Imagine a place where you can be anyone and anything you want to be; a world where you are whatever you claim you are—with little or no recourse. That place exists. It’s called the world wide web.
Right now, it’s pretty plain to see that the web and reality are two very different places. Over the past 5-10 years, the gap between web reality and the real world has created an enormous opportunity for millions of small businesses.
Let’s say you’re the owner of a new plumbing company in Chicago, IL. You’ve got yourself and a truck and you’re trying to grow.
A decade ago, the only way to generate thousands of service calls per month was to place a large (and incredibly expensive) ad in the print Yellow Pages. Back then, most new or small businesses would do what they could afford to do, place a small ad in the Yellow Pages and get a few calls here and there. Those calls plus referrals plus time equals a nice little business that, with proper management and care, may grow into something bigger.
Today, due to the gap between the web and reality, the game has changed. Even if you just opened your business yesterday, for less than $10,000, you can build and optimize a website that makes it appear as though you are the largest and most successful plumbing company in the Chicagoland area.
Small business owners willing to spend a bit of money and exploit the fact that you can claim to be anyone online—with little recourse—often find themselves benefiting enormously (receiving thousands of service calls per month). And the calls and service requests come at a fraction of what they would have cost a decade ago.
Some of you might be saying, “That sounds great—how do I get started?”
Before you start Googling, “best web marketing firm for plumbers,” (hint: the real answer is Blue Corona) to find a company to make the example above become your reality, you need to understand this: Google is closing the gap between the web and reality.
The Future of SEO & the Web
In the very near future, you’re NOT going to be able to rank on the first page for “best plumbing company in Winnetka, IL” when you’re a one-man shop in Cicero, IL. In order to rank on the first page of Google for a particular keyword, you’re going to have to have a real-world brand that is so strong that if someone searched for that phrase and you didn’t appear, they would scratch their head and think, “Man, Google sucks.”
When this day comes—and it’s going to be here sooner than you realize-–small businesses everywhere are going to be faced with a monumental challenge: How do I build a brand where I’m recognized as THE respected and trusted authority for what I do in the markets I do it?
Very few businesses will figure it out. Those that do will occupy the first page of the organic search results (that is, IF Google continues to offer organic results—one part of me believes that they are going to move to a model that is 100% pay per click ads). Those that don’t figure it out will be destined to live (probably hand-to-mouth) off mostly referrals from friends, family, and previous customers.
My Advice to You
Start thinking about what it means to be THE respected and trusted authority for what you do in the markets you do it. Recognize that most advertising and marketing “opportunities” that promise great things right now—and for a low cost—are often diametrically opposed to the strategies and tactics required to create a company that is THE respected and trusted authority.
If you’re serious about building an awesome business that generates long-term value for you and your family, exercise your emotional intelligence muscle and focus on the long term. Ask yourself, “Is this marketing strategy going to help establish my company as THE respected and trusted authority?”
Think long and hard about the answer … your future SEO success and the future of your business depend on it.