With the advent of increasing innovations to digital technology that progressively put power into the individual’s hands to market themselves on the Internet, whether you are a writer or not, the present and future of making a decent living online will go to those who can attain and retain a loyal online following. This means that it would behoove independent authors to think of themselves as more than simply authors of their books, but also marketers, because there is a difference between writing a book and selling one. But this is true for virtually any entrepreneur or company on the Internet, not just independent authors.
SEO Is Like The Search For Enlightenment
We’ve been trying to figure out for the longest time how to develop websites that get a continuous flow of traffic organically, naturally, without any advertising. We’ve realized that we’ve had the most success with websites that we wrote all of the content for ahead of time with well-thought out continuous tags, and set up to automatically publish each article at a set rate within a set time frame—particularly Tenka Tea and Understanding Pollution.
Those are fundamental aspects of SEO (Search-Engine Optimization) that are the key to getting web traffic (Dover, 2011), which is the key to getting sales for whatever it is that you’re selling—be it your book, or anything, really. Our focus is on guerilla marketing, because as you’ve probably read in our story: we’ve been building this company from less than nothing. We don’t/didn’t start off with $50,000 dollars of marketing capital for things like pay-per-click (PPC) ads and such; we started off with $0 and a lot of determination, so we had to focus on how to build a functioning website that generates income with virtually nothing to work with as an investment other than our minds and willingness to work.
We figured SEO was the key to our dreams, but after…
- researching countless contradictory opinions by varying marketing moguls,
- thoroughly reading and annotating several books on the issue,
- getting a formal college education in Internet marketing,
- seeking the consult of university professors,
- beating our heads against the wall at the monotony of dropping links in comments,
- and scouring search-engine results to send out link-request e-mails that are never returned
…a friend of mine named Craig and we at StrataGem Internet Marketing have come to the conclusion that SEO (search-engine optimization) is a bunch of hoodoo that no one completely understands the full breadth of (no matter what they claim) except for the algorithm designers at Google itself, who rightfully keep the absolute truth of such processes secret for understandable and utilitarian reasons.
Google is aiming to curate content based on relevancy, truth, and human connection; therefore, we submit that the pursuit of mastery in SEO is akin to a Buddhist’s pursuit for enlightenment—because to be a master of SEO is apparently to be a master of relevancy, truth, and human connection in one’s own content. For any content creator to honestly say to themselves that they’re going to set out on the journey to master SEO is really tantamount to saying that they’re to set out on the journey to merely master themselves in their own content.
Sure, there are techniques for bettering one’s SEO, like meta-tags or the robots.txt file for example (Jones, 2008) or link-prospecting e-mail campaigns (Ward, 2013), but ultimately, the vast majority of “techniques” are really just a matter of common sense in the grand scheme of things: write well and frequently for your target audience, and be mindful of what they type into search engines as you write. Post your content in relevant social media groups, and if your content is good enough and truly beneficial to your target audience, they will share it and link to it on their own. The links they build for your content will boost your rankings—and that’s about it.
The true problem is not with Google or other search-engines; the true problem is with our individual desires for instant gratification. We don’t want to be told to take the time it takes to develop an impressive portfolio of unique content, and to demonstrate the patience it takes to slowly watch our numbers of subscribers multiply over time, or to be told to face the fact that our content may not be high-enough quality or thought-provoking, and to go back to the drawing board.
What we want is to simply write one article, hit “publish”, and then watch as thousands of engaging readers flock to our site. We want to go to bed, wake up in the morning, and log on to see that all of a sudden, we went viral and we have 80,000 followers at our beck and call, ready to buy whatever it is that we want to sell them, and live the independent Internet marketer’s dream.
It is theoretically possible to get results similar to that with a pay-per-click advertising campaign—to publish one article and then promote that single article to thousands and thousands of people as a funnel that continuously brings in subscribers in record time…
…but that costs money, and lots of it. If you’re like us, you don’t have that kind of money to blow on something that you’re not even sure may pay off, because if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could waste thousands of dollars…in seconds.
We tend to latch on to the few inspirational stories of overnight viral successes that we hear about every so often, because it gives us hope that it’ll happen to us—but we should remember that for every single story of overnight one-hit-wonder viral success that we hear, there are literally millions of others who have failed; astronomical chances are stacked against you in that regard; you’d honestly have a better chance at trying your hand at the insanity of the mega-lotto than to wake up every morning expecting your content to go from 0 to 30,000 shares without any discipline or tribulation required on your part first. Yes, you can reach the point where you can hit “publish” and your content goes viral on its own, but that’ll be after you’ve already put the work in to build the audience that would willingly share it, to begin with. There are no actual short-cuts.
Unless you’ve got serious cash to burn for commercial advertising, true SEO with social media marketing is a long grueling uphill battle (that gets effortless after a certain point, but not when you first start), but we don’t want to hear that. And because we don’t want to hear it, this makes us easily seducible by marketers with respectably large followings claiming to know the path of the quick-fix, as if they know all the answers—when in actuality, they’re just preying upon that desire for instant gratification that they know you have, asking you to exchange your email for an 80 page e-book of fluff filled mostly with information that you likely already knew or would have eventually figured out on your own with enough persistence. But because that marketer is smart enough to play your emotions in that way, the quick-fix answer being in high demand, it’s easy for them to develop sizable followings in a short time which makes them seem legit—but they really aren’t. Watch out for those.
Meanwhile, those in the few cases that truly do hit the Internet jackpot don’t know exactly how they did it, and couldn’t reproduce the same exact result at will, no matter how hard they’d try. Of course, there are aspects of content creation that, if focused on and mastered, improve one’s chances of going positively viral, but those are only chances—it’s not an exact science.
Nor do the powers that be behind the management of the search-engines want it to be an exact science, because the moment the code is cracked and SEO becomes clearly methodological, is the moment the processes become abused and spammed, with irrelevant and inaccurate query results caused by abusers of the system.
Never believe anyone who tells you that they’re complete professional masters of SEO, unless their product is to help you become the best, most helpful, informative, and credible version of yourself over time with something legitimately beneficial to give to mankind, something legitimately beneficial to say, which is what helps you market your book with a blog.
That’s the elusive and mystical secret of SEO. Don’t over-think it the way that we did for two straight years of trial and error. If you focus on SEO, you’ll lose it; if you focus on great content, frequently generated—the benefits of SEO will come without you even having to try.
It’s essentially comparable to the laws of attraction/seduction.
Marketing Is Seduction
The Internet is about links, and links are about relationships, correct? At least, so says Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who is the inventor of the Internet as we know it. Therefore, if what you want is a relationship with an audience, then all you have to do is approach the situation the same way you would as if you were to build a connection with a real person…because they are real people.
If you focus on getting the mate of your dreams without working on yourself first, they’ll either elude you, or you won’t be able to keep them when you find them; if you focus on becoming the mate of their dreams, by improving yourself and your situation, you won’t have any problem keeping them when you do.
This does not mean to espouse the “if you build it, they will come” approach. When marketing your book, you still have to put your website out there, but how hard of an effort you’ll have to put forth doing that will depend greatly upon the quality of your content, in the same way that if you become the highest quality relationship partner, you still won’t meet anyone if you never leave your house, either physically in person or digitally through the Internet.
No, you have to make yourself (in this case, your book) available, at least, putting it where your target audience can at least find it. How you do that is the same exact way you’d go about meeting people in real life: join social media groups (on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) relative to your content, e-mail groups, etc.
Go where ever your target audience is, and simply make yourself/your work available. If you’ve cultivated yourself/your work into someone/something truly unique, attractive, and interesting, the rest will take care of itself.
The romance will happen naturally, and the relationship will build on its own—a concept understood from David DeAngelo’s Inner Game series.
See what I did there? I just gave David DeAngelo a backlink without him having to ask me. David doesn’t even know that I exist, but I gave him a backlink because his content is great, speaks for itself, and is relevant to what I’m saying. See how that works? Try repeating that process: be so good that you cannot be ignored by your audience (Newport, 2012).
Instead of going for pickup lines that never work (the quick-fix) to get the relationship of your dreams, try truly cultivating yourself into a legitimately admirable person with inner game (or in this case, try building a website with content that’s truly beneficial and speaks for itself), and let the rest handle itself over time with patience and diligence.
When marketing your book, all you have to do to make your content available is go halfway to your audience on social media where they hang out, and if no one takes interest (aka you’re unattractive), or if people bounce off your page (aka they found you physically attractive but didn’t like your inner personality), then all that means is that you should relax and focus on self-improvement (going back to the drawing board with the goal of inner development) until you radiate and maintain your audience without even trying.
How have brands you like “seduced” you?
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- Dover, D., & Dafforn, E. (2011). Search engine optimization (SEO) secrets do what you never though possible with SEO. Indianapolis, Ind.: Wiley Pub.
- Jones, K. (2008). Search engine optimization your visual blueprint to effective Internet marketing. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley.
- Ward, E., & French, G. (2013). Ultimate Guide to Link Building How to Build Backlinks, Authority and Credibility for Your Website, and Increase Click Traffic and Search Ranking. Irvine: Entrepreneur Press.
- Newport, C. (2012). So good they can’t ignore you: Why skills trump passion in the quest for work you love. New York: Business Plus.