Has your business become over-reliant on Google when it comes to online copywriting and marketing? Should you be shifting some of your online focus and re-balancing it with more offline activity?
With all the changes that have taken place at the search engine over the last 12 months – we’re talking Penguin and Panda again! – you’d be forgiven for being a little uneasy, especially if a large percentage of your orders or business enquiries are generated through the use of search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques.
Massive investments of time and money have been undone for many thousands of companies who’ve fallen victim to Google’s kaleidoscopic changes in their approach and responses to SEO. We all know how important it is for website pages to rank highly with the search engines, with Page One ranking being the Holy Grail.
Imagine the feeling – if you haven’t experienced it already – of waking up one fine morning to discover that the pages on your website that once ranked highly and generated lots of traffic have suddenly plummeted in the rankings! Imagine the horror, the realisation, that your once-cushy cash-cow is now a dead duck!
How could Google do this to you? After all, you or your SEO people had followed all the Webmaster Guidelines in great detail to make sure you didn’t fall foul of their strictures. Like a headless chicken, you’d be running around wondering what to do. Sue Google? Sack your SEO advisors? File for bankruptcy? Slit your wrists – or worse?
You’d given up on all that old-fashioned offline stuff two or three years ago. ‘Online’ was where you knew you should be. You’d got the whole SEO thing down to a fine art. And the results from your spend on Pay-Per-Click advertising was as good as guaranteed!
You never had that in the old days when placing ads in the press was a comparative hit-and-miss affair that cost a small fortune. Direct mail was also a numbers game that depended on so many variables – the sales letter, the offer, the mailing list… and so it went on.
‘Online’ was supposed to be the brave new world of speed and efficiency where small companies could compete with the big boys on the level playing field of SEO. So how could this happen? How could Google remove the foundations of your livelihood by yet another of its algorithm ‘updates’?
This was outrageous! No-one had warned you. If you’d known, you could have diverted some of your marketing budget to offline activities. No matter that it wouldn’t be anywhere near as successful or measurable!
But… don’t you see? This is happening under your nose. As of now, in the interests of improving online search results for the mass of people who routinely tap in their key phrases to open up a Pandora’s Box of frightening omniscience, Google is in the process of transforming the way it evaluates web pages for ranking purposes.
This isn’t a piece of minor tinkering to weed out a few black-hat SEO types. No, this is a systematic, root and branch revolution that is ongoing and potentially life-threatening for many thousands of online businesses.
Is there a solution?
What can you do? Basically, the solutions are two-fold.
First off, you should keep your nerve and take a long, hard look at your present approach to SEO. The single most reliable thread that should run through all your SEO-related online copywriting and marketing is producing consistently high quality content. This applies not only to your website pages, but also to all the activities you undertake as part of your link-building strategy – articles, blog posts, news releases and so on.
Quality content is timeless. Even better, it will always be in Google’s good books as an essential part of its future-vision of providing a search engine experience that delivers the most informative, in-depth and relevant content possible.
The second obvious way of pre-empting any future Google-shocks is to shift a big chunk of your marketing activity to the offline domain. In other words, follow the golden rule of traditional marketing which is never to put all your eggs in one basket.
Right now is as good a time as any to re-acquaint yourself with the offline regime. Sharpen up your advertising and media management skills, freshen up your media buying resource, take a new look at how best to evaluate your direct mail – or even e-mail marketing! Printed catalogues may regain some of their appeal, as will allocating bigger budgets for exhibitions and seminars.
That’s not to say you should cut your online activity suddenly or dangerously. In ever-changing times, the mantra should be to integrate online with offline, find a new balance and even explore the synergies that undoubtedly exist between the two options. However, to blithely continue down the one-horse route of online time-traveller is to run the risk of losing everything – and that could all stem from a few Google whims.
Visit Buzzwords’ website for the full run-down on Mike Beeson’s copywriting, SEO and PR services.