If you’re focusing only on SEO, you’re missing out. If you’re sinking all of your ad budget into Google AdWords, you’re missing out. If you are putting all of your eggs in one basket, well, you know what they say…
With the rapid rise of social media platforms some are hailing the demise of email marketing, direct mail, SEO and other client-attraction (or annoyance depending on your view) methods that have been around for quite some time. I say poo poo to all these folks.
Today if you want to ensure that you’re in front of your current and potential ideal clients, what you need to build is a visitor source portfolio.
There’s been a lot of interesting reactions to my previous post about how Google is making search smarter and SEO harder. One retweet by Mark Schaefer garnered this question from Mars Dorian:
I’m not lumping Mars (or Mark) into the folks I was talking about above. He’s asking an excellent question, so let’s take a look at this.
Our latest research shows the massive number of people using the “major” social networks:
But you know what they say – content is king. And where does a lot of that content reside? That’s right – blogs. Over the past 6 years we’ve seen more than a 500% increase in the number of blogs online:
That’s a lot of content. And how does that content get found? Mainly 3 ways:
- People search for it – SEO
- It’s shared – social media
- It’s sent – email
It’s no wonder that those three tactics continue to top the charts for the tactics used by marketers for lead generation:
So you might be thinking that’s a lot of data, but what does that have to do with Mars’ question? Just because SEO is popular now doesn’t mean it will stay that way…
People Are Everywhere
There is no doubt that the time spent on social networking sites is increasing. However when we look at the latest data from comScore (one of the companies tracking all of us everywhere online) we see 5 areas of measurement:
- Social networking
- Search and navigation
- Other content
ALL of the numbers are going up!
What that tells me is that for a business today what you want is a visitor source portfolio.
The Visitor Source Portfolio
At the highest level, a website has 4 main sources of visitors:
Each of these can be further broken down:
- Search => organic (search engines), paid (ads)
- Referrals => social media, other websites
- Direct => email, browser bookmark, browser auto-complete
- Campaign => paid advertising
We could then further segment each of these to an individual source such as a social networking platform (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) and device. In short, we can go crazy with it.
The point here is that there is no “one true source” of visitors. More and more people are coming online each day, and once there the time they spend online increases.
So how do you build a visitor source portfolio? Like so:
- Grab your ideal client definition
- Research where (and if) your ideal clients “live” online
- Create your account
- Start interacting
- Measure everything – I suggest with HitSniffer and Google Analytics (yep – use both)
If you’re a one-person operation (aka solopreneur) don’t spread yourself too thin. Join one or two social networks and start connecting with people.
Build prospecting time into each day and proactively create relationships. Don’t wait for people to come to you – they won’t. And don’t forget offline networking. People need sun and other people so be sure to go outside and go to some local events.
The Final Answer
So to answer Mars’ question as to whether or not SEO will become less and less important I’ll say that I don’t think so. Within the visitor source portfolio it may play a smaller role; however I don’t think that role will become much less significant over time, especially if Google has anything to say about it.
The year-and-a-half of updates Google is making says to me they are working to improve search for the modern webizen. For search engines to stay relevant they need to continue answering our queries, especially when it’s difficult at best to reach anyone on an overcrowded social network.
Is content important? Yes.
Is community important? Absolutely.
Is SEO still a highly viable method of connecting potential community members with your content? You betcha.
Don’t give up on SEO. Just don’t put all your eggs in that basket.