My advice since becoming an SEO hasn't really changed. Some people will tell you that the key to SEO is to build top quality links from relevant and important websites. Others will say the king of SEO is content. New age folk may try to convince you that social is where it's at in the modern world.
I have been telling clients the same thing since day 1 (at least I would like to believe it was day 1):
To truly succeed at SEO you should become an expert resource to your target market.
Mind blowing tidbit, isn't it? On the surface this appears like straight forward advice. If people trust you as a source of knowledge and information, they will be more than happy to buy your product, subscribe to your service, click your ads, or whatever your business model may be. What sage advice!
Do clients like hearing this advice? Yessir, they love it. They gobble it up. This is something they want to hear, but for all the wrong reasons. See, most businesses already think they're the best of the best, the creme de la creme, the go-to guy in their niche. Keep stroking their ego with this advice. It's music to their ears. Little do they know the work involved in being an expert in any niche online.
In a small community? Easy. There may only be 2 or 3 businesses that are in your profession. When worse comes to worse, no one trusts a big box store with their emergencies. They go to the small local guys who have been doing the same job for 40 years. As I have written before, succeeding in a global world is a much different game. You aren't competing against a handful of competitors, but against an entire world (at the very least, an entire nation). The smallest of niches are at least somewhat competitive online.
Become the Expert Takes Hard Work... A Lot of It
Needless to say, you can actually be the expert in your field but not come across as an expert online. If no one knows you exist, or you have yet to build that trust then no one cares what you have to say. More on this in a later post, but some general, broad steps that will help you on your path to becoming the market expert (and thus dominating your SEO) include:
- Blogging - regular, high quality blog posts
- Create instructional videos
- Interact with your target market
- Interact with others in your field (yes, this means competitors)
- Utilize the social web to interact & spread your expertise
- Attend events locally and nationally
- Actually interact at those events
- Speak at those events
- Act like an expert
- Don't act like you're better than everyone else
- Use data - a lot of great, market data
- Publish research
- Publish official looking documents (ebooks, paper books, case studies)
- Be open about your techniques
- Review your own products and services
- Let others openly review your products and services
- Review other products and services
Clients love to be told that being the expert is the best way to dominate the search engines... until they see this list. This partial, short list taken from a much longer list.
In my opinion? The benefits are worth it. Once you're the expert every word from your lips is gold. Sure, it will be questioned, torn apart, dissected, analyzed, obfuscated, misinterpreted. This is all part of the game. For every person hating your advice there are (usually) 10 that take it without question. The first time someone important tears into you for publishing bad information you know you have made it. The feeling should be a good one.
The Benefits of Being an Expert
This is deserving of a post all to itself. Since I included a brief list of how to start becoming an expert, it's only fitting that I attach a list of some of the benefits of being an expert. Here are a handful:
- People trust you, usually unquestionably
- People listen to what you have to say
- People take your advice to heart
- People talk about how great your advice is
- People link to your advice
- People refer their friends to your advice
All of that equates to one thing, in the mind of an SEO:
- Great, naturally occurring search optimization
Oh, for those that feel content is king. Here's the truth:
- The road to becoming an expert is paved with content
Here Ye This, Naysayers
If I didn't cover everyone, let me know. There is love for the content worshipers, social buzz for the new age folk, and links for link-heads.
Right. The businesses and those who care about trivial things like sales, money, profit, and whatnot. Everything here revolves around increasing these metrics. More people talking: more customers. More links: more customers. You get the idea.
There you have it. Become the expert. It takes a lot of long, hard work but it's worth it. Guaranteed.