Running a business today is, at its core, not fundamentally different than running a business thirty years ago, fifty years ago, or even one hundred years ago. You need to offer something that someone else needs, at a price they are willing to pay, and in a way to gets them to come back for more and/or recommend you to others.
What has changed in this landscape is how you communicate what it is that you are trying to sell. Communication systems have changed throughout the years and businesses have always adapted to new means of getting the message out. What is unprecedented about the time we are living in, is the vast audience you can reach through the communication channels now open.
Fifty years ago if you had a store selling widgets in San Francisco and you had a phone you would have your business name and phone number automatically listed in the area phone book. If you were enterprising you might pay for a larger ad or change your name to something starting with an A so you would appear at the top of the list. You would also expect to sell Widgets to people in or around San Francisco because they were the people who could find you. Maybe if you had the best widgets anywhere your reputation would spread by word of mouth and calls would come in from far away places and you could mail your widgets nationally and internationally so that you became
a global seller of widgets.
So how have things changed for our widget shop today? The internet and e-commerce have become prime business real estate. Today, my San Francisco widget shop doesn’t have to be limited by geography at all because they can build a website, be listed in the results when someone searches “widgets” and sell their product to anyone, anywhere in the world. But, our little widget shop is not the only one doing this, and whereas they may have had the San Francisco widget market cornered, they now have to compete with every widget shop, from anywhere in the world that also has a website. This brings us to SEO: making sure that your website (your shop) can be found by the people who are out there looking for what you are selling, whether they are widgets or services. But how is this magic of SEO accomplished? Good question.
The very smart people responsible for creating the brilliant systems by which vast quantities of information and pages are indexed and ranked are not too eager to give away the secrets of how that indexing and ranking is done. Fortunately there are a lot of smart people in the world and there is
a little game of cat and mouse being played between search engines and search engine optimizers. We know a lot of the basics about how to build a website to get it indexed pretty high in the
• Unique content
• Unique offering
• Links to relevant information
• Clear page hierarchy
These are all fairly basic principles in communicating business relevance: have something that people need and want (unique offering) and communicate to them in a clear way what you are offering. The problem is that too many people lose sight of what their core business offering is and what they are trying to accomplish, and become obsessed with SEO rankings at any cost. This is why so often when you conduct a category search, say for flour, you end up with a lot of websites with a loose reference to flour that are selling things completely unrelated to what you want: you may get clicks, but you don’t get sales.