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Search Engine Marketing is about Conversations – my (errr…) Manifesto

Somewhere near the top of the Cluetrain Manifesto, you will find the following statement:

These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.

These words were penned in same general timeframe (read: +/- a couple of years) that Sergey and Larry were cooking up a way to measure and evaluate those conversations for their relevance.

It was the late 1990′s and while the conversations, the communities that house those conversations and the algorithms that evaluate them have all increased in complexity, THE FOUNDATIONAL PRINCIPLE (in my opinion) HAS REMAINED RELATIVELY SIMPLE AND UNDEFILED.

I offer the following opinions for your consideration:

The goal is to BE an authority.

To do that is more than just knowing your stuff.

You must enter the arena of ideas.

You MUST write. (see above.)

You must converse. (markets are conversations…)

You must converse on other peoples sites as well as your own. And in their online communities as well. And even borrowing their authority where allowed if you do not yet have enough of your own. (If you only discuss your thoughts with yourself, then you by definition cannot be considered by others to be an authority.)

You must be authentic. (see above again.)

You must build and form solid lasting relationships that are reflected online as well as off. That includes respecting the writings of other and linking to ones that are authoritative. You cannot get long term without giving.

You must participate in the ongoing discussions of your industry AND MORE IMPORTANTLY LOCALLY – with people who can actually become clients. You need to be a respected voice both by colleagues and potential clients.

You need to find the biggest microphone available to reach out to the widest audience, not to overtly promote or argue, but to converse, engage, brand, market and build.

That may include many types of earned media.

My authority building approach over the past couple of years has morphed to coach and consult and teach folks to have conversations in places where Google and other search engines can easily find and give credit for the authority of those conversations and NOT to hire someone to create those relationships FOR them.

In other words, build your OWN authority. Naturally. BE an Authority.

Part of that is to avoid wasting time in building authority in places where either no credit is given or it is not noticeable to the search engines. (There are plenty of those places out there in the real estate world in my opinion) (Hint: Google doesn’t count POINTS ;-) ) No one ever gave a search engine spider an IQ test…and it is a good thing. ;-)

Okayfine, why is it important to bring these basic principles up again and remind myself? How does this apply to us as REALTORS (trying to make a living in a tough environment)?

Well, we only have a limited amount of time…and yet the number of venues, online communities, and places to put content continue to GROW.

IF we have the conversations. WHERE we have the conversations. WHO we have the conversations with. and HOW we build the relationships that result from the conversations…

Those are all seeming to me to be more important decisions than ever before…and they were important then. Right now, when each marketing move NEEDS to throw a strike and / or skin a cat, these decisions IMHO are critical.

What is your manifesto?

Related posts:
  • Marketing Channels: It’s a matter of trust (and conversations).
  • Trulia – A search engine?
  • M-soft bids for Yahoo! What does it mean for search?

  • 8 comments

    8 Comments so far

    1. Genuine Chris Johnson July 22nd, 2009 8:54 pm

      Man, I’m just engaging here locally in columbus. We were planning a move to Portland, OR for this fall. Sadly, the wife had to go to OSU (a better ranked school, but not the first choice) so we’re here 2.5 more years.

      But local rocks.

    2. Teri L July 23rd, 2009 6:56 am

      I love it when you write, Eric, but when you write a Manifesto, you positively shine.

      I find the local conversations are deeper, more, um, well, important. I’m sometimes hesitant to get involved in these conversations, I don’t know why, I’m typically welcomed and occasionally even valued, go figure ;). It’s simply much more satisfying to contribute something of value to the local community than the national community. It’s a richer experience all around.

    3. Be An Authority July 23rd, 2009 7:05 pm

      [...] and once again made me pause in my hectic day to think about my own personal marketing. Search Engine Marketing is about Conversations – my (errr…) Manifesto. He wrote about search engine marketing, and very neatly summed up the equation for success for any [...]

    4. Greg Dallaire July 24th, 2009 4:27 am

      Eric,

      Establishing a strong local online presence is a great way to build SEO but also build strong bond’s with people locally through online channels. I can’t tell you how many people i’m meeting with off of twitter, facebook, newspaper blog sites and others.

      This community is a perfect example of where we should be spending our time building online relationships that have authority!

    5. Benjamin Dona July 24th, 2009 4:51 am

      While I love chatting with my peers, I’d much rather prefer talking with folks that can either increase my knowledge or enrich my pocketbook. That means mentors and prospective clients.

      Being in primarily a second home market also means I have to go beyond just my local outlets in order to reach our client base. I’ve found that some of the smaller niche networks and blogs are a good place to focus our efforts.

      It’s time consuming, but well worth the effort.

    6. Eric Blackwell July 24th, 2009 5:10 am

      @Teri- Awww shucks.

      Yep. Even though my client base is far more national than local I must admit that I am finding closer and closer connections to those in close proximity.

      I do also think it boils down to people who I could call client. If I am networking with them, them I am building authority AND building it with the right folks IMO.

      Hey Ben! (long time no talk to….I was waiting for someone to pick up on my point about writing on other peoples’ sites and utilizing that authority. ;-)

      Hope things are going great for you!

    7. Benjamin Dona July 24th, 2009 7:51 am

      Hey Eric,

      Our market has just exploded down here, so I’ve been busy as can be since the first of the year.

      And, you know me; I just like to quietly go about my business.

      I do make an effort though to follow the advice of experts like yourself and am extremely grateful that you so freely give out loads of good advice.

      Thanks my friend!

    8. Mark Green July 25th, 2009 6:56 am

      Hey Eric,

      Your presentation at Unchained really moved me and here you are again keeping it real and reinforcing the power of giving…

      I don’t know what happened over the past couple of years with our leadership in the mortgage business. Well, I take that back – I know exactly what happened.

      You’re the kind of guy that people will run through a wall for – just like when that guy 301′ed his sites over to you when you won that SEO contest.

      I’m sorry that I haven’t been as active over at BHB over the past month. Mortgage Revolution has taken all my extra time. This article was very refreshing and reinforced to me that all this time volunteering & giving is totally worth it.