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There Are No Secrets to Social Networking, SEO and Web Development

by Jennifer Beever on May 31, 2009

Some social media, SEO and web development vendors make claims that are simply not true.

I got good comments on my last post, SEO Industry has some Snake Oil, But Also Much Success. In it I wrote that the SEO and web development industries are relatively young and fragmented with audiences that often don’t understand the technologies. As a result, project prices are all over the map and customers can be sold a bill of goods by suppliers who may not have much experience.

It’s happening in the world of social networking too. I recently heard a consultant tell someone at a networking event that he had just learned “the secret” to implementing Facebook for business marketing. Ugh! Here we go again. Companies and individuals are jumping to get on the social networking consulting bandwagon, and some are making claims that are simply not true.

The Internet has democratized the availability of information about online marketing best practices. By identifying and following industry leaders and service providers who work with integrity and by analyzing successful web sites and social networking pages (and sometimes by just Googling a “how to” question then filtering through the results), you can learn best practices for web site development, SEO and social networking.
But even though information is available, there are benefits to hiring experts.

1. Reduction in time to marketing results. Your Social Networking, SEO or web development expert brings you efficiency. If you’re a business owner, do you really have time to roll up your sleeves and figure out all this new technology? There is definitely a learning curve which varies depending on your comport level with technology. An expert can do it for you and do it well; you just have to be able to choose the right one.

2. Tie technology to business objectives and goals. Savvy experts should link tactics to your marketing and business objectives. Each social networking, search engine optimization or web development project should have a strategic action plan that identifies how the project delivers business and marketing objectives and goals to your company, how the project will be measured, and the specific tasks to meet the objectives and goals. In other words, don’t just take the expert’s word for it. The plan should be one of the first deliverables, and you can check your expert’s tactics by researching best practice information.

3. Internet marketing is iterative work. The technology for social networking, SEO and web development changes. SEO algorithms change. Social networking tools change their interface, add features and applications. When Facebook recently changed their interface, it threw many business owners for a loop. Experts can sift through the changes and additions and recommend the right approach faster to avoid interruptions to a company’s online presence and communications.

People who buy marketing services should at least understand the best practices, even if they don’t execute them. Some of the resources I’ve found helpful include:

  • A subscription to and SEO authority, such as Planet Ocean Communications www.searchenginenews.com. Every month POC rewrites the book on SEO, detailing algorithm changes and techniques. I have subscribed since 1998 and have found the company and the information to be highly accurate and beneficial.
  • The article, 10 Myths of SEO Debunked, by freelance writer Michael Estrin. After I commiserated with my colleague, local SEO expert and web developer Mark Koep of Optmized Image, about the lack of knowledge about SEO, he forwarded the link. It features different SEO experts and is very helpful in cutting through the misinformation put out by the snake oil salespeople or the simply misinformed.
  • I attend webinars and seminars, such as Chris Rollyson’s workshop, The Executive’s Guide to LinkedIn. He has since explanded the Executive’s Guide to include Facebook and Twitter.
  • I follow leaders in social networking and media on Twitter (username cmo4hire).

Do you think there are secrets to online marketing or do experts take advantage of buyers lack of knowledge? Please share your thoughts and stories in the comments.

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