Create a Broad Footprint on the Web to be Found the way Buyers Search
The first decade of the new millennium is almost over. As I look at the history of marketing on the web over the past two decades I make these big picture observations, which I discuss in my book, Marketing 2.0.
1990 to 2000 – Most businesses developed their first website. Websites were a one way communication medium from the seller to the buyer. Most businesses had little understanding of organic search engine optimization or pay-per-click advertising to “be found” by buyers. Websites served mostly as an online company brochure. The strategic value of corporate websites was generally low for most businesses.
2000 to 2010 – Most businesses evolved through their second or third generation websites. Strategic value of corporate websites skyrocketed as 24/7 marketing/selling was recognized. Marketing efforts to be found through SEO and paid search marketing have become prominent among businesses of all sizes. Job descriptions and job titles in some marketing organizations include words like “Internet,” “digital,” “online,” “community.”
The Broad Web Footprint
But, there is one aspect of marketing that is not yet mainstream save a few hundred (maybe a few thousand) companies around the world. To be found by buyers, you must create a broad footprint on the web with diverse content. Since there is still one more year and a half left in the decade, there is still time for sellers to jump on this band wagon.
I want to be found by anyone, anywhere in the world, even though I primarily market in U.S. and Canada. And, I certainly DONT’ want to limit where I’m found to Google or Bing or Yahoo (or any search engine).
Sure, being found in Google through organic SEO is very important to me and most businesses. And, pay-per-click advertising (aka SEM), is a terrific way to be found, as long as you’re using best practices.
But, most marketers still think being found on the web means being found in a search engine either in an organic listing, or in a paid (sponsored) listing (PPC). This is a limited view of effective inbound marketing on the web.
Buyers Buy Differently Than They Did Last Decade
I was contacted by a prospective buyer recently. When I asked him how he “found” us his answer was music to my ears. He didn’t remember exactly where he found me. He told me that during the previous week he visited my website, my blog and listened to one of my podcasts. By the time he contacted me, he already had considerable insight into me and my inbound marketing agency. He was ready to speak with me. He was ready to make a buying decision. He had consumed my content long before he called me.
Search Engine Results are Evoloving
The way search engines deliver search results is changing. Google is providing multiple forms of content through “options”.
Bing’s search results are still pretty traditional with links at the top for other content search results:
Kosmix delivers diverse search results. It’s my prediction that before the close of this decade, Kosmix’ search results model will be the norm. Note the prominent display of search result options: Media; News & Blogs; Reviews & Guides; Shopping; Web Search.
The social web has created a conglomeration of platforms where marketers can be found. Buyers are searching for information and finding diverse options of content across many social media platforms. Along the way buyers get influenced by what others say about sellers. Sellers who want to compete in the second decade of new millennium must be prepared to have a strong presence with great content across many relevant web platforms. Sellers must build trust and engage relevant communities there with a broad footprint.
Will SEO and PPC become less prominent as methods for being found in the near future? Probably not. I submit the definition of SEO and PPC is evolving. The influence is shifting to buyers. They are the ones who decide whether to contact you based on how effectively you create a broad footprint on the web.
How broad is your footprint on the web?