A reader emailed me today with a great question. If you are interested in Content Marketing or blogging and want to know how I built my blog, you will find this really useful. So, here’s what Sally asked:
I work in SEO and notice that you don’t optimize your blog posts the way I’d expect yet you rank on page 1 of Google for some top search terms. I believe I know how you do this, but I’d love you to write a post to explain it.
Thanks Jim. ~ Sally
Business is human
I work from the mindset that business is all about people, so we need to maintain a human-based approach to business, if we want to succeed in any meaningful way.
One of the core reasons that people struggle to achieve the quality and volume of sales leads or subscribers they would like from their sites, is that they focus too little on human engagement. For them, it’s about numbers. They talk about building their ‘list‘ rather than building a community. If you read about their approach to online marketing, it sounds like they are developing a spreadsheet, rather than welcoming and nurturing human relationships.
People belong in a community, not on a spreadsheet!
Here’s the thing that so many people seem to forget, when marketing their business online. Feel free to quote me on this:
Behind every blog comment, tweet, Facebook update and avatar picture is a person. A human being. Someone worthy of recognition. Someone’s son, daughter, mother or father. Real people, worthy of being respected as such, and not treated like inventory items on someone’s marketing list.
Why do I reply to just about every comment on this blog and every tweet I see? Because it matters to me. It REALLY matters. Why? Because without the people behind the clicks, emails, comments, tweets and shares, this blog has no value.
Here’s the short answer to Sally’s question
It’s almost 4 years since I wrote my first post on Jim’s marketing Blog and from day 1, I decided to develop the blog by focusing on community building, rather than focus on heavy SEO, guest posting, link building and ‘list building’. As a result, the readers of this blog have built the blog with me.
I put content out there and if it’s good enough, the community connect with it, value it and share it. I never, ever forget that.
The upside of this approach, is that I don’t need to spend time SEOing any of my posts. So, I never see a downturn in visitor numbers, when Google change their algorithm. Also, because I have the freedom to write exclusively for humans, rather than figure out how to work certain key phrases into blog posts, it’s easy for me to publish better quality content, more frequently.
I also don’t need to do things, like write those ‘best of the week’ blog post at the weekends, just to quench Google’s thirst for keyword rich, frequently updated content. I can write posts like this, instead.
It takes a leap of faith at the beginning to go against the grain, but after that, it’s easy because you are blogging from a mindset of total freedom. Other than that, I haven’t found a downside to embracing a human focused approach to blogging and online marketing.
Ironically, I manage to achieve better results than most spreadsheet marketing guys, in the areas where they are fixated. For example, around 40 new people, and climbing, subscribe to this blog every day via email. Without offering a newsletter, I have permission to send email to thousands and thousands of great people daily, who are part of this blog’s community. That’s an enormously valuable, Permission Marketing asset; built on providing value.
Equally, by focusing only on writing content that people will find useful, my posts tend to organically attract the back-links, which Google values so highly. Then, because it’s so much quicker to write posts when you are not deliberately SEOing the content or thinking of things like ‘SEO friendly HTML title-tags’, I am able to publish more content, more often – giving Google lots of that frequently updated content I mentioned earlier.
This approach works for me, because it allows me to focus freely on producing content, which I believe you will find useful. I don’t have to waste a minute, learning about the latest and greatest ways to keep the search engines happy or figuring out how to ‘build my list’.
Interestingly, this is the exact approach to blogging, which Google’s Matt Cutts advocates. Google staffers have told us again and again, that they are all about helping the best content reach the top of search results.
When you think about it for a moment, this makes perfect sense. Google lives or dies based on the quality of the search results it delivers. If Google allows generic, scraped or over-SEO’d content to take over the search rankings, people will stop using their product and advertisers will go elsewhere.
The longer I have studied online marketing, (I started my first email newsletter in 1998), the more I see that long term success comes from producing frequent, useful, original, people-focused content.
I believe that the mindset, which says people are to be targeted and referred to like inventory items on a spreadsheet, rather than valued members of your community, is both disrespectful and totally missing the point. As I said at the beginning of this post, business is all about people. It’s people who hire you, buy from you, connect with you and recommend you.
In short: I believe there’s real value in ‘keeping it human’.