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A Digital Future for Queensland now

Helping our regions harness, employ and engage with new media is the vital key to a sustainable future.

Sharks in the shallows of the world wide web

By Laurie Ward

A cull is about to begin in the murky and turbulent seas of the world wide web, where sharks prowl waiting to pounce on unsuspecting  paddlers with a hunger unknown to mankind until about a decade ago.

It is long-overdue and set to save Australia’s SME sector millions.

After more than a decade of being told that we all must embrace the internet or lose our businesses, small business owners are wising up.

In 2014 the smart business operator will be placing more faith in the intelligence of their customers as the starting point and less faith in buzziods and sharks that claim to have a magic cure to lure customer’s dollars with the click of a mouse.

These sharks have been active in 2013 and have buzz worded their way into the shallows.

If marketing buzz for small to medium business could be categorised, 2013 we’d see SEO and social media top the charts. Unfortunately, the buzz has left more businesses out of pocket and out of hum

Australian small business owners are being bombarded with offers from so called “SEO experts” Emails offering promises of first page placement on Google, Yahoo, Bing and so on were more plentiful than weeds in the wet season. They are just as ineffective and just as annoying.

The fact is, search engine page ranking is a like greasy pole with everyone competing to be at the top.

There is no magic SEO fix.

The Magic bullet for Search Engine Optimisation begins with having an overall marketing plan and brand building. SEO is part of the overall internet approach, not some add on or specialist silo that can magically make people choose you.

In fact these companies can’t do it for themselves. If you type ‘SEO services’ into Google search, you get over 1 million results. I drilled 25 pages in and I was still finding website companies who claimed they would get you to page one of major search engines.

The reality is that there are only ten search results on page 1 of Google, so it’s not physically possible for everyone in your industry to be listed in the top ten, let alone #1

We need to remember that it’s not the number of visitors that matter; it’s the quality of the search results. And the mind set they bring with them to your site.

Most firms offering SEO services operate in a silo approach. They feel that getting visitors to your site is the main goal.

Getting them there is only a part of the process. It’s capturing them, keeping them there and calling in some consumer action that gets sales. That is the combined job of your total marketing mix. It is not about a site in isolation.

A good on line presence in 2014 must be about one thing

 – Building Trust.

The internet has become the source of more mis-information and fly by nighters than any other single media source before it and we are all now very aware of it. Trust, therefore is king in 2014.

Trust is built, not manufactured. It’s dangerous to think that web based technology and SEO is the answer. It’s only one tool and just as a good tradesman will use the ‘full set of tools’, good marketers will too.

Today’s successful brands make sure that they are part of the conversation that clients and prospects are having.

They lead, engage and follow the conversation that their clients are having. They use PR, main stream media, blogs, social media, audio/visual, email, direct mail and unique and meaningful content to engage their customers in this conversation. They get to top of mind with a clever mix of mediums and smart new ways of engaging.

On-line presence and internet web usage therefore becomes just one more tool.  You entertain marketing peril to shut down one successful marketing approach in search of another without a lot of homework first. All tools need to be working in sync, as part of an overall structured and planned mix. Your on-line presence then becomes the icing on the cake.

In 2014 it is going to be about savvy and much smarter customers and consumers. The overall mix, the corporate credentials and how your internet presence respects that and builds onto that will be what closes the sale for you in 2014.

SEO, and so called SEO specialists are not like the fairy God mother in Cinderella who can get you to # 1 on Google or nail the handsome prince. The slipper that fits best and wins the consumer kiss is a combined approach with a mix of mediums, including a meaningful and valuable internet presence.