Why Off-Page SEO is the best way to be found on the internet.
“Hello. I’m Warren. It’s been two days since I wrote a social media post, did keyword research, pruned my sitemap, or wrote anything that was intended to be uploaded onto Kindle Direct Publishing and distributed as content marketing.”
Everyone in the room claps. I smile weakly and take my seat.
This could well be a recent scene in my life, and I’m not intending to poke fun. There are so many very worthy, support groups that help millions of people around the world at any given time with their problems. I am the last person to point a finger other than in irony. My own failings are manifold and SEO is only the latest of my many distractions.
I came to Digital Marketing in 1998, after twenty years in food. As a Digital Marketer, your life is defined by “micro-conversions” and core web vitals, hashtags, and calls to action. As a chef, your life is all about “height on the plate”, port wine reductions, pear ice wines, and water ganaches.
No matter where you are or what you do, there are always going to be concepts and terms that define you.
Accepting Our Problems is the First Step in Solving Our Problems
As I enjoy a large gin and tonic, ironically only a few hours after seeing Tanqueray had risen in price some 50% in my local grocery store, I am reminded of the call I had with Bridget Willard this afternoon. We met on Twitter, three years ago. Also, and I’m not sure if this is irony or coincidence though probably the latter, I am teaching Social Media this week but I am not sure if people are really getting the problem we’re facing.
There is a great irony in our spending countless hours online connected with or connected to the digital verbiage of strangers while we spend less and less time communicating with actual people.
How much time do we spend online? Fifty-one hours a week, or about seven hours a day is the latest estimate here in Germany. Sixty percent of that screen time is not work-related. Four hours a day staring into a screen is probably, by most people’s standards, a problem.
I had on deck for this week a post about customer acquisition, but honestly, this topic seemed more amusing, and I need amusement. After having many June classes canceled, and my car insurance, and having some twit almost plough into my car this morning, and my knee hurts, and Tanqueray gin rose in price 50% while my hourly rate remained tepidly flat, I thought I should dive into the cool, deep waters of comedy.
Off-Page SEO, Content Marketing, and Other Expensive Hobbies
My third wife, the wife I am currently living with, rose to the bait of my fourth, or fifth, or possibly sixth book the other month by pronouncing them “an expensive hobby”. From the perspective of our pre-digital, offline, and practical world, she is probably correct.
Today we call the creation and dissemination of books, videos, blog posts, and the like, Content Marketing. Being visible. Searchable. A great number of other terms are too concocted to repeat. Let’s just call it what I currently teach: Off-Page SEO (everything that happens outside of your website, that enables search engines to find you). For want of better measurement, Off-Page SEO is the best way to be found on the internet.
“Content Marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” – Content Marketing Institute
Why Only Having a Website is Not Enough to Get You Found on the Internet Anymore
Gone are the days of having a website and being found. In 1996 there were about 100,000 websites on the world wide web. My first website went online in 1998. You can see the homepage still, right here. Ten years later there were about 100 million websites. Today there are over two billion websites. In addition to that, there is a LOT of data on the web. Not even Google has it all indexed.
No one knows exactly how much data is on the web, but it has been estimated that in 2010 there were about 2 zettabytes of data on the web, and, by some calculations, there is today close to 200 zettabytes of data on the web. A zettabyte is equal to one trillion gigabytes. 1 gigabyte is about 7 minutes of an HD TV film.
1 trillion gigabytes = 7 trillion minutes of an HD TV film. Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker is 142 minutes long.
1 trillion gigabytes = 49,295,774,648 copies of Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker. That’s almost 50 billion copies of the movie … times two hundred.
What Does Star Wars Have to Do With My Being Found?
Interestingly enough, in 1999, I was working for a digital agency in Munich making websites, flash movie intros, and animated banners. During the summer holiday, I visited my good friend Todd Morrison in London Ontario, and we stood in line with thousands of others, to buy tickets for Star Wars The Phantom Menace.
A local newspaper reporter was walking around asking who had come the furthest to stand in line. I said Munich. There are a lot of Munichs and Berlins and Bremens in the southeast of Canada so he wasn’t much interested – so I qualified it with Munich, Germany! That got my photo in the local paper. Back then, that’s how you got yourself found. It was a long process, but Star Wars got me in the local newspaper.
So back to SEO. Let’s say my website consists of 300 pages, (it In fact consists of 243 pages), and people are looking for me. I don’t know why they would be, but for sake of argument let’s say they are. Then they are probably looking for me on Google which currently has about 95% of the search market. There are other search engines, but most of us dependably use Google. We’re a Google-First generation.
So if people look for me they have about 300 (or 243) chances to find me in that pile of two billion websites and 50 billion copies of Star Wars … times two hundred. Good luck.
However, if you add all those social media placements, videos, books, pdfs, and entries on other websites, then, then we have something! Those 300 (243) chances increase to about 35,000 chances! See? That’s Content Marketing, and that’s Off-Page SEO baby. I usually say “baby” when I explain this in class.
If you’re not in the digital marketing business this may not raise your eyebrows, but I am. So is Bridget. Fran Lebowitz is not in the business either, but she is a brilliant social commentator (Pretend it’s a City), and like me, comes from a simpler and more honest age. In the 1970s and 1980s, you could call a company papering itself with the latest colours of the month “opportunistic”, rather than the current misnomer of being a “brand activist”
Not Everybody Needs to be Found on the Internet
Bridget and I were talking about, something, and I mentioned our propensity to term what we do as Content Marketing sounded a bit pompous. I mean, who are we? In the 1970s and 1980s, no one had a social media account. No one was trying to be found. There were no websites, or SEO, or anything really. There were newspapers and magazines and radio and television and the only way you could be found is if you were famous. Or potentially famous, with famous parents or siblings you could be photographed with when they trashed the 21Club or vacationed in the same town as Mick Jagger. Or you were Fran Lebowitz.
Today we are all brands, and for most of us that seems to be our claim to fame. We hype ourselves. That’s our gig.
Fran Lebowitz, in the reader that bears her name, writes on page 12, and it is so true, that very few of us possess any artistic ability. So we should not even bother trying to create art. She says we should ignore any burning desire we have to write, draw, or paint.
“Your life story would not make a great book. Do not even try.” The Fran Lebowitz Reader, 1994
Probably in the 1970s and 1980s and into the 1990s even, most people would have agreed with her. She has a point! If everyone has a Wikipedia entry, then how important can Wikipedia actually be? If everyone is a superstar, then honestly, no one is.
If No-one Searches For You, Do You Even Exist?
Today, most people are visible and have some presence on the internet. The internet pulsates and throbs with the artistic progeny of literally billions of people. From TikTok to Blogs, Facebook to Pinterest, Amazon to eBay, the world wide web is bloated with our well-intended artistic creations and our constant need to be found and heard.
It’s my job to help people be found, teach people how to help others be found, and go to various lengths to be found myself. I can’t help myself.
Please, give generously, and if you are new to SEO, consider purchasing my SEO book.
Tags – click for more posts on these topics
Image thanks to https://imgflip.com/memegenerator/Distracted-Boyfriend