The Web Has Become More Like Real Life

By Josh Satler

 

Let’s start with some questions. Time

How hard is it to build a great reputation in real life for yourself?

Warren Buffet said “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to lose it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

Does a skilled Web designer perfect his craft after one month? Does a star salesman break sales records and close multi-million dollar deals three weeks into his job? Do lawyers typically dominate a closing speech and own the courtroom after their 1st trial?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, you weren’t being honest with yourself. Anything worthwhile in life takes time and there are no shortcuts to succeeding over the long haul.

Guess what? This also applies to your business’s web strategy.

Almost since its inception, the web has created bad habits. Most came to expect success overnight – or in a relatively short time frame, and were inculcated with this thinking. Direct response marketing, rightfully not called advertising, trained business owners and those looking to profit from the web to expect sales day one. No brand awareness, no problem.

Profit not attached to each dollar spent was considered a failure.

If we used the same mindset that we’ve come to expect from online for TV, primetime would be flooded with infomercials you regularly see at 3 am. Advertising would be solely about a quick payout and no efforts would be put towards brand building and long term relationships with customers.

This mindset is outdated. More and more the web is affected by the same rules that apply to our everyday lives.

SEO

Since February 2011, Google has rolled out major Algorithm updates under the names of Panda and Penguin which have targeted websites that game Google in order to be featured atop the results pages. People inherently believe the top results on page 1 to be trustworthy, so tactics which moved companies to that position were desirable while Google was slow to catch on. The problem is that since Panda and Penguin, short-term link building tactics are no longer effective.

A lot of SEO’s have lost their way because building trust with Google is not easy. It takes time, and the signals Google looks for are not easily come by. But that’s Ok, not many things in life are easily come by either. If I want to be known as a trustworthy colleague, I can’t earn that trust in a week or even a month of taking the job. It comes from doing the right thing over and over and earning a reputation for trustworthiness.

Examples of what used to work: comment spam, content farms, paid blog networks, the same  anchor text built in massive quantity across the web, etc.

What works now: relationships with high value blogs which leads to mentions on authoritative sources, quality content distributed across the web that provides real value to an audience, discussion marketing, guest posts, etc.

What is the difference? The latter takes time. Just like real-life.

Reputation

The 2nd biggest shift which mirrors real life is your online reputation. Prior to 2012, we were pretty much a faceless web. Anonymity was to be expected. But not anymore.

If you happen to be found atop the search engines, that no longer guarantees success. It may guarantee traffic, but not actions and sales on your website. Why? Because customers have taken it a step further when vetting companies they may want to do business with. They now scour Google’s results and the directory sites. If they find a link to RipoffReport or another review site when searching Google and it is negative, don’t expect the business.

If you’re a local business, pre 2012 you could be found in Google Maps (or Places) or the organic results, and that was enough. Now, Google’s recent update prominently features ratings on the business’s listing and if the rating is low, that customer will find another company to do business with. Same goes for directories like Yelp.

Reputation is one of the single most important changes overtaking the web today. Businesses need to treat their online reputation like gold. It can no longer become an afterthought or the business will become one. No two ways about it.

Are you ready to approach the web for your business as you’ve approached it in real-life? If not, it may be time to take a step back and think over your strategy.

Shortcuts don’t work in real-life and they rarely do anymore online. And that’s not going to change.

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