Martin (Marty) Smith
August 4, 2014

Invisible Giant: Why Its Hard To See the New SEO

SEO's Invisible Giant Curatti cover graphic by Ealk on BeHance

Invisible Giant Graphic
Click GIANT to see fastest “views” Haiku Deck we’ve ever created. (8.6.14 Blowing Up Haiku Deck note added to bottom.)

The New SEO’s Invisible Giant

“You can’t get there from here anymore,” is what I should have said. Instead I wrote a long email explaining how SEO, content marketing, PPC (Pay Per Click) and community are in a big bowl of spaghetti. The return email said, “We just want to return to a time when our bookkeeper could manager our SEO,” proving nothing in long emails ever works :).

“We don’t need something of that SCALE,” the potential client continued. He just wanted to do a little something and make a million bucks like before. At one time his website was worth over $1M in sales. Now the site is ringing up $900K. Soon it will do half of that. Hollow victories of the past can’t stand up to the new invisible giant.

This post shares 5 reasons the new SEO is hard to see:

  • Google’s Float & Filter Bubbles.
  • Social Media Marketing.
  • Friends of Friends Marketing.
  • Multi-Channel Online Marketing.
  • Web’s “fabric” like “Space/Time” with “long tails.

Filter Bubble & You graphic

Google’s Floating Filter Bubble

Back in the day when you and I typed the same search at the same time and the same result came up NO MATTER where we were or WHO we are Google’s ad inventory was static. They could only sell page 1 ads to a limited set of buyers. Then Google figured out how to float their index.

Now if you and I type the same search at the same time the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) presented may be slightly to remarkably different. Ad inventory now slouches toward infinity. Especially when you factor in Google’s “filter bubble”.

Eli Pariser in a #mustwatch TED Talk discusses the closing ranks, the filter bubble forming around each of us. Search engines and social nets, in their drive to provideĀ  “relevance” are making choices about what we see. Choices are based on what we’ve viewed in the past, what our friends have or are viewing and many other variables determine what we see.

It is to reach ME (or anyone). Getting customers to interact with YOUR marketing has never been harder. We are surrounded by a fortress. Google, social networks and content networks create an unclimbable Berlin wall. Well inside the wall are my friends powering a little piece of the social / mobile web. Best chance to influence my (or anyone’s) buying decisions is through friends.

We are islands living behind filter bubble walls. No broadcast anything reaches our shores. We DVR through commercials, swipe away annoying emails and spend more time online with friends even as our tolerance for “ads” declines. Want to win our heart or mind? Better pitch us through a trusted friend.

As if those factors weren’t confusing enough Google is removing data from Google Analytics. When people visit your website logged into Google their behavioral data goes into a “not provided” aggregate bucket. As a site’s “not provided” data goes above 50% predictive modeling is the only way to recover critical information.

At our Startup Factory funded startup called Curagami our tool helps marketers create online community. Asking your advocates and evangelists shows you are LISTENING. ASK questions of you tribe and you replace “not provided” with real feedback. You go Google one better. You control your future.

Be Social Facebook icon on Curatt

Social Media Marketing’s Disappearing Act

Summarizing social media marketing without an ORM (Online Reputation Management) tool is impossible. Even with a well calibrated and powerful tool such as Radian6 (part of SalesForce now) its hard to see generations of social media shares:

You share Content (first generation)
Friends and Fans share your content (second generation)
Their friends and fans share your content possibly with different attribution (third generation)
Their friends and fans share your content very possibly with different attribution (fourth generation)
and so on…

Your content is doing what you want it to do – moving away from you, making friends and influencing people. The further your content marketing gets from sites you own or rent (your Facebook page for example) the harder attribution becomes. Each generation (of shares) destroys a little attribution.

You might think content you shared yesterday really STUNK compared to your norms. Maybe, maybe not depending on what is happening out there in the 3rd, 4th and 5th generation shares. YES, the stage today is set similar so you can ASSUME similar things about how your content is playing. The idea you know anything with any degree of righteous certainty is absurd no matter what tools you use.

Friends of Friends Marketing  graphic

Friends of Friends Marketing

For the fist time the Search Exchange Conference was QUIET and focused. My friend and Curagami co-founder Phil Buckley just said the double f word = Friends of Friends marketing. Phil was the last speaker of Day 2, but he had everyone’s attention. Sometimes team Curagami feels like astronauts.

We’ve traveled to this new proxy planet called Friends of Friends marketing. On earth tactical Internet marketing is becoming resource starved. The Friends of Friends marketing planet is rich and getting richer. The promise of building something of substance NO ONE can easily take away is part of what hushed several hundred Internet marketers.

Phil and Curagami’s message is simple – THERE MUST BE SOMETHING BETTER. Something more authentic, real and human than one more batch and blast email about a never ending sale or hoping technical SEO can save the day again (it can’t).

Team Curagami has seen the promised land.

The creation of community, ASKING for help from advocates and friends and creating FUN and PLAY is the future of successful online marketing. There is a good chance YOU and your Internet marketing team will be able to own MORE of your marketing future.

The last bullet point on the Friends of Friends marketing slide may be the most important. Your content, products and company MUST create “Movement Marketing”. You can’t get the kind of sacrifice every brand needs without people JOINING your movement.

People don’t BUY brands they JOIN them.

Faith Popcorn (and one of my favorite quotes because everyday Popcorn’s quote becomes MORE true)

Sales are important. Sales communicate deadlines and make people feel smart and special, but sales in and of themselves are not a movement and so not motivating to Friends of Friends marketing. With our client Moon Audio we are creating an “umbrella” movement called Music is A Movement. Movements help you ask for and receive User Generated Content (UGC).

In Music Is A Movement Moon Audio, a manufacturer of audio cable and reseller of headphones and earphones, will find something bigger than themselves to contribute to (music for children, cure for cancer, heart disease). They will have a big CHIP in the game. That “big chip” means they can ASK customers to share why music is special. Moon Audio can ask what music their customers like. Listening more than talking is what makes an online community valuable.

Moon Audio is going to have a great Holiday selling season this year.

Multi-Channel Maketing graphic on Curatti

Multi-Channel Marketing

Once you have more than one “channel” such as organic SEO, content marketing, social marketing, video marketing, Pay Per Click (PPC) and email marketing the giant has many hiding places. Attribution, the magician’s trick we discussed earlier, becomes epidemic as channels multiply (example above is random since “best balance” is highly diverse by business and business segment).

Our COPE (Create Once Publish Everywhere) process blurs influence and attribution into a giant stew. Modeling and generous “upstream” attribution crediting content that may seem absent at conversion but may have gotten the conversion ball rolling in the first place is smart.

Trying to tie attribution, influence and clout down like a steer waiting for a brand is a waste of time.

There is no 2 + 2 = 4 in Internet marketing. There is 2 + 2 = zebra Internet marketing. Joy Ito, in another great TED talk, discusses the need for a compass instead of an inflexible plan. He says believe in the network’s ability to supply anything you need and remember to be “super engaged”. Become a NOWIST Ito says and we agree.

Multi-Channel marketing requires Joy Ito’s flexible “near real time” approach.

Web's Fabric like Space/Time

Web’s Fabric Is Like Space/Time

Ever wonder what the web looks like INSIDE? We use Einstein’s ideas for how space is a connected fabric with gravity created by planets to imagine the web. As planet’s divot the brilliant combination of space and time Einstein so famously named “Space/Time” they create gravity. The more mass a planet has the greater the gravity.

We imagine Google, Facebook and Twitter as large planets with big divots and lots of web “gravity”.

As your site matures, your content gets better and your online community grows the size of your divot increases. As a website’s divot increases gravity increases. As gravity increases traffic increases. More “traffic” falls into the website’s “orbit”. Do everything just right and a “virtual cycle” is created.

An online “virtual cycle” is a positive engine feeding on itself and generating more and more good things (links, shares, likes) faster and faster. The size of your divot is increasing faster than you could dream. The economics of the most connected network the world has ever known are working in your favor. Life is good and you want everything to continue just like this forever and a day.

But it never does.

Instead your online marketing hits what you think is a tiny bump. Actually you’ve run smack into the Giant’s foot. Irritate the giant at your peril. Best to SEE as much of the “new SEO” as you can. Use Ito’s compass and avoid Pariser’s filter bubbles as you empower a tribe of warrior/fans to march with your tools to help build the next sandcastle at a beach where the tide is always coming in.

The Giant Disappears Again In Near Real Time

Interesting thing happened today. Our Invisible Giant: Why The New SEO Is So Hard To See Haiku Deck disappeared along with my entire account. I used G+ to let the Haiku Deck team know the two parts of my pain:

  • Wanted to fix a note and couldn’t because my account was gone.
  • Checked the embed links and sure enough they were breaking.

Haiku Deck is a widget. I use code from them to embed the content at the top of this page (and on other pages). One of the ways your content can go viral is if it is easy to share. Grabbing the embed code is easy SO others can embed and share the deck too. When OTHERS share YOUR content you win.

Widgets like Slideshae, Haiku Deck and YouTube make powerful “empower the Ambassador layer” tools. The other cool part about the distributed nature of “widgetized” content is a single source is controlling many points of distribution. This means I can CHANGE the deck at the source and those changes are instantly fed all the way out to the network of people who’ve embedded the content.

Other side of that coin is when the source is down EVERYONE is down. SO, seeing the breaking link to my Haiku Deck I realized there was a bigger problem than just me. Many people have been sharing and talking about this deck. Those shares are what is making this my fastest “views” deck ever (almost 1,000 views in a day and a half despite having the servers go down).

Widgetizing content means YOU become the “traffic cop” of a large distributed network of advocates and helpers. I removed the link at the top of this post and shared the disappearing giant story on social media providing this post as an alternative way to “see” the now doubly disappearing “new seo” Giant. The network, some of whom I know and some I don’t, followed my lead letting their readers know there was a problem but the same information could be found in another location.

ALL OF THIS is happening in “near real time”, not THIS SECOND but as close as you can get. Haiku Deck LISTENS, shares and supports their customers on social media marketing. Within MINUTES of my notification note here is the “confirming” Tweet I received from the team at Haiku Deck:

You’re deck was too hot to handle, Marty šŸ˜‰ Looks like servers are down; our team is investigating… hold tight!

In 15 minutes serves were restored and I could blow the “all clear” restoring the link and letting the distributed network of curators who’ve shared the Invisible Giant know Haiku Deck was back. If your thought is WOW what an opportune way to demonstrate so many of the topics covered in the post we agree.

We know authority, transparency and honesty are beyond important to marketing in a social / mobile / digital time. How to EXPRESS those values is what we are all working HARD on now. Turns out things happening in “near real time” have LARGE authority, transparency and honesty scores.

When sharing BAD THINGS in an open and honest way they become GOOD THINGS. Shares of this post went up 3% and I bet at least 10% by time all is said and done. The BAD THING, Haiku Deck being down, becomes a GOOD THING when communicated, shared and treated with calm honesty and transparency.

By using social media to inform the distributed network sharing The Invisible Giant they know WE appreciate and care about their shares making more shares likely. Heck we got a 3% bump from BEING DOWN (lol). I can’t think of a better “near real time” example of the Invisible Giant’s power, power it’s easy to misplace, forget about or misuse.

Don’t do that is our best advice (lol). Thanks to team at Haiku Deck for listening and being so responsive. One of the comments on this post asked why we use Haiku Deck instead of Slideshare. Both are great tools, but they do different things. Slideshare has SEO power like almost nothing else.

Haiku Deck helps me know WHAT to say and HOW to say it. Haiku Deck is “painterly” and artistic. It helps me “see” new dimensions in ideas and memes by suggesting visual ideas. Sometimes those visual ideas spark new ways of thinking about the problem. At the very least Haiku Deck’s visual clues helps weave a more robust story, a better tapestry.

Since it is easy to create a Slideshare from Haiku Deck that is how my process has evolved. I use Haiku Deck to SEE and understand and Slideshare to lock the SEO and searches their community brings. I’ve spoken with Haiku Deck about creating a “my account” page were we can share our decks, a page I would promote in the same way I promote my “magazine” page. Currently there is no “public” summary of my decks, no HaikuDeck/MartinSmith.

Team Curagami believes is a VALUABLE “subdomain” that every online community needs. Faster YOU give CUSTOMERS pieces of your site the bigger and faster your online brand scales. Appreciate all the great shares, comments and help we are getting with the Invisible Giant post and darn if that giant doesn’t keep disappearing on us (lol).

Great Giant image is (c) Ealk on Behance.

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Passionate cancer survivor, Internet marketer and former Director of Ecommerce who believes in Margaret Mead's quote, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Glad to be an "Editor of Chaos".

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