When vetting a company, investors like to see diversity. Where? In several areas. They look for a strong product offering, a well-rounded team, a history of growth and success, and smart decisions made in a range of circumstances. No venture capitalist is going to invest in a one-dimensional company. When they find that all the focus has been put into a single area, they quickly begin to see red flags. Why? Because what happens if that one area fails? The foundation of company crumbles and the whole deal falls through.
The same can be said for marketing. The marketing strategies that are most likely to succeed long-term are those that leverage a diverse mix of channels to build traffic and generate leads. NOT those that put all their eggs in the Google basket.
For years, marketers have been focused on SEO. We’ve been told to optimize our websites in accordance with Google’s latest algorithm. Build content around highly researched keyword phrases. Include pictures – no, wait – videos in our posts to boost performance. Marketers have been tagging, labeling, titling, posting, sharing, emailing and writing all in an effort to play the Ranking Game.
To a certain extent, this is good. It’s healthy. It’s a way to keep us all on our toes, striving to be better marketers and deliver for our companies. However, there is danger in building a marketing strategy around SEO. What happens when Google, as it often does, makes a change to its algorithm? Or when you put hours into incorporating Google Authorship into your company blog only to see it shut down a couple of months later? And let’s not even get started on the time and energy you may have put into making the now defunct Google+ work.
When we put too much stock into SEO, two things happen:
- We lose site of serving our target audience, marketing instead to the delight of search engines.
- We turn over too much control to the number crunchers who formulate those powerful algorithms.
So here’s what I propose instead. As marketers, we should have one primary objective: to deliver value to our target audience so they are drawn in to learn more, aka become leads. To do that, we should build a balanced marketing mix. In that mix should be smart, well-planned, regularly maintained SEO, of course. But there should also be a healthy portion of other marketing channels like email marketing, social media, strategic content creation, offline marketing like speaking opportunities and conferences, and perhaps some paid advertising, to round it out.
We’re marketers. Inbound marketers. It’s up to us to dig in and build strong personas. Really understand our target audience. Get to know them so well that we can craft creative new ways to reach them where they are with information they want to receive. SEO is important, yes. Very important. But that’s not what it’s about.
Don’t put all your eggs in Google’s basket. After all, who knows what they will do with them next? Listen to what your parents, teachers and financial advisor have all told you for years: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Try new things. Find balance. Diversify.
In many ways, I’m just putting into writing what so many marketers already know. Sometimes it just helps to be reminded.