Search engine optimization dominates the thinking and to a large degree the marketing efforts of many small and medium-sized companies, but have you ever noticed that many of the largest and most profitable companies in the world ignore many SEO techniques.
Of course these companies have large advertising and marketing budgets that drive traffic to their websites and generate leads, sales, and most importantly customers; and they achieve these results without having to twist their Web-marketing message out of shape in order to satisfy search engine criteria.
Their prime interest is in delivering their finely crafted, focused marketing message to their audience, not to search robots. Last I heard search engines are in the business of selling you their stuff not buying yours. But these companies also know something that you don't; they have a secret that makes their marketing work without the need for search engine appeasement. This secret is not much of a secret, in fact it is out there for all see; unfortunately most search engine crazed entrepreneurs choose to ignore it and instead look for an easy fix, a magic bullet, search engine nirvana.
Google's success is based on two very simple facts: one, it is the best way to find what people are looking for on the Web; and two, it has parlayed this ability into a series of paid-for services. Pretty obvious stuff until you delve deeper into why and how this works. Google understands the same thing most extraordinarily successful companies understand and that is they know what you really want. The keyword here is 'really:' they understand the unconscious primal need to survive, to be the alpha-ape, to be first on page one of a search for whatever it is you do, because in the SEO game, if you ain't on the leader board you ain't in the money.
The Google Paradox
Here's the problem: Google can only be successful as long as they deliver relevant search results to a vast Internet audience. If they fail to deliver appropriate search results people will stop using them and their paid-for services will decline. On the other hand, you as a business executive want access to Google's vast audience, and the only way you think you can effectively gain this access is to appear on that first search page as close to the top as possible; and you really don't give a damn how you get there. Enter the search engine optimization gurus, boffins, and Svengalis who provide the promise of survival of the most index-able.
So now we have Google whose success is based on delivering relevant searches and SEO companies intent on manipulating this ability to place their clients on page one near the top. Google of course being a smart bunch of guys foils the SEOs by constantly changing their methods and algorithms and trumps them by placing paid-for results in the most prominent places. And the game continues, bringing in huge profits to Google and wonderfully large fees to the search engine optimization experts, leaving you paying the shot with little to show for it.
Just as an aside, I can tell you that most of our website traffic and subsequent inquiries and worldwide clients come from Google searches, and our website is mostly Flash, concentrates on Web-video and audio, and basically ignores most search optimization tricks. We rely on providing our audience and Google with relevant material.
Back to Basics
The lesson here is clear: sound marketing practices based on the way people think and act should be your number one priority, not blind faith in the manipulation of some constantly changing mathematical formula that is increasingly playing second fiddle to paid-for placement.
The ability to make money on the Web is not based on traffic but rather on your ability to communicate. High volume expensive traffic that leaves your site within seconds serves no financial purpose. You should be spending your marketing dollars on methods that grab visitors' attention and deliver a focused, informative, entertaining and memorable marketing message that resonates with your audience's unconscious desires formed in the primitive reptilian portion of the brain.
The Lustication-Justification Process
Sales are generated by creating what Clotaire Rapaille, the reigning superstar of market research, refers to as the process of lustication and justification. Lustication is the psychological trigger of desire that makes your audience want to buy your product or service, while justification is merely the rational excuse used to expend resources.
Decoding the Motivating Triggers
Rapaille's work is all about decoding the motivating triggers that prompt a purchase. Once found, the job of the marketing effort is to stay on code. The major research effort is to get past the excuses, the justifications, the rational left brain thinking that appeases the accountants, engineers and programmers, and to get down to the nitty-gritty, the elements and primal coding that make us tick.
Rapaille believes words carry more than their literal meaning and are ripe with unconscious associations, not a surprising revelation since all communication whether verbal or nonverbal is based on the associations we make over a lifetime of experience. These shared associations form the basis of the code we are looking to play upon in our marketing.
Where most corporations and advertising agencies use focus groups as an exercise designed to cover their collective asses, Rapaille takes a different approach. As a trained psychiatrist, he organizes his version of focus groups in stages. During the first stage he allows his subjects to gain a sense of accomplishment by justifying their reasoning through logical and rational thinking that he completely ignores. In the second stage, he pursues the more relevant hidden aspects of desire, and that's the ultimate sales trigger he's looking for.
An Affordable Solution
Most businesses certainly can't afford the fees of someone like Clotaire Rapaille, but if you free yourself from conventional thinking and the need to justify and rationalize everything you do then maybe you to can find the hidden triggers of desire that form the code you need to base your marketing on.
Humans have two fundamental needs, survival and improvement; these essential requirements are subdivided into our need for food, shelter, reproduction, acceptance, community, status, and knowledge; these are motivational triggers for everything your audience does and for every cent they spend. While you're knocking your brains out competing for top spot on a Google search, the big boys are delivering what people really want, and laughing all the way to the bank.
If you want your share of the Internet pie, you best discover what really satisfies your audience's hunger, because that's the basis for a marketing message and website presentation that works.
About The Author
Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone (905) 764-1246.