Unless you’ve made your home under a rock for the past ten years, you recognize the ever-growing importance of social media in our society today. Facebook stands at the forefront of the social media empire with 1.2 billion users worldwide, and each of those users has his own personal attachment to his Facebook page. Maybe it’s our unending desire to know other people’s business; maybe it’s our own voyeuristic sensibilities, wanting to share our pictures, our thoughts, and our lives; or maybe it’s just the need for validation, that people “like” what we do. Whatever it is, Facebook continues to be recognized for its “necessity” in our everyday lives, and one aspect of our pages that continues to garner interest or even bring criticism is our relationship statuses: who is dating whom, who is getting married, who is breaking up.
What if we could put a relationship status on our other relationships? How many business relationships would be “complicated?” Since the Panda and Penguin updates, our relationships with online marketing resources have grown more complex, more regulated, and absolutely more in need of a simple, cut-and-dry statement of what we are. It’s time we had the “DTR” conversation; it’s time we define the relationships we’re having.
Perhaps one of the most widely used Facebook statuses would be “single,” as this leaves us unattached but available for anyone to find. But let’s say that we were to put a “single” status on our relationship with online marketing. What does that look like? We do not link our blogs or webinars with other sites, we do not reach out for mutually-beneficial business interactions between websites, and we operate as a sole entity in the world of online marketing.
This can be a very quiet, very alone stance in a business made up and brought to life by connections. With the Panda updates more clearly defining what Google deems to be “bad sites,” we find ourselves shying away from new marketing relationships altogether. We wouldn’t dare to be recognized for having relationships with less-than-savory sites. But trying to make it “single” with your online marketing isn’t a wise choice, especially since this is a business that thrives on networking. Without connections, our businesses have no audience, and if our businesses have no audience, our businesses fail. Staying “single” in a world of connections will do nothing but hurt your business.
Now comes the online marketing relationship status with which most of us find ourselves this year: “It’s complicated.” Loaded down with a sudden abundance of new rules and regulations, fearful of the Google ax chopping down our rankings, and an uncertainty of where to turn have all created a complicated status with our own online presence. Methods that used to work are no longer allowed and we find ourselves searching through our bag of tricks, while trying to avoid the notorious black hat. Some of us are even finding our way back into Google’s good graces, recovering from blows that we didn’t, until now, know how to prevent.
So it’s all gotten complicated, and now what do we do? For starters, we go back to basics. We use the tools that are “Google-approved” and we work on building our sites through well-written, meaningful content. We don’t write content just for content’s sake, but we think about who our audience is and what value we can offer them. We avoid spammy content and do not form relationships with less than reputable sites. Link farming is a thing of the past, and tactics that were once viable are now considered taboo. Just the mentioning of “link buying” in an SEO crowd can bring, as they say, a hush. We aren’t sure what to do anymore, or how to turn our black hats to white. The SEO world will continue to mold and change; it’s how we deal with the temporary complications that define our overall online marketing success.
In a Relationship
Many sites are clearly in relationships with other sites, with the links and backlinks to prove it, and you can always tell which webmasters or bloggers have relationships with certain companies. The Penguin updates of 2012 targeted websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines (keyword stuffing, creating duplicate content, etc.), thus shrinking their search engine presence.
What’s the best way to keep your rankings high and keep traffic coming your way? Be in a relationship with the owners of the sites you want to be connected with. People link to people they like (in life and in business). Also, be in a relationship with your readers, as well as others that link to your site, by creating authentic and interesting content that will make visitors stay on your page longer than a quick click in and out. Good relationships are built on good communication, no? So communicate effectively with your visitors, make them stay longer and make them come back. End the relationships that are negatively affecting your site’s rankings; check all of the links to your site using Open Site Explorer. Break up with the bad links, and build on the good ones you have with worthy webmasters and non-spammy sites.
This all being said, don’t pull a junior-high mistake and start a relationship just to be in a relationship. Make sure you’re making the right choices with site-owners and webmasters. In 2011, 33% of divorce filings contained the word “Facebook,” relationships gone sour due to the publicity of personal lives. In our world of online marketing, incorrectly handling relationships with our digital business connections, or forming unethical relationships, can result in a swift and lasting divorce with our online presence through Google’s standards.
Getting Serious by DTR
In our society, ‘defining the relationship’ is seen as a crucial moment in a union, one that can receive criticism or praise, and one that Facebook has made public knowledge. In our world of online marketing, it’s important in a different way to establish and define our relationships. Trying to go it alone will lead to nothing but a lonely website, and since the Google updates, it’s easy to find ourselves in complicated situations, unsure of what really works anymore. But if we can get rid of unhealthy relationships while building beneficial relationships with webmasters, bloggers, columnists and other businesses by using well-written content and engaging websites, our outreach can be not only successful, but lasting.