A couple weeks ago, we exposed the “We’re Not Digital” myth to which some businesses have fallen prey. More recently, we unpacked the misconception that IT departments and marketing teams have overlapping roles. This week we’re discussing our third in a series of five outdated objections to SEO and digital marketing. This one is a little more common, even among brands that tend to get it right in many other aspects of their marketing.
“Our website is our digital marketing.”
If you know only one quote from the 1989 film, Field of Dreams, it’s probably “If you build it, he will come.” This prophetic statement, whispered mysteriously to the protagonist, Ray, leads him to build a baseball diamond on his Iowa farm—which, as will happen, manifests the 1919 Chicago White Sox from out of a nearby corn field.
As silly or fantastic as that might sound, there is a phenomenon in digital marketing that seems to parallel this fairy tale. Many brands today still operate on an “If we build it, they will come” mentality when it comes to their website.
Unfortunately, launching a gorgeous website that is mobile-friendly and a dream to engage with isn’t enough to carry your brand online. People have to know about it first, which requires being found easily in search engines and putting your best foot forward on those digital properties. Search giants like Google, Facebook, and YouTube all parse and serve their search results differently, and there are a variety of ways to influence how your business is presented on those sites.
Not even megabrands like Nike and Tesla get a pass here. Sure, users know there is a modern, polished website that’ll be easy to find—and they’re right. But do a simple Google search for either of these examples, and closer inspection reveals there is significant digital marketing work happening behind the scenes to shape the search results. Elements like ads, product listings, rich snippets, meta data, social results, image search, local pack, backlinks and more all contribute to how a brand is presented online before users even click through to the destination website.
These external, or offsite, factors are important to get right. Not only do they send visitor traffic to your site, but they represent your brand across the Internet in ways your website can’t. This is why the build-and-wait policy is nearsighted and dangerous. Your website should be a hub of digital activity, but it can’t be the beginning and end of your digital marketing strategy.