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Letter From Lugano

‘Human Value’ and Search Marketing

James Atkinson - Friday, February 28, 2014


I said yesterday that many marketers mistakenly believe that building a successful business is just a matter of using technical skills – marketing, driving traffic, and so on. 

But the truth is that it’s nearly impossible to get online traffic and sales these days without strong ‘human value’ elements.

A business needs to know what its market wants and be able to deliver it with strong, unique value propositions. This creates the best environment for your marketing to achieve maximum performance. Of course you need the technical side too – no question. The technical skills are the delivery mechanism for your human value.

Being able to effectively undertake search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, and pay-per-click advertising (AdWords) means you can get your message in front of your target audience.

But the way internet marketing is taught usually omits the engine that powers the whole business – the value that you can create for your prospects and customers.

There are three major sources of continuous traffic online: search engine organic results, PPC, and social networking. To succeed with each of these three major traffic sources, you must provide excellent human value.

Organic Search Results and Human Value

What the search engines want is relevance. They want to give their users the most useful and helpful search results. Quality, relevant free content is the foundation of high search engine rankings.

Relevant, high-quality content is the exact thing that will attract and engage your prospects! So in reality, what the search engines want in order to give you high rankings is exactly what is also going to best serve your interests -  give users what they want!

Black Hat SEO: Is it a viable shortcut or waste of time?

Many black hat SEO tactics try to trick the search engines in order to get high rankings. Black hat tactics are sold as an easy and fast way to get high rankings.

The problem for black hat marketers is that Google always wins.

After all, we’re on their playing field. Google controls its own rankings algorithms. And eventually they will design a penalization algorithm that will “slaps” a particular black hat tactic.

Trying to trick the search engines into giving you high rankings is an exercise in futility. The days of cranking out auto-generated sites stuffed with spam content are over. Black hat tactics (like creating a bunch of sites that all link to a “hub” or “money” page to temporarily boost its rankings) just don’t work anymore. See White Hat vs Black Hat SEO.

Sometimes Google does allow a black hat tactic to “succeed” for a while, just so they can study how it works. Then they'll design a very comprehensive penalization update based on their findings!

Google integrates information across the PPC, organic, and social networking landscapes. The other search engines are following suit.

A high organic ranking can help your PPC quality score. Users sharing your content on the social networks can help your organic rankings. A low quality standard in any of the three areas will impact on the others – see What is SEO?

These are just a few examples of how Google is now operating in a synergistic way – so you need to as well.

Adhering to high quality standards across all three areas (organic, PPC, and social) will give you maximum performance (more traffic, higher rankings and ad placements, lower costs).

Quality content that demonstrates an in-depth understanding of your topic’s themes is an absolute must for high organic rankings.

The search engines are looking for sites that sound like experts. Sites need to cover their topics thoroughly and demonstrate an understanding of the themes and words a topic expert would use naturally.

Off-page ranking criteria are rapidly changing. The old “link popularity” algorithm that looked at how many links you had pointing to your page has been sidelined.

Google now looks at social networking as a user “voting” system to identify the sites with the best-quality, most relevant content. Social activity is also much harder to manipulate than link popularity.

Ultimately, the search engines are all about relevance, and that’s not going to change. The search engines want to deliver the results that best meet users’ needs.

Google and the other engines will reward the sites that understand this.

Social Networks and Human Value

The social networks are too important for marketers to ignore. It’s not a question of if you’ll start doing social networking, but when. The social networks are where “conversations” in your market happen, and you’ve got to be there.

Besides chatting and making friends, users come to social networks for non-promotional content, advice, opinions, and reviews. As they gather information, their views about the market are being shaped.

Social networking that gets results is a very different animal to traditional direct response internet marketing. Social network users don’t tolerate direct promotion. It won’t work and you may well ruin your reputation as a result.

What does work on social networks is to build trust, relationships and community with two-way interactions and quality, relevant, engaging content.

In order to do this, you must focus on what the people in your market want to know about, and you have to engage with them socially. With the right strategy, these relationships translate to sales.

There is no automated shortcut, but the rewards are enormous.

You can build up a community of friends who share your content throughout the social landscape. This “ripple effect” continuously expands your visibility and influence in the market.

Social networking is now the major off-page organic rankings factor at Google. Google is paying close attention to social networks as a user-generated “heat map” of where the most relevant, helpful sites are.

It’s getting harder and harder to trick the system and get traffic without attention to what real people want.

Sites that don’t comprehend the new traffic environment will find themselves unable to compete. Smart marketers who understand the new landscape will find themselves ahead of the curve.

As Google increasingly incorporates social activity into its ranking algorithms, marketers who built strong social communities will find that they have laid a very solid foundation for their business by going in the same direction as Google.

To be successful you need to find out what people want and then give it to them. Then, all you need to do is spend time to acquire the technical skills, like SEO and PPC, that will effectively deliver your message and get targeted traffic.

In other words: Focus on satisfying people and the traffic and money will follow!

Pay-per-Click (PPC) and Human Value

There are still a lot of short-term business models operating in PPC, such as affiliates who only focus on the first sale without an email list or a viable backend.

However, these online advertisers are usually forced to drop out quickly. PPC is expensive and costs are rising, which means that many advertisers have to break even or lose money on the first sale. This makes an email list and backend sales process absolutely essential.

To be successful with PPC, advertisers must have a deep knowledge of their market so that they can write copy that attracts high click-through and conversion rates.

These marketers also need to build a relationship with ongoing value providing free content and related products. See - The Back End.

Google imposes human value criteria for advertisers in its Quality Score. A good Quality Score mean ads cost less. A low Quality Score means Google will slap you with higher ad costs.

Many businesses that drive 100% of their traffic with PPC are not cost-effective because they have not learned the importance of providing ‘human value’ in their websites.

Do you need to be a talented writer or marketer to provide your prospects and customers with human value? Let’s find out in the next blog.

Today's photo is the village of Morcote on Lake Lugano.




jeremiah Billup commented on 12-Aug-2014 03:10 AM
Helpful info. Fortunate me I discovered your website by accident, and I am stunned why this twist of fate did not came about in advance! I bookmarked it.

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