SHOPPING online in late July, Clarabelle Rodriguez typed the name of her favorite eyeglass brand into Google’s search bar.
In moments, she found the perfect frames — made by a French company called Lafont — on a Web site that looked snazzy and stood at the top of the search results. Not the tippy-top, where the paid ads are found, but under those, on Google’s version of the gold-medal podium, where the most relevant and popular site is displayed.
Ms. Rodriguez placed an order for both the Lafonts and a set of doctor-prescribed Ciba Vision contact lenses on that site, DecorMyEyes.com. The total cost was $361.97.
It was the start of what Ms. Rodriguez would later describe as one of the most maddening and miserable experiences of her life.
What transpires is a nightmare scenario for any consumer, and frankly, for any business as well. It becomes even worse when you understand why this is happening. From the company itself.
“Hello, My name is Stanley with DecorMyEyes.com,” the post began. “I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement.”
It’s all part of a sales strategy, he said. Online chatter about DecorMyEyes, even furious online chatter, pushed the site higher in Google search results, which led to greater sales. He closed with a sardonic expression of gratitude: “I never had the amount of traffic I have now since my 1st complaint. I am in heaven.”
I understand that this is an extreme example, but any publicity is good publicity right?
Look, I don’t believe that this is the kind of thing that the vast majority of businesses would want to associate themselves with, but it brings up an interesting point.
What are you more interested in as a business, your SEO or your reputation?
You may laugh at that question, but I assure you, too many of you are putting your Google rankings ahead of your businesses good name. In fact, the only difference between your business and the one above is scale.
Want Proof? Here are three warning signs that you may be caring more about your SEO rather than your reputation.
- Your focus on blog posts is toward key words rather than on highlighting your expertise.
- You post based on what’s popular rather than on where you see solutions to problems.
- You post about topics that are irrelevant to your business’ strengths.
If you’re doing any of these, you probably want to rethink your social media strategy. Let me help.
Simply put, most businesses are created because they are able to fill a need. Your primary goal with social media, really with all public relations, should be to highlight why people should trust you, and ultimately, do business with you. Everything else is superfluous.
It never ceases to amaze me how many businesses don’t seem to get that.
Here’s a simple solution.
Rather than focusing on popular issues, pick topics with an eye towards highlighting how your business can offer solutions to problems. If you happen to be able to address a topic that others are talking about, great. But it shouldn’t be a focus. Once you have a topic, lay out clearly and concisely what the issue is and how your business is ideally suited to fixing that problem. Make the case that people should turn to you when they have similar issues. Only after you have written your post should you worry about how to increase your ranking on Google.
So remember this. Social media is not a popularity contest. If it were, then all of us would be acting just like the business above, stooping to any level to rise in the ranks of Google. This is not to say that you should just ignore SEO words or popular topics, you shouldn’t. Just understand that your focus should primarily be on what your business can do for others.
Focus on your reputation. Your future customers will thank you.
*(If you’re interested in my services you can go here for more information.)