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Another Kind of Marketing: SEO, Cleveland, and The Keystone of Psychology

positively-clevelandCleveland, in the form of PositivelyCleveland.com, is in the middle of a pretty decent marketing campaign, trying to rebill itself as a killer vacation destination. Even as a new, not-yet-jaded citizen of the city, I have to admit it seems like a little bit of a stretch — but that’s not the point. The point is that the marketing campaign brings some multiple billions of dollars into the Cleveland economy by pulling in upwards of 10 million visitors each year — and they do it without a huge budget, because they rely on the power of psychology.

The adverts that Cleveland is putting up around the web have distinct targets and simple, powerful messages. A stein of beer with the words “Beer. Buds. Brats.” A bunch of green grapes being splashed with purple-grape-colored paint with the words “Palate Meets Palette”. These ads were designed by people who knew their audience and knew exactly how to pluck their heartstrings.

If you do SEO, Cleveland could be an example to you. Sure, there’s a lot of people out there who do ‘technical SEO’ — they build backlinks and write content and optimize meta tags and all that — but technical SEO isn’t the best that SEO can be…SEO can (and should) be an entirely different kind of marketing.

I always feel a little let down when a new client comes to me with a complete website, all the design finished, and they just want me to spread a little SEO over the top. As I’ve said before, Net Profit Marketing’s #1 secret is that web design is SEO — and so is just about everything else that comes before technical SEO. If you haven’t included your SEO guy in the discussions from the very beginnings of the business, you’re missing out on a lot of his potential.

SEO begins with keyword research — but the keywords that your SEOer comes up with aren’t just traffic waiting to be directed to your site. They also tell you things about your clients. Keywords aren’t used at random by the surfers that come to your site; they have context, and if you can develop your site to take advantage of that context, you can improve conversions. Of course, if you bring the SEOer into the equation after the website is already done, you don’t have the ability to take their findings into account without a massive and costly redesign.

SEO is all about building links from other websites to your website — but if you hire someone to do technical SEO, you’re going to get links from websites that are merely high-PR and relevant. If you bring the SEO guy in early and do the psychological research with him, he’ll be able to start developing relationships between sites that target the same market segment that you do — sites whose links won’t just bring authority, they’ll bring meaningful traffic that’s already interested in your product or service.

In short, good SEO people aren’t just like marketers — they are marketers, and they can tell you a lot about your website’s ability to convert. Hiring a SEOer to do the technical part after everything else is done is like hiring a roofer to put a roof on your home after you’ve already purchased shingles and nails — if he tells you that your house would be better off with tile, what do you do next?

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