Thursday, June 26, 2014

SEO is About Creating Connections

A few years ago, shortly after the birth of my daughter, Ella, I posted a few pictures of the new baby on Facebook. For many parents, this is standard operating procedure. In fact, to not post pictures of a new baby would be a social faux pas. After all, many friends and family depend on Facebook for this sort of jubilant sharing.

At the time, I thought my daughter looked like an alien, yet I felt happy to share the pics. I was a tired father, flushed with pride. I suppose I still feel the same way...

My baby daughter at two days old
I did not give much thought to how these pictures--this person--might change other people's views of me. At the time, though, my friend Charlie Stewart offered a comment that, in retrospect, feels prescient: "She's part of your brand now, isn't she?"

The idea appalled me. To think of my daughter as part of my "brand"! To think of myself as a "brand"!

Today, however, for better or worse, I've come to see how my online presence is, in fact, a "brand" and how deeply my daughter has influenced this brand.

The tweet below (offered minus context, in the spirit of one of our favorite Twitter accounts) from the famous wit and intellect, Benjamin Dryer, is quite telling:

This is partly tongue-in-cheek, yet it is also partly sincere--and it is entirely informed by my daughter. Just as my daughter has changed my personality in the "real world", her presence has changed my online "brand". (I continue to put the word "brand" in quotes because I think it's an egregious concept, even though I believe it behooves most people to think about their own "brand"). In the past, my online persona might've been described less by a generous spirit than a somewhat overly-dramatic spirit. After all, I've always been a fan of hyperbole.

So am I advocating that you have a child to change, and perhaps improve, your brand presence?

No, that would be patently absurd.

The point is this: If you're online in any capacity, you have a brand. And since you have a brand, you might want to think about the implications of how you present that brand.

We all know by know that your web presence can potentially help or hurt your chances for college admission or for a potential job opportunity. As The New York Times once asked, "Is Your Online Identity Spoiling Your Chances?"

This article, written four years ago, made a suggestion that is even more important today:

"You should assume that they [employers in this article, but anyone today] are at least looking you up on search engines. So it’s wise to review the results of a quick search of your name."

Now, depending on what you find, you might have the opportunity to change what people see. But you must be proactive. As Barbara Safani, owner of Career Solvers, a career management business in New York, noted in the Times article:

"It is very hard to remove anything questionable about yourself from a search engine, but you can at least push it lower by adding positive entries."

In essence, Safani, is advocating a sort of SEO. The goal, of course, is the same goal as a web-based company: to better control how and when you appear in search results.

Since beginning my work with Stepmans PC, I've come to see the true power of SEO. On my own blog, The New Savagery, I've increased traffic by a factor of ten simply by following the simple principles outlined in The Organic SEO Blog.

I've focused on content, design, and yes, I've paid attention to keywords. Doing so, I believe my purpose hasn't be so crass as to simply increase traffic. No, I believe my blog is worth sharing, and that the information can help others. Just take a look at the comments on this blog--many people testifying to the value of a simple remedy I'd suggested: a yogurt mask.

I do not say this to toot my own horn, but to motivate others. If I can do this, you can do this. You can easily take control of your own brand by applying the lessons of this blog.

Of course, this idea speaks to the essential goal of an online business, too. If you sell a high-quality product at the right price you deserve customers. Organic SEO is about connecting your product or service with the very people who need it the most.

This is the elegance of SEO: it's not so much about marketing as it is about creating connections--between people; and between people and the products or services they might enjoy or need.

This might sound naive to some. But we believe that SEO, if practiced with integrity, is about communication--communication between brands and people. And since we're all brands (and presumably, all people) we would all do well to use SEO to make this communication efficient.