I’ve invited Christie Osborne of Mountainside Media to share her wisdom with us today on all things algorithms. I also invited Christie to speak at Be Sage Conference if you want to learn even more on Google Analytics this January in Miami.
There is a lot of anxiety among wedding pros around algorithms and how they can change on a dime, and for good reason. Here you’ve spent all this time and money building your audience and drawing traffic to your pages or your site based on what you’d been told was Facebook’s or Google’s latest criteria – and then BOOM – they change the game and suddenly your traffic dries up and your engagement is a ghostland. It feels incredibly unfair, to the say the least. At worst it happens at a bad time and your business is teetering on the edge.
Wanting to avoid that is one reason people try so hard to beat the algorithms in the first place. But here’s the issue with approaching algorithms that way: you might be able to game an algorithm some of the time, but eventually the algorithms will adjust the newest scheme and will always figure out a way to put an end to your shenanigans, no matter how good your intentions.
But there’s an even more important reason to not place your bets on tricking an algorithm – if you can’t create good, compelling content that drives traffic on its own, gaming the system runs the risk of only attracting unqualified leads and not generating true interest and sales.
WHY YOU SHOULD EMBRACE THE ALGORITHM
Algorithms aren’t only an annoying fact of life, though – believe it or not they are there to serve you as well! Here’s how:
● They help protect your potential customers from spammy marketers that would drown out your content.
● The quality of a user’s experience online goes up when they are directed to good, solid sources for whatever they’re seeking.
● They help keep people on the most useful platforms by keeping those platforms useful and easy.
HOW ALGORITHMS REALLY WORK
It wasn’t that long ago when running a search or digging around online was much more of a crapshoot, and the first sites or information that came up were almost always pure advertisements or spam. While algorithm changes can be scary for small businesses, they have also made your chances of reaching your real customers much higher. They do this by trying to serve up content and search results that are relevant and interesting to audiences. The bad news is, if you produce crappy content, it may not get seen. The great news is if you produce outstanding content that is relevant, valuable and interesting to your audience, the algorithm will actually start rewarding your by delivering your content more frequently or boosting it to the top of search results.
HOW TO MAKE YOURSELF ALGORITHM PROOF
So, how do you “beat” algorithm changes so they don’t throw you and your business for a loop?
Truth is you can’t actually “beat” an algorithm, not really. There’s a lot of math and machine learning behind algorithms, so they are difficult (if not impossible) for individuals to beat. You may be able to game the system for a while, but once the algorithm catches wind of the newest game and changes the rules, all of your hard work can be gone in an instant. But there are ways to make yourself nearly algorithm proof.
- Don’t try to game the system; sooner or later it will always be detected by the behind-the-scenes spam squad and it will be shut down.
- Create a tribe and find your people by focusing on your clients first; their needs, hopes, joys, concerns, and intentions when they are searching for or engaging with you or looking for a product or service you provide.
- Understand your place in the ecosystem, especially on social media. Your main competition isn’t fellow vendors – it’s internet kittens and grandmothers. You should create great content and showcase your product or service in the best way you can. Don’t ever phone it in on social media or you‘re just wasting your time and your clients.
- And finally, create a way to move people off of any platform you don’t control, like social media, and onto one you do control, like your website. For example, in addition to capturing inquiries, your website can capture email addresses with a download or other incentive. Once they are on your list you can warm them up and invite them to meet with you for a client consult. Or, you can install a Facebook Pixel, drive traffic to your website then retarget customers with paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram. Basically, it’s better to build a small audience of qualified leads and truly interested fans instead of trying to build a large audience on the shifting sands of the current algorithm-beating fad.
Producing excellent content and reaching your genuine audience online does take time and effort – more than plugging in the newest the latest way to game the system. But if you remember to empathize with the very real humans of the internet, see your interactions with them as a dialog and an authentic exchange, then your platforms, your products, and your services will get all the benefits of the current algorithm while offering protection against the changes you know are on the way.
Christie Osborne is the owner of Mountainside Media, a company that helps event industry professionals brands develop scalable marketing strategies that brings in more inquiries and leads. Christie is a national educator who recently presented at NACE Experience in both 2017 and 2018.