how to be number one

September 8, 2009

This is a story about playing to your strengths. It’s about using your strengths to bring people right to your door. It’s about swimming with the fishes, not battling against the tide. It’s about search engine optimisation.

What? It’s about what, you say?

It’s about making it easier for people to find you online by harnessing the power of search engines. By optimising the search engine… er… ation.

As a  New York SEO writer called Byrne Hobart puts it: “It’s possible to get the same kind of branding power that was previously only available to big-budget marketing brands. You can do it quickly, and more cheaply, through search engine optimization.”

He worked with a client, a clothing company. They wanted people to buy their stuff. As Byrne tells us, “They could have spent far more money on branding their store and injecting themselves into the buyer’s thought process; they could have blanketed New York with flyers, radio ads, and direct mailings.” But they didn’t have the budget for all that; and how well would it have worked?

So, as an approach to the thinking involved, here is Byrne again:

Think about the process in more depth. The consumer thinks: “I want some cereal. Which cereal do I like? I like Corn Flakes!”

Now, think about how they buy something that’s sold online: “I want blue plaid shorts. I’ll Google blue plaid shorts.” And what do they find? The first page is ranked #1 because of search engine optimization (my emphasis; click the link to see the dazzlingly simple result).

…Through SEO, they were able to make a small investment go a long way.

What he doesn’t tell us, of course, is how they did it. Because that would be telling. But I bet I’ve got some idea. The brilliant thing was coming up with it in the first place, of course.

The moral of the story is: what have you got? No, really: think small, think one fish in a school of fish. What have you got? Now break it down into smaller bits. Those are what you’re trying to tell people about. Right? Because it’s much better to be Number 1 for blue plaid shorts (and something else, maybe) than somewhere after Number 61 (I just checked) for New York clothing retailers.

I think it’s a great story. And you can apply it to whatever it is you sell, or whatever service you provide.

Byrne’s piece was written  as a guest spot, by the way, on a truly wonderful advertising blog that I have long meant to feature here in Text Pixels. I will, I will.

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3 Responses to “how to be number one”

  1. Andy said

    The joy of longtail phrases.

    Trying to convince someone that being ranked first for something with 200 searches a month is better than being 101st for something with 10,000 searches a month is much harder than it should be.

  2. Ben said

    All true, but some big budgets also get chucked at SEO these days. It’s not going to remain easy for the little guys, though there’ll always be niches.

    Content may also be the most important element when aiming high in the SERPs, but if you’re producing copy for a client with a site that hasn’t had basic optimisation work done on it, you’ve got a seriously uphill struggle.

  3. msbaroque said

    Ben, you’re right of course. I guess I was kind of guessing they had, as they were employing an SEO company.

    Andy, I have a post in mind about that – it has a picture…

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