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April 20, 2009
What if Google Died?
 
Calm down, don’t get all upset! I've got nothing against the big G.
 
In fact, I'm a huge supporter. I have 2 widescreen 19inch monitors on my desk and the left one is almost always set to my customized iGoogle homepage. It is the launch pad for much of my online work.
 
But what would you do if Google turned off their servers, packed up their bags and went on a long vacation? How would that impact your business?
 
Well, no doubt my iGoogle homepage would be gone. Online research wouldn’t be as easy as it once was. PPC campaigns would come to a halt. And the advertising on so many websites would cease. The list could go on and on. Suffice to say I'd feel the impact and so too would my business and that of my clients.
 
The loss of these services aside I think this is a question every business owner should ask themselves.
 
You see, there are far too many people that plan their businesses around the search engines. They want their website to appear on page one and they're gunning for a boat load of traffic.
 
SEO and search engines are a vital part of pretty much every business these days. So they shouldn’t be forgotten. But in the rush to crank up traffic something very important is getting lost along the way. Something is being ignored.
 
And that something is the essence of every business.
 
Go ahead, run all your SEO magic. Observe as your site's traffic increases. See it growing even more. And then watch all your visitors disappear.
 
In the hustle and bustle of getting new visitors to your website, business owners are forgetting that top rankings and traffic are meaningless unless you give your visitors a reason to stay. A reason to engage. And a reason to buy.
 
Heck, you can get traffic anytime you want if you pay for it with PPC advertising.
 
So forget traffic, even for just a moment, and look at the core of your website, your offering and your business. Are you giving your visitors something to talk about? Does your offer stand out from the crowd?
 
You can go about this in two ways. You can build traffic focusing on tricking this, gaming that, and getting the search engines to 'love you' – but this will only last until they find the next business to love. Or you can build something that is so unique and offers such great value that people can't help but to keep coming back and telling others about it.
 
The first method will give you some pretty numbers to look at for a while and if you're lucky you'll be able to keep enough visitors to make things last. The second, if done properly will give you more traffic and a more loyal following than the first method ever could.
 
Again, I'm not advocating that you forget about SEO and the search engines. On the contrary, you need to consider both of these and work them into your marketing mix. But build your whole business revolving around them and you're pretty much putting all your bets on something you can't control.
 
Search engines have, shall we say, a mind of their own. They may give you a number one ranking today but they just might dish you out a number 34 next week.
 
Focus on the core of your business first. Make sure your model is air-tight. Give your visitors something that they can’t get anywhere else, layer that with all the value you can and you're giving people a reason to come back to your website, to talk about you, and to buy from you for potentially a very long time.

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Michael Zipursky is a direct-marketing and advertising consultant and copywriter. His clients range from consulting and resource firms to billion dollar technology manufacturers and include Panasonic, Financial Times, Dow Jones, and Nissha, Sumitomo, among others. He is the president of Relagy Marketing and co-founder of Business Consulting Buzz, an online resource for consultants and the consulting industry.

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