Sometimes we experience events in life that are very painful, and while feeling the pain, it's near impossible to understand what good can come from the pain.
I've spent many nights in the last year in tears, confused and hurt from people in my life. Unable to get out of bed, blinds darkening the room stuffing myself with poison filled foods, I barely found motivation to do anything, speak to anyone, even with the people I love or the things I love. By some standards, I should have lost my business, lost my friends, possibly even lose my support from my family.
I feared I lost all passion, approaching losing motivation to live. It's been a dark dreary year. I'm thankful fatherhood's instinctual programming kept me alive.
I lost my granny, my father's mom in January. February my mother passed away while I was holding her hand along with my dear sisters. During the summer, a long loved friend left us at 35. I even left my girlfriend two months ago, while painful, necessary.
As I write this, I'm watching my son practice hockey with a great team. I look back at the year and recognize the lesson's I've learned.
Each event was unique and I'm not sure if I've begun processing them the way the books tell us. I did my research, hours of it. Days, weeks pouring over Internet content for hope, motivation and joy. I became a Facebook whore, obsessive reader and plain old sorry sap. But I never found it on the Internet.
My biggest lesson of the year is relationships. It's all we have in the end.
Whether I was mourning the loss of my mother, or looking for support to finally garner the motivation to not chase my crazy ex girlfriend, no matter how long I went avoiding my friends, the good ones were always there.
It hit me during my trip to Newfoundland, Canada with my dad. I left with my father, returned with a great friend. You see in Newfoundland, things are different, the people are different, really different. As a Canadian, I recognized my ignorance to this lightly populated, diverse island off the east coast of the country. I witnessed humanity in so many ways, I was rejuvenated with faith in people. While I love the United States, something is missing here and it's frankly pretty sad in many ways.
I feel we've lost touch with the most important aspect that makes us human, our ability to properly love another human being. Not just the love that sweeps us off our feet with that special someone, but the love we can give to our friends, siblings, neighbors and even enemies.
While I'm not some life therapist, I need my own help, one thing I know is Internet Marketing for local businesses.
While it's been 8 years that I've been studying the Google algorithm, even in today's day and age, it blows me away that the SEO industry is simply still chasing the algorithm, and forgoing some of the most important aspects of what is required.
Some call is Marketing.
I call it Relationships.
An article I read today from one of the more prominent SEO training websites, SEOMoz (now just MOZ), was discussing how the SEO industry missed a lot of what Hummingbird, Google most recent major update on their 15th anniversary, was about. Social Signals.
I mean, it was about two years ago that Larry Page took back the helm of Google, and one of his first mandates was that all Google employees' bonus would be based on how well the company does socially.
Let's talk some history, before Google history. Google's founders did not set out to build a company, they set out to solve a problem. Like any good inventor. Their mission was to organize the world's information.
It didn't take Larry long to recognize a model from his father, who was a scientist. He recognized that for every time someone cited his father's work, his father's authority would increase. The more citations, the higher the authority.
The more links, the greater the ranking. The higher number of authoritative links or votes from other websites, the likelihood increased that the recipient website would increase in rank.
The original Google algorithm was initially based on relationships.
The term Search Engine Optimization didn't exist, nor did they anticipate such an industry would flourish because of their work.
But it wasn't long before the scientific mind begun to reverse engineer what algorithms Google put in place...there was a lot of money on the table.
But the problem came with the hundred of Google updates. The SEO community kept chasing the algorightm, and changing their strategies as Google changed. It was a complete cat and mouse game.
I'll never forget the day, stoned in my rocking chair, starring at the Google screen sometime in 2007 when it hit me.
Google isn't very good yet, but they are trying to mimic human behavior.
So why am I chasing the algorithm, I will just understand what they want and create that.
Simple enough, right? Fortunately my marketing skills kicked in. A marketing degree coupled with 20 years of business to business sales, I felt I was on to something.
Was I ever.
Since that day in 2007, I've seen every single update support this theory. Everyday Google is getting better and better at understanding human behavior, and for example, they want to send people to busy restaurants. We have to assume restaurants that remain busy have good food and good service.
So when Larry took back the helm, it should have blatently obvious, that Google was no longer a search company, but a social mining company. Like Facebook? I think they are in the exact same business.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook co-founder and CEO, announced the Facebook social graph sometime in 2009. This was a major deal, and a major threat to Google. As a search engine, without the social factors of real people, Google's search would eventually be dramatically compromised.
The Internet finally had the data, users were creating more content than webmasters, so much that today while reading this, users have created more content on the Internet than webmasters created in the first 15 years of the Internet....during a time Google became the fastest growing company, ever.
I guess it was a smart move for Larry, to ensure his company's culture and mindset changed from search to social. They need this information now that it's available to determine the busy restaurants.
You see, businesses that build and flourish relationships on the Internet are the ones that are going to thrive.
In my book, Internet Marketing for Local Business, I discuss the three pillars of Local Search.
Each is about relationships. Take your profiles, it's about giving the right information to the right audience. You, marketing 101 discusses customer segmentation. During this process, you want to segment an audience based off of certain traits, geography, gender, race, income, education to name a few.
So, how can a dude in India understand how to properly create a compelling description without knowing any of the customer segements, or even know that that is?
Your citations, a simple web reference, is just like a link. Why is it important to have a link from China for my Chiropractic firm? It's not relevant. How about the local new publication that printed your article about the effect of homemade chicken broth, or the value of Midwest corn versus Californian?
This has much more relevancy. To get this printed, you'd better have met the local editor for lunch or coffee.
Reviews, are merely the digital form of word of mouth, isn't it? Isn't WOM (word of mouth) advertising the oldest, most effective strategy? This is easy to achieve, under promise and over deliver. Keep your customers happier than their previous experience. Work hard and deliver value. Old School.
The American Marketing Association defines marketing as:
Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
As no surprise, this is the exact formula for SEO, hence why I believe the term SEO should not exist.
But since it does, and people view me as an 'SEOer', then proper SEO is merely quality marketing. Relationships with real people.
Next time you are thinking about getting your business, or your client's business, to the top of the worlds largest and most effect search engine, think about marketing and relationships. In the end, it's all we have as humans.