SEO: Blur the line between life and the web
One Informs The Other
All this talk about the new-(ish) demands of SEO holistic-style and Semantic Search have some of you in a bundle of anxious concerns and doubt. Discomfort prowling about; you’re nervous about doing something wrong and thus damaging your chances at a strong online presence and good rankings. Yet you only stand to gain from following the current recommendations.
Believe me, I can hang out up there on the fancy dais with the most talented of worriers. I’ve got the gift when I apply myself. But truly, you can take a deep breath and let the steam out. And then let it stay out there at a good distance. Those worries can be paralyzing.
In place of worrying, try this:
Pretend for an SEO moment that Content Marketing and Social Media tickle your imagination.
Let’s look at this from a different perspective. Perhaps you’re a solopreneuer. Or you’ve got a small business or maybe are employed by one. Maybe you’ve got a non-profit or you’re on the board. Or better yet, you’re the Director of Development or Marketing. What if you’re representing a company or corporation with greater heft? Regardless, the fundamental, basic concepts of SEO and the principles of marketing that you do in the real world are very similar and you’re familiar with more than you think.
When you look through the viewfinder of a camera or binoculars, there is usually some blur until you adjust the lens and magically create clarity from something you couldn’t focus on at first. It’s such a relief to get that clarity.
Now, imagine your world in two parts. There’s the offline, physical world of people, places, things that we experience and interact with through our bodies, can touch, feel, smell, taste. We live our breathing lives out here in the so-called ‘real world’.
And then there’s the online world where things can seem abstracted, distant and separated from the ‘real world’. But when you’re online, immersed via screen, it can feel and even be just as real. Especially if you are connecting with other people, conversing, coming together, collaborating, supporting, creating a bond, it becomes about people and is just as real as anything.
Now blur the edges between the two. Squint your eyes, relax your vision into the blur. Allow a flow from one to the other, a fluid, even viscous energy that is a bridge between the two. With that bridge you may begin to perceive similarities. You may begin to realize that the flow between the two can feel tremendously natural and easy.
Until we experience this for ourselves, we tend to think there is a marked, sharp distinction and barrier between what we do in our life on the ground and what we do online. However, the line in the sand can be blurred and brushed away. Stay in the blur and relax into it. Online, you’ll find similar values and objectives that are familiar to all of us.
How The Two Make Sense Together
What you do offline isn’t all that different from what you’ll be doing online for your business. The concepts are the same: Social interactions and networking (Social Media), learning how to market via the exceptional work you do (one step towards Content Marketing).
Are You [Culturally] Comfortable?
You will encounter some cultural differences…. say in the different social channels available, for instance, but you will bring yourself along authentically into each setting and show up with your own, unique identity and you will learn to roll with the differences.
When I was in my early teens, my family traveled to Columbia, South America on a mission and a dream. The intention was to create a South American ‘home’ for Fiedel School. A place where cultural differences could be celebrated and integrated. A lab for creativity in a different setting. Back at the home base in Glen Cove, NY, the school was experimenting with a residential program for a small group of select teens within the summer creative arts division and this was a natural extension from that. My parents pushed their imagination out beyond the confines of the current facility (and country) to imagine the curriculum thriving in the atmosphere of a different culture. Their idea was to bring the program, intact, to within the orbit of the host culture’s influence and possibly also add location-sensitive studies. They felt it would enhance the creative experience of each of the teens participating. There was talk of it being an exchange. Sound familiar?
Here’s What You Already Know
Your Relationships In Business
You are used to building relationships with your customers whether through the products you manufacture and sell or the services you provide. In other words, you know who they are and get to know each other. You are also practiced at finding out how they regard you and knowing how you regard them, treat them making adjustments along the way if necessary. You are used to breaking down the walls that can build up between you. It’s not unusual for you to share your expertise, recommend, match-make, nurture relationships, teams, build alliances, discover who your supporters are.
That Trust Comes Into Play
It’s not news that you need to earn trust so your customers will come to you for what they need. You guide, educate and assist and they come to depend on you and believe what you tell them because you’ve proven time and again that you are trustworthy and you know what you are doing. You’re generous with what you know because it makes you both feel good to connect in that way. And because you care.
Of Course, There’s Your Identity To Be Clear On
Think about your business:
You’ll want to know the answers to these questions because they will guide you through all of this. They will also illustrate the ways in which you are unique and what to emphasize. Because no two businesses are exactly alike. Just like humans.
~ Who are you?
~ Why do you do what you do?
~ How do you do it?
David Amerland, Google Semantic Search authority, in a Podcast interview with James Reynolds on Veravo.com
Your Reputation Is Yours. Build It. Use It.
You know your identity, you are authentic in your dealings and interchanges, you work to earn the trust of your customers and you build your reputation by being truthful. You are comfortable with transparency because you know it adds to the trust you earn. You are an expert in what you do. You get a thrill out of the ways your contacts, customers, prospects and friends know that too and help to build your reputation.
The Seemingly Perfect Place
There were reasons for Colombia. A man who worked at the school was Columbian, had family and connections there and was our distinguished guide and interpreter on the trip. We also had a very dear and close friend who was part of the school “family” and had recently completed his Peace Corps service working with Gamines in Bogota or ‘throwaway children’ as they’re also known. (small aside: I wrote my school term that year paper about the children and the work our friend did creating an creativity oasis for them in the city outskirts. While we were in Bogota I got to interview his former boss who worked closely with them on a permanent basis . A small perk.)
We traveled to a few cities but spent most of our time in the colonial city of Popayan, Columbia searching for the future school annex. Somehow we became connected with the Minister of Public Works who lived locally and my father and he became fast friends sharing many common interests. He and his family took us under their wing, drove us around, introduced us to the tourist sights and local cultural institutions and helped us with the real estate search. Showed us the coca leaves growing on his property and how they were chewed by the local workers.
We honed in on an enchanting but rundown, empty hacienda that was owned by one of those very formal, rambling big, fragmented families who can’t agree on anything and have differing agendas and running feuds. This made it a logistical, communication and a family politics nightmare so it was most likely doomed from the start. The scene in hard high back chairs and rigid formality of the first meeting with a few of the family members stays in my memory to this day.
It was an amazing experience to wander the grounds and poke around in the grand main house imagining ourselves, our US teenagers living and learning, making art, dancing, acting, playing music in that environment. We transported the whole picture in our minds and had a sense of how exciting it would be. How possible it was. A great fantasy of something that seemed workable.
Your Offline Social Network
You are also familiar with networking, referrals, matchmaking. You do it all the time both with vendors and other professionals, colleagues. You’ve networked at your local Chamber and business events, at cocktail parties, book clubs, kid’s schools. You’ve referred friends to physicians, bragged about your favorite yoga instructor and raved about the studio, recommended your bookkeeper, described that delicious entrée you had over the weekend at a local restaurant. You’ve had clothing exchanges, trunk shows, yard sales. This is so second nature you almost don’t notice how often it occurs.
What Happened in Columbia?
Our friend tried to gain consensus from the family’s most powerful factions and he may have eventually succeeded, but sadly, it didn’t matter. What ended up happening, instead, was tragic.
We went back home with lingering hope and dreams but not too long after, he was killed in an accident (suspicious circumstances). My father was heartbroken and incensed about losing his dear new friend to a violent act and the idea for the whole endeavor slipped away. A number of years later much of beautiful Popayan was leveled in a devastating earthquake….
What I’m Really Trying To Say
My intention, here is not to tell a story with a sad ending. It’s is to illustrate the idea of picking up and taking who you are into a foreign land where you may not know the language, and where, admittedly, there may be cultural gaps to challenge you. But you can and should and will still be yourself and you can and should and will still apply the principals you already know so well so you needn’t be timid. You’ll learn the language and you’ll learn the culture.
You can find more about the particulars of the essentials of SEO for small business owners in this article. In fact, I really do recommend that you read it when you have a chance. And this one too about building community, the narrowing number of degrees of separation the ways we help each other in our collaborations. This is something we are all experiencing as our world gets smaller and our connections grow wider. It is all SEO.
I would love to hear about your experiences blurring the line.
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Pre-remix photo: iStockPhoto.com