Summary thus far:
Part 1: “SEO today means content marketing, and content marketing is dominated by Forced ARTificial Scarcity, or ‘farts’.”
Part 2: “‘Farts’ is leaving us all struggling to create content that has impact in a market increasingly flooded with content. Your chances of getting by on the quality of your content alone are almost nil, no matter how high that quality is.”
Now it’s time to talk about how to survive in an environment dominated by Farts. It’s simple enough, in concept: you need to be able to cut out the middleman. But how do you get rid of Google in your search for customers?
The smart people know what I’m about to say.
The need for SEO assumes that your customers don’t know you; they only know what they’re looking for. I believe that the next stages of Internet marketing are going to focus a lot more on creating an ongoing relationship with each customer — essentially, extracting the maximum amount of long-term value out of each client. Or, if you want put it in a less predatory-capitalist kind of way, you need to make your customers happy enough with you that they consistently come back to you whenever they need whatever it is you provide.
How To Become a Relationship Builder
If you want to be a relationship builder, you need a web designer who understands how to create trust and encourage long-term interactions over the Internet — and offline, too, if the option exists.
- Opt-in email marketing is an excellent start — get your customers to sign up for a long-term email ‘course’ or ‘newsletter’, and you’ve got just about the least effort-intensive long-term relationship that you can have.
- Other subscriptions can be highly effective as well — people who sign up as Twitter followers, Facebook friends, forum members, RSS subscription receivers, and so on are naturally setting themselves up to have a relationship with your site. Just make sure that they get something meaningful and helpful out of the interaction.
- Form alliances with other sites. Swap guest posts, swap advertising, maybe even put an on-exit opt-in redirect to an allied site. If you and another relevant but non-competing site help each other out, you can each benefit and no one loses.
Relationship building is all about two things. First, you have to communicate your UNIQUE value to the customers, so that they don’t see you as interchangeable with one of your competitors. (This means you have to have a unique value. If you don’t have one, pivot and build one, ASAP.) Second, you have to remind customers that you exist and what your unique value is so that the next time they need something you provide, they come back. That’s how you cut Google out of the picture and eliminate Farts from your life.
It’s what kept some of Detroit’s most cherished businesses alive through the most difficult economic times of our generation, and learning how to do it for our clients will keep Detroit’s SEO community — and our clients — thriving as Google works to find the limits of it’s power and profitability. Content may be a post-scarcity resource — but friends, allies, and partners never will be.