Imagine Marketing Without the Search Engines . . .
It's always recommended that your website should be built primarily for your visitors and not for the search engines (something that's very easy to forget!). Indeed, Google's webmaster guidelines specifically ask "Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?". Food for thought.
It's worth asking yourself, what would you do if there was no such thing as a search engine?
- How would you attract visitors and earn a living?
- How would people find what they need?
- How would people find your site?
Without search engines, you'd return to doing far more of what humans have always done - communicating.
It sounds like a rudimentary part of marketing, but until you've tried ignoring the search engines and started focusing exclusively on becoming involved in communities and conversations, you won't realize how much actual marketing you are NOT doing.
There are so many forums, blogs and social networking sites out there, even for small niches. And then there are the monster sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. By NOT being active in these online communities you risk losing out on a huge number of potential visitors. And that doesn’t even include offline marketing!
By taking part, you'll soon attract new fans and supporters of your content, which in turn will lead to new site members / clients / purchasers, rather than just waiting for your site to benefit from getting indexed and ranked for your keywords and phrases, or from managing your PPC campaigns.
Traffic from community-based sites can be as targeted as those from the search engines. Users are seeking recommendations from their peers or actively engaged in a specific activity that is relevant to their own site. However, unlike search engine funnelled visitors, they aren’t blindly visiting your website via a query and will know more about you (based on your contributions to the community) than just your page name, your url and a short description. In effect you have pre-sold yourself.
A knock-on positive effect of taking part in community-driven marketing, is that you are forced to work and persuade on a social level that you wouldn't otherwise think about, if you were to focus solely on attracting search engine traffic. You're suddenly much more aware of the value in having a strong brand and reputation.
Give it a go and pretend the search engines don't exist, even if it's just for a week or so. I especially recommend doing this if you’ve got a new website that hasn't yet been ranked, or you feel you’ve already reached a plateau in organic search traffic. Whatever the reason for trying out community-based marketing, I guarantee that you'll soon want to add this to your marketing mix permanently!