As an amateur blogger, I never quite realized till recently the importance of SEO in the lives of ordinary small time business owners.They increasingly discover that an appropriate ‘Digital’ presence and meaningful content that is continuously refreshed and innovated are the bare minimum requirements in order to survive and prosper in the digital jungle.
There is a potent strategy that is unleashed by having a website, listing with popular search engines, having presence on social media sites and leveraging a medium like Google Hangout.
I came across this article on the Net written by a lady who has been running a ‘Bed-and-Breakfast’ in one of the smaller resort towns by the sea in England for many decades now. It is a family owned business and she is helped by a few relatives in running it. She used to rely on traditional means of promoting business through a mix of referrals, tie-ups with local travel and tourist operators and publicizing through newspaper & radio. Everything changed when she learnt that listing her business in Google and ensuring a top page rank in Google Searches can drive enormous traffic to her business.
And what started as a small part-time activity is a vital cog in her sales strategy now – she does zany things to attract and retain attention by posting home-made recipes online, publishes weather schedules, participates in relevant forums online, promotes local business who return her favour, organizes small parties, offers discounts and prizes for people participating online.
She has heard of the term ‘Search Engine Optimization’ and knows that there are professionals around who are in the business of getting the right triggers going to get the eyeballs. She ruefully admits that she can’t afford the cost and possibly rationalizes it also by saying the she is not quite convinced that they can do a better job then her in showcasing her business. She has heard of SEOs going wrong and knows that the rules of the game keep changing forever at a frenetic pace. Meanwhile she chugs along by making small experiments and shares her feedback with a like-minded forum to get fresh ideas for her business.
For a lady who admits to be past her prime, to be able to relish the challenge of attracting and retaining attention on the Google website (she openly admits that she is not interested in other Search Engines as she cannot afford to stretch herself thin) is an admirable story and a testament to the efforts she is willing to put in for her business. And it is rather touching of her to admit that she does not quite know how it works – whether inherently it is fair and hard work pays off or only some smart tricks can get you the bacon. But it is addictive for a person who has savoured some success with the tool.
I recall the poster my boss had on his desk when I was working in a sales team –
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” ― Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
He needed to see it everyday morning to get a ‘reality-check’ on things and motivate himself in the perpetual race to attract and retain patronage of finicky customers who were impatient and had enough other options available in life. But he was practical about this paranoia and never let it ruin his humour and enthusiasm for life. He would put up the chin to take the blows and bruises, but switched gears after leaving office. He jovially mentioned that it enabled him to return the next day morning to resume the bout.
It also reminds me of a popular anecdote about the constant to retain ones ‘attraction quotient’. It is mentioned that the popular playwright, short story writer and novelist, Somerset Maugham received a lot of fan mail and enjoyed replying to them in his trademark style. Once a lady wrote to confide in him that she was in love. She went to wonder on how she could get her man, and even more, how if she got him, she could hold him. Maugham answered, ‘The way to get a man is to be sexually attractive; the way to hold him is to be sexually satisfactory’. Touché! A cynical reply in the eyes of some, Maugham’s numerous fans would regard it to be witty. So it is a tribute to his peculiar talent for candour against a lesser talent’s trick of debasing.
Indeed the digital jungle is not that very different from the minutiae of everyday life. Just put in a sincere effort and learn from your mistakes.The world is not out to get you though things keep changing at a rapid pace. If you can match the step, then get up and dance on every chance that comes your way.