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Is Your Optimization Meaningful or Mechanical?

Posted on May 7th, 2012
Written by Lee Odden
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    optimization meaningful or mechanicalWhile I’ve been to Belgium the past week for the fine Fusion Marketing Experience, I decided to take a day trip to Paris yesterday since it was only 2 hours away by train. As you may know, I do a bit of traveling.

    The quality of the experience, memories and the stories you get to tell after visiting other countries are usually the most meaningful. Sure “stuff” is fun to get, but how often do you think “I met too many cool people” vs. “I bought too many souvenirs”?

    As I talk to other people about traveling (and online marketing), the spectrum of perspectives is pretty amazing. It’s just like the wide variety of perceptions towards optimization and social networking. For some people, both are simplified as checklists. Keyword list? Check. Take a picture of the Eiffel Tower? Check. But what did it mean?

    The purpose of my day-trip to Paris (my first) was all mechanical. I was there mostly to get Flat Stanley photos for my 8 year old princess and to get lightly familiar with the Metro, navigating the city. I will make no claims whatsoever about having “seen” Paris. I didn’t “really” see, or more importantly, experience much of anything significant. As there is infinitely more to Paris than photos of the Louvre Museum, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, there is much, much more to SEO than keywords, Pandas, Pengiuns and links. There’s certainly a lot more to social networking than fans, friends and followers.

    So the question is, why do you settle? Why do you let your company settle? Why are so many companies still siloing their SEO and social media marketing and counting success through KPIs? Even those companies that have developed their appreciation towards what SEO can do, get caught up in Google update drama or link counts and rankings vs. focusing on what’s important.

    The same goes for companies that have some experience in the social media realm. Blog? Check. Fans, friends and followers? Check. Ooh look! Shiny object Pinterest. Check!

    KPIs are not business outcomes. At least not for most companies. Rankings, organic non-branded search traffic, Google+ circle counts, video views, comments and retweets are KPIs. Last time I checked, none of them carry a wallet.

    Optimize for experiences. Any content or media that a company publishes digitally can create an experience for prospects, customers, investors, employees, journalists, potential employees and industry peers. It’s important to monitor key performance indicators as it relates to search and social media attracting visitors. Engagement KPIs are important too. But I think there’s opportunity to look beyond the fan, friend, follower and ranking metrics to attempt to understand what progress in those areas actually means for the business.

    London? Been there, done that. A while back, a peer in the online marketing world mentioned to me having been to London for a day. The summation was, “I’ve done London” check. I see the same assessments from online marketers about their SEO and social media efforts. They have a blog, they’re getting data on links, visits, retweets, likes and comments. Check. But that’s where it stops for them.

    In the way that there’s more to Paris, London and the city where you live than seeing a few tourist spots, there’s more to your online marketing than measuring KPIs. They can indicate progress, but they are not the end goal when it comes to customer acquisition and engagement (the business my agency TopRank Online Marketing) is in. It’s also a big focus for my new book, Optimize.

    My 30 min of internet at the Antwerp airport is about to expire. I wish I could finish this post, but maybe you can share your thoughts? Do you think most online marketers are practicing meaningful or more mechanical SEO and social media marketing?