ignore.

Maybe, there are other SEO hippies out there just like me! I ran a quick search and discovered that yes there are other holistic wackos just like me!

The comfort in finding a common bond with other weirdos on the internet didn’t last long. I started thinking, is “holistic” really the best word to describe my SEO strategy? There are many definitions out there, but here’s my favorite:

Looking at the whole system rather than just concentrating on individual components. The overall sum can be greater than a simple totaling of the individual parts, because the “system” adds something in addition. Another term is “systems thinking”.

I think that, yes, “holistic” is the right term. However there is something wrong with the concept of holistic SEO. To think and organize with a holistic mindset, means that you are focusing on the entire system, the system as a whole. SEO is merely an individual component of Internet Marketing. Therefore the more appropriate term might be Holistic Internet Marketing.

Ok, so I might be a Holistic Internet Marketer, I can get used to that. You are probably thinking, just because your a crazy holistic hippie doesn’t mean I need to be! Think again, because the internet is changing and it is becoming increasingly apparent that marketers can no longer focus on a niche skill set.

The System is Changing

Search Personalization, Google’s Search Wiki, and Universal Search results are all things that have led people like Bruce Clay and others to say Rankings are Dead. In response, Matt Cutts says, “2009 is a year in which you can’t just think of your self as an SEO, like my job is to rank one web page for one phrase.”

Social media sites are expanding and are becoming increasingly aware of their networks being exploited for profit and are responding with tightening their networks and pushing highly sophisticated advertising models.

Mobile communication is pushing the expansion of a mobile web with new ad opportunities and content standards. Along with the expansion of the mobile web, micro-blogging has exploded as both an outlet for content and a new communication medium.

New advertising models mean that companies will continue to put advertisers first and thus put more effort into minimizing marketers ability to game the system with strategies like SEO.

All of these changes mean that internet marketers can no longer rely on one strategy to promote themselves and or clients. This is not to say that each individual aspect of internet marketing has lost significance, but rather there is now a need to diversify techniques across all aspects of internet marketing.

Follow Joe Hall on Twitter.

  • A good internet marketer should have experience and knowledge in all facets of IM but it’s tough to be an expert in any one thing when there’s so much going on. Definitely a catch 22.

    Utah SEO Pro’s last blog post..Hosting Issues and SEO – Pubcon 2008 Presentation

  • Very well put. Internet marketing is constantly changing and any successful internet marketer must change right along with the internet.

    Matt Helphrey’s last blog post..The Money Spot is Above the Fold

  • I haven’t actually given this much thought before now. It seems that most Internet Marketers are using very narrow niches in order to earn money, the same goes for bloggers. But your thoughts makes a lot of sense. The Internet is constantly changing, and if you are still going to be earning money or getting a lot of traffic sometime in the future, you need to have more than one strategy. You need to combine them into a holistic approach.

    When I think about, that’s exactly what I have been doing lately. I am exploring new ways to drive traffic. Earlier, I tried to know “everything” about one way to drive traffic. But I guess I just got tired of it, it’s way more fun to do research in many different topics than just one.

    Great post!

    Jens P. Berget’s last blog post..Marketing Using Facebook Groups

  • Jason kUiper

    Seems as though any good market researcher needs to think outside the lines! You have to strive, and take that holistic approach!

  • I agree Joe. In fact taking a broader view can actually help you to retain the fruit that you get from your IM efforts.

    If you are not looking at the bigger picture, then its possible that whatever you are doing today may become obsolete tomorrow.

    Saad Kamal’s last blog post..Domain Registration Info – Does it have any Impact on Rankings?

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  • One of my passions is organics and sustainability, and holistic management practise and systems is one of the buzz phrases used quite a lot in connection with this subject. I feel the word holistic is definitely applicable to internet marketing too. Excellent post!

  • Hi,

    We are seeing the same thing: a more holistic approach to SEM gives better outcomes in reality – although it is difficult to articulate this in hard&fast ways yet.

    See the article we wrote about Holistic SEM 2 weeks ago for our newsletter

  • You have just complicated a nice comfortable situation. This cannot be SEO hippy take! The whole hippy philososphy was built on Keep It Simple Stupid!

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..Offbeat Gift Ideas

  • @Nicole – nothing about Internet Marketing will ever be simple! 😛

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  • Sure, why not? Long live the SEO hippies!

    Monty’s Mega Marketing’s last blog post..MySpace Rolls Out New Toolbar, MySpaceID

  • Who knew the new hippie would be an internet guru. When I started out in internet marketing I felt very overwhelmed because I kept trying to understand each componant seperately. I found life much easier when I began to see IM as a concert of instruments rather than simply a sum of parts. Nevermind the fact that the concert is constantly changing tune.

  • Dean

    Let’s not forget that Internet Marketing is itself just a part of an “overall” holistic marketing plan. As much as we’d like to discount offline marketing, it still plays an important role in any marketing plan.

  • @ Nicole. I agree. The KISS principle applies, but I do think that we have to have a little diversity. But as long as there is Search Engines there will be SEO. And it will still be about links too. The web is a bunch of pages and links is what gives the pages order.

  • Internet marketing is not only SEO, SEO just part of it.. SEO is combining with arts, theory and strategy. I think in 2009 SEO will stil exist, if not google will loose billion money if they change their strategy just because the trends goes to social media. Google will pretend their pocket with new strategy.

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  • I’m a long-time online publisher and internet marketer with a lot of hippie friends. I learned years ago to pay attention to them, since they so often are living a decade or so in the future. They had adopted a natural, low-impact, sustainable lifestyle long before those ideas became popular with mainstream culture. I admire and try to embody their authenticity (yes, there are poser hippies, too, but you can spot them a mile away), both because it’s a great way to be in the world and because I’m convinced that authenticity will soon emerge as a marketing best practice, if it hasn’t already.

    Larry Swanson’s last blog post..Please Stand By. . .

  • I think its just smart business to approach SEO from as many angles as possible, it makes the whole thing require less work and become far more effective.

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