The Missing Element in Search Engine Marketing…Creativity

    December 5, 2005

In the “technical” world of search engine marketing, we often get so tied up in optimizing our pages, getting our databases crawled, determining what’s happening with Google’s latest update, and building our link popularity that we think in much too linear a fashion.

It’s way past time to begin looking at your Web business as if you’re standing in the clouds looking down. For the time being, don’t think about search engine optimization, Web design, or technical issues. Yes, those things are crucial, and we’re counting on you to cover those areas. But for now, let’s look at what I believe to be a crucial missing element in search engine marketing . . . creativity.

You might be thinking . . . you’re not a writer, a dancer, an artist, or a painter. You’re just not creative!

Perish the thought!

There are different levels of creativity, and everyone can be taught to think more creatively. To be honest, the very fact that you have an online business shows your creativity. You’re selling goods and services online. You’re doing something that was practically unheard of 10 years ago. Congratulations on your forward thinking!

Need more proof of your creativity?

* Do you value a well-designed Web site? * Do you enjoy music? * Do you take pleasure in art – any kind of art? * Do you appreciate the glory of a sunset? * Do you feel a sense of awe at seeing horses galloping across a pasture? * When you see a child smile, or a brand new baby, are you inspired by the unbelievable wonders of this world?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, creativity lives inside you. It’s up to you (with a little help from a friend) to begin using your creativity in your online business and on your Web site.

“Can’t” Can’t do Anything

When I was younger and told my mother I couldn’t do something (“I can’t do this math homework”), her wise response was always, “‘Can’t’ can’t do anything.” In other words, “If you give up in the beginning, you’ve killed any opportunity of achieving success.”

The biggest killers of creativity are words like, “can’t,” “no, because,” “it costs too much,” “it won’t work,” “there’s no one to do it,” and “it’s impossible.”

Walt Disney had different teams who worked on the same projects. When his idea creators got together, no one was allowed to voice thoughts like:

* “It can’t be done.” * “It costs too much money.” * “That idea is horrible!” * (Have you ever been really excited about an idea, and this was how you were greeted when you shared your idea? Kind of cuts off the flow of those creative juices, doesn’t it?)

Idea creation is a brainstorming session, pure and simple. Someone has an idea, and the team of creators takes the idea and run with it. They don’t worry about the “mechanics” of how to implement the idea. They’re in the creative mode.

They’re simply . . . creating.

Once the ideas are expanded upon and ready to be moved to the next level, that team begins to work on the implementation of the idea.

Walt Disney’s belief was “Yes, if . . .” is the language of a creator, whereas the language of a defeatist is “No, because.”

Is Every Idea a Perfect One?

Of course not. That’s where the power of brainstorming comes in. One person has an idea, which spawns the additional thoughts of another person, which creates more input from another person, and so forth. Maybe the original idea needs a little more work to make it doable. Maybe the best time for the idea is next year, rather than next month. To make the idea work, maybe an additional staff member will need to be hired. Maybe several obstacles will need to be tackled before the idea is possible.

One thing is certain:

You’ll never succeed if you give up too soon.

There are no brick walls in search engine marketing. If you run up against a brick wall, it’s time to think creatively.

Does Every Idea Work?

Nope. Some ideas fail. But if you don’t try, you’ll never know what will work and what will have the potential to make you a bundle of money. If an idea fails, step back and review. Can you make some changes to the project to make it work better? Can you add a twist to turn things around? Is your thinking stagnant – do you need a different perspective? Is it time for a brainstorming session?

Don’t take what might look like a failure and “assume” that’s what it is at face value.

Never assume!

Time to Look at Some Examples

Example #1: Travel Web Site

(Note: These examples can apply to almost any industry. Use your imagination and make them work! Also, there are many things we don’t know about the sites, since we can’t visually see them.)

You sell vacation packages going to Walt Disney World. Competition is fierce in your industry. You’ve done everything you can from an SEO standpoint to optimize your database-driven site. Every page is found in the engines, and every page has a unique title, description, heading, and content. Your rankings are fairly good but could use improvement. However, your conversions could be better, and so could your link popularity.

Another problem is how to differentiate yourself from your competition. In other words, you need a USP (Unique Selling Proposition).

At the end of this article, I’ll give you some possible solutions, but the purpose of this article is to get YOU to think creatively.

Ask Yourself These Questions:

Is there a way that you could get your happy customers to link to your Web site in order to build your link popularity? Are you giving them a reason to link to your Web site?

Is your site “sticky,” meaning are you giving new and past customers a reason to come back to your site over and over again? Do you have a lot of repeat customers?

What exactly makes a site sticky? Why do you go back to sites again and again?

What could you do on your site that would make your customers tell others about your site?

Let’s say that I’m your customer. Why would I want to come back to your site again and again? Why would I want to tell others about your site?

Re-read the description about the site. Remember what the strengths and weaknesses are.

Why would I want to buy from YOU instead of your competitor? That is your USP – your Unique Selling Proposition. The USP differentiates you from your competition. Every business needs a USP. What is yours?

(Continued in Part 2. This is a 4-part article.)

Robin Nobles conducts live SEO workshops
( in locations across North
America. She also teaches online SEO training
( Localized SEO training is now
being offered through the Search Engine Academy.
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