Rob over at Business Pundit has an interesting post comparing Coca-Cola's distribution channels with distribution channels for blogs. He writes how Coca-Cola was able to enter a competitive market, the bottled water market, because of the sheer size of their distribution channels. He writes:
At the time, Coca-Cola had (and may still have, I don't know) distribution channels that reached wider and deeper and farther than any other company on the planet. I saw a movie once about how cases of Coke were flown to remote locales in helicopters. You can really get this stuff anywhere. Now, you know what that means for Dasani [Coca-Cola's bottled water product].
Rob goes on to compare Coca-Cola's strategy to good blogging. He says that to get a blog readership, you can't just have good content (your product). You need to have distribution channels so that internet users can find your blog posts. I took Rob's points on building distribution channels and applied them to SEO. To me, links are the distribution channels that SEOs seek to build. The bolded text are Rob's points while the comments afterward are mine.
Attracting a blog audience and building offline distribution channels takes time. So does SEO. I think many beginning search marketers don't realize this. I remember when I first heard about SEO. I bought some domain names, created some sites, built some links, and thought I would get a massive amount of search traffic in a month's time. Well, I was disappointed. But I did learn that SEO was a long-term deal.
You could be link building a new site and not be in the top 100 of Google. And then, seemingly overnight, after a couple of weeks, you get on the 2nd or 3rd page for a competitive two-word phrase. SEO just takes time and if you're not willing to be patient, you will get discouraged.
In the long-term, search engines follow people. And what do people like? Uniqueness. Creativity. Something new. Something that's never been done before.
If you don't find a way to stand out from the crowd, your SEO efforts will be much harder. You'll be building links one by one while someone writes a creative article that gets on Digg's frontpage and nets him 500 organic links. Not bad for a day's work. Creating unique content and doing unique marketing takes more effort but the ROI is much better than doing what everyone else is doing.
Be unique. Don't get in a rut. Try things that haven't been done in your niche. Experiment with your content, marketing, and monetization. If you fail, at least you know what doesn't work. And people will begin to notice you and link to you because you're not like everyone else.
SEO has become a much more social activity. I used to think of SEOs as people who would spend hours doing keyword research and tweaking title tags. There's nothing wrong with those activities. But I think today a quality search marketer needs to have good online networking skills.
Keywords and title tags still matter, of course. But they don't matter as much as getting a bunch of trusted links. And how do you get trusted links these days? Well, you either have to have a lot of money, but then you still won't get a contextual link from Tech Crunch. The owner of Tech Crunch, Mike Arrington, doesn't sell contextual links like a Pay Per Post blogger. But if you know Mike Arrington and have a website related to his blog, you'll get a link. And it will be free.
Network with other webmasters. Get know the bloggers in your niche. Be friendly with forum members and social media users. People like to link to their friends. Imagine if you knew someone at an offline publishing company. Or a journalist. Suddenly, your unique content piece has a lot better chance of getting traffic just from that one business contact.
However, I did spend 24 years of schmoozing and paying it forward??? to get to the point where I could spend $0 to launch a company. Many bloggers got bent out of shape: The only reason Truemors is getting so much coverage is that its Guys site.??? To which my response is, You have a firm grasp of the obvious.???
If people know you online, you'll get links just for being known. You're content may not even be that great. Now you don't have to be as famous as Guy to have success. But strive to build a reputation within your niche by building friendships with the key players.
Finally, here's what great about contacts. They do take time to develop, but once you have a good business friendship, it will lead to links, other contacts, advice, partnerships, and maybe even funding and profitable business opportunities for the long-term.
So, are you building relationships with other webmasters?
Distribute but Don't Spam
This relates to networking and building contacts. Market your best stuff but don't overdo it. Nothing wrecks a online reputation like spamming. Treat your readers, consumers, and business contacts well. Don't be the person that always looks to "take". Give of yourself too and help your contacts on a regular basis.
Further reading that's somewhat related: An oldie but a goodie, Link Development vs. Traffic Development and Staying with the Times