One of the first rules of business is not to rely too heavily on any 1 client or customer, for the majority of your income. If you do, and that customer goes broke or takes their business elsewhere, you’re in BIG trouble! Even if that customer just decides to pay you late, it can kill your cash flow or put you out of business.
Everyone knows that it’s far better and a lot less risky, to have a wider spread of business.
Or do they?
For some reason, when it comes to the Internet, it seems many site owners and bloggers focus the majority of their efforts on just one form of traffic development; search engines. Then, the vast majority of that is focused on just 1 search engine – Google. As a result, some people are now very dependent on Google traffic. Many invest a staggering amount of time and effort doing everything they can, to keep Google happy.
Even the most read sites on the Internet can become extremely dependent on Google. In a recent blog post, Darren Rowse from problogger explained that he almost went out of business, when Google decided overnight, to cut his traffic (and thus his sales/leads) by 30%!
I believe it’s insane to allow any 3rd party to have that much control over:
- Your sales
- Your leads
- Your enquiries
- Your income
- and maybe even your business’ future
Whilst I recommend that every business invests in professional Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), I ALSO strongly suggest that you consider investing in alternatives too. Why? Because the results can be amazing AND it removes your exclusive reliance on search engines.
For example, although this blog is currently ranked one of the top 100 marketing blogs in the world by Adage, just a small percentage of my traffic comes via search engines. The vast majority comes from people, via social media (more on that in a moment.)
SEO, social media and your Internet marketing mix
When I started this blog, I decided that Google was NOT going to play any deliberate part in the blog’s development. I do NOT recommend others follow this path, it’s not the right move for the vast majority of people.
Why did I do it? Because as someone from a traditional marketing background, I wanted to use a form of marketing for the blog, which was not so reliant on Google. I elected to use a strategy, which used a number of social media related activities. The idea was (and still is) to provide my blog with a much wider spread of human-powered, marketing options.
I use some basic SEO here, like tagging posts so that it’s easier for search engines to correctly identify what my posts are about. This takes seconds to do. However, I do not deliberately use Google friendly key phrases or key words – I don’t even have a sitemap! I also do zero off-site SEO. If Google stopped sending people here tomorrow, it would have very little impact on the development of this blog. Chris Brogan claims to have gone 1 step further than me, and says he does no SEO on his blog whatsoever! That’s incorrect, as his theme is optimized and he has requested people to link to him – I think he means he doesn’t keyword stuff. Ignoring SEO completely is at best, a little blinkered.
Here are just some of the ways that people, via social media, have helped me generate targeted traffic to this blog:
- People share my blog posts on Twitter. I use Twitter most days and have connected with a some great people. Some of them are kind enough to share posts on Twitter, if they find them interesting.
- People use sites like Facebook, Delicious, Stumbleupon and Digg etc to share blog posts. For example, this 1 post gets hundreds of views every week from Stumbleupon users.
- Fellow bloggers link to posts here, which alerts their readers to this blog. Some bloggers link to the entire blog.
- People have mentioned the blog in podcasts.
- I link to this blog in my marketing newsletter; which helps new newsletter readers discover the blog.
Because SEO is very much the secondary focus of the blog’s development, I focus on optimising my posts, so that they are as attractive as possible for people. I have to admit that as a writer, I find it far, far more natural to write for people, than to alter my writing style, so that there are key phrases and words scattered strategically – to attract Google’s attention too.
It’s wise to combine great copy writing with powerful SEO. Particularly when writing copy for a website, as opposed to a blog, the combined SEO social media approach is extremely valuable.
Love SEO – but give social media a hug too!
Do not misread this post and think for one moment that I am suggesting you ignore SEO. That would be wrong. I am not saying that at all. However, I AM saying that all site owners and bloggers should spend some time exploring additional ways to generate targeted traffic. Keep up with your SEO, but seriously consider adding a little people-power to your Internet marketing mix!