Otherwise Known as “What’s in a Name”?
After long hours of contemplation and meditation, discussion, disputation, and argumentation, and finally after consulting a guru in a lonely cave in India, we decided on a new name for our business. We are now “Horizon Web Marketing.” Whenever a business takes the risk of re-labeling themselves, a hundred different conflicting priorities emerge. As well as alternate choices.
As a company, we are heavily focused on SEO, or Search Engine Optimization (if you’d like a brief introduction to SEO, check out this video and transcript). So the obvious question might be, why not “Horizon SEO”?
The Limitations of the Term “SEO”
This is what opens up the philosophical discussion of where Internet is taking today’s business marketplace. Obviously search engines (read “Google”) have had a key role in driving Internet traffic and dollars, so it’s no wonder that the process of optimizing a site for better visibility in search engines has become a popular, controversial, and hotly contested profession. However increasingly it’s obvious that the term SEO, while still very valid, is a bit too limiting to describe what we need to do for our clients.
Instead of making this blog post overly long, I’d like to take a look at just one example that we were discussing around the digital water cooler today (in other words in a Skype conference call): the complementary areas of usability design and search engine optimization.
Relevancy, Authority, and now Engagement
Increasingly Google, and no doubt Bing as well, is not just looking at things like authority and relevancy in determining how much or little they want to push your site up in the search engine results pages (SERPS). In addition, Google is looking at the quality of the content on the site. And in their quest to better identify the “quality” websites in a set of search results and favor them, Google will look at metrics that express “engagement,” which is basically how engaged a typical site visitor is with your website.
This brings us to usability. Your site might be highly relevant to a search term, but filled with pages and pages of densely packed and confusingly organized text. If this is the case the fact that your page is relevant to the visitors search will mean little, because they might click away, screaming, when they see your encyclopedic content.
Or if a visitor comes to your site and can’t see the point, can’t take action, can’t wait for the page to load, or experiences any other engagement killers, you’ve lost them. This will then, in theory, disfavor your site in the eyes of Google.
Web Marketing: the Correct Paradigm
Therefore, (and I am getting to the point now, really) when we work with a client we can’t just focus on traditional SEO techniques, we also have to work with our clients on non-SEO factors such as usability. It seems like the best way to describe the broad spectrum of what we do for a client as “Web Marketing.” Thus was decided our naming question. Well, that along with a coin toss by the Indian guru.
Ross Barefoot got his start in small business managing an importing company in the bicycle industry. While there, he tried his hand at programming to find more effective ways to track, market and sell his company’s range of bicycle parts. He loved the web marketing side of things so much he became a professional web developer in 2001, starting a website design business in Western Colorado. He took his first SEO certification course from the Search Engine Academy in 2002, followed it up with another in 2004, and decided to jump full time into SEO training and consulting in 2011, becoming a Master Certified Instructor with the Search Engine Academy, where he continues to serve on the Board of Directors. Today, Ross is CTO, trainer and chief SEO strategist at Horizon Web Marketing (www.horizonwebmarketing.com), a full-service digital marketing agency based in Las Vegas.