50 Shades of Gray: When S/M Means “Search Marketing”
The Sprocket Report
This article has been updated on 11/9/2021 with the article entitled “There Are More Than 50 Shades of Gray in the "SM" of “Search Marketing.”
You do everything Google asks when promoting your website and still your page ranking gets a spanking. Even with updates named “Panda” and “Penguin” and SEO terms labeled “black hat” and “white hat,” search engine marketing strategies are still very gray.
The “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie is set for a 2015 release. No doubt you’ve heard that this wildly popular franchise started out as a simple self-published ebook. That’s the kind of success that every small business owner dreams of achieving. “Surely,” you think, “by diligent use of the internet marketing tools available, anyone can drive their business website to the top of the heap and make those dreams come true!”
Of course reality is not as black and white and there is no fool-proof plan to boost your website. You have more going for you than you might think, but you’re also up against some serious obstacles:
Not all strategies support every website.
Pinterest, for instance, is still overwhelmingly patronized by women. Certain products and services will do well there so the effort would be a good return on investment. Possibly all businesses could find some success on Pinterest, but is it worth the ROI compared to another strategy?
You have a limited budget.
McDonald’s has a limited budget, too, but it’s way bigger than yours. Competition online has never been more cutthroat. “All on red” is a legitimate way to spend your marketing budget when driving web traffic. So is “hedge your bets.” Only you can decide which is the right path.
The rules keep changing.
Because people always try to game the system, Google, Facebook and others of that kind will keep changing their algorithms to thwart the bad guys. Yesterday’s sure-fire trick for website promotion will draw tomorrow’s penalty. This gives some SEO gurus a thrill, but for most businesses, it’s a dangerous way to play.
But don’t get discouraged! Your business can succeed online if you focus on a few main points:
You know more than you think you do.
Rely on your common sense and steer clear of “too good to be true” promises. Lightning does occasionally strike, but you can’t count on it. What you can count on is that constant progress will get you to the goal. Getting help with search engine marketing is a smart idea, but participate as a partner and bring your specific expertise to the table.
Your customers are smarter than you think.
Yes, they watch a lot of cat videos, but most people on the internet are pretty savvy – or they will be after they get burnt once. Tricks do not encourage repeat customers, and we know you want to build good customer relationships or you wouldn’t be reading this. Trust them with intelligent marketing.
The main rules haven’t changed and never will change.
You start with providing the right product or service for a specific customer base. The marketing used to support your website should be fresh, relevant and consistent. And the harder you work at it, the luckier you get. Deep down, you know there is no quick fix. A systematic approach to your online marketing, where you control the variables and learn from mistakes, will inevitably get you to your goal.
The “Fifty Shades” phenomenon took more effort than most people realize. The original manuscript was completely re-imagined. It was years before the self-published version appeared and another year before it became a best-seller under the patronage of a traditional publisher.
Isn’t it masochistic to keep chasing the Next Big Thing in search engine marketing? Maybe it’s time to put your efforts into some solid relationship-building. We believe in traditional values and want to be your web marketing partners. Contact us today to get started. We’re always happy to help.