What is online marketing? It Is Communication

The first thing I want to mention for those who are overwhelmed by online marketing is that it is basically communication. Communicating a message is the same thing businesses have always done. Online marketing is just another way to get the message out.

Google wants to be your master and own the internet
Google wants to own the internet

I would say it’s much more challenging to get your message seen now than it was in the late 90s and early 2000s. With each day online distribution is owned more and more by big businesses such as Google and FaceBook. New media is becoming a lot like old media where you need to pay if you want to have accesses to distribution. It used to be that businesses were a lot more equal and people a lot more likely to engage.

We are lucky that there are still emerging online platforms that don’t charge a fee. Some platforms worth looking at are Google Plus, YouTube, LinketdtIn, Twitter, and Pinterest, I also think Tumblr and Instagram have potential for some businesses. Even the short format videos of Vine can sometimes be used for effective communication. While these platforms are free to use, online marketing has never been completely free. It has always required content creation and content creation takes time, skill, and resources. Time, skill, and resources cost money.

It used to be all a local business needed to do was create useful content and they could do fairly well online. I noticed that changing when Google decided to get into local search. There are other factors as well, such as now there are more local businesses competing for online attention. But the main reason content alone doesn’t work as well as it once did is because of the algorithms used by gatekeepers that dish out online information.

Search engine optimization = SEO, is the art of optimizing online content to get high ranking in search engines. Online content is usually optimized for key words. Keyword optimization is changing with the adoption of new search engine technologies.

One of the current search technologies being developed is semantic search. Google’s Hummingbird update was a major change incorporating a new semantic search algorithm. Semantic search tries to understand the meaning of what a person wants information about. When I was much younger I read California Senator Hayakawa’s book on semantics, and as I remember, understanding semantics is not always easy for our human brains let alone a 2014 computer.

In the near future computers will be coming online that should be able to understand intentions. However, they are not in widespread use. (It’s interesting to note that Google’s lead on one of their main artificial inelegance projects just switched sides and is now working for a Chinese company.) I need to mention with their new algorithms Google seems to now be serving me a lot more irrelevant information. But then I am often looking for more esoteric information than where to buy something. It is common for me to be researching information for one of my cable TV shows and Google has a hard time not giving me commercial search results. I remember when Google was the only place to search for academic and hard to find information. It still is, but now it is geared a lot more to serving ads.

Which brings me back to good content alone won’t always get you top ranking in search.

What Is Quality Content

Most search engines are looking for what They call quality content. Defining quality turns out to be a somewhat complex semantic problem. My definition of quality is often quite different than a search engines definition. I think a more accurate definition of search engine quality is Popular.
Search engines are more likely to serve up popular content over quality content. From what I have seen popular usually triumphs quality. Of course many times quality content is also popular, but not always.

Another problem with Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is that it can be fickle, changing at the whim of search engines. We are also seeing this same kind of change occurring on large social sites. It is best to have a plan that does not rely on one form of information distribution. This is especially true for distribution channels you do not own. We need to learn how to use these Massive Online Distribution channels but we probably should not become wed to them.

I am wishing you the very best,
Andrew Ledford
Community Television
Social marketing
Services and Products