Shiny tools don’t make a purpose

Recently, I bought a Fitbit. It’s a fantastic tool. Now, I can rave more about the features and go on and on. However, a friend and a colleague asked me an interesting question.

Has it changed you?
No, it did not.

Before I go on, I have to tell you that I am on the heavier side of the weighing scale. Those of you who know me personally would be surprised at the sudden interest in all things health. Yeah, I roll like that.

It’s not about the Fitbit

Like any other measurement tool, the Fitbit is doing a marvelous job at letting me know certain metrics that I need to care about.

They have even gamified the steps by putting in cute little badges and built in peer support (and also peer pressure) to keep me motivated. All this is good as it should be.

At the core of it, it’s a measurement tool. Just like any of the billion other tools we use in Analytics.

Targets and Measurements

On very similar lines, we as marketers or as businessmen often deploy shiny new tools because we think they will help us do more.

Unfortunately, like me in this case, how many of us forget on defining the purpose?

I implicitly assumed that the Fitbit would automatically by some magic give me the purpose of losing weight and leading a more healthy life. Without this purpose, here’s what would happen —

I will wear it to work, and dutifully report the steps taken and life would go on as usual. Some of the badges would come in as time goes by, and it would not really matter to me if I took 2000 steps a day (which is a walk in the park) or 10000 steps a day (I haven’t achieved this yet).

How would I change, if let’s say I choose to give myself a target of say, 10000 steps a day.

Without Purpose, there’s no Change

I would for one have to make time to walk those 10000 steps. I could try walking in the office or doing a much more rigorous transit than an Uber. However, I would have to commit to making the time for those steps.

Thus, this choice of making a change in my routine should be addressed. At the heart of it, the shiny new tool is not at the center. Yes, you have bought Google Analytics Premium and all of that is great … but that’s not really at the center.

At the center, is the purpose. Has this been defined? Has this been clarified and articulated so that the team knows about this?

A tool doesn’t give us Purpose

It does give us a sense of progress towards our purpose. A Measure of Success, if you will. The shiny new tool that we just acquired is useful, but only as long as we keep the purpose at the center.

As people who know how to use a tool, if we do not understand the purpose, the tool will end up regurgitating meaningless data.

TL;DR — When setting up measures, don’t keep the tool at the center. Keep the purpose at the center. The rest should follow.

Starters guide to SEO

One part of my role at Pristine is building up the site traffic, be it via Paid Advertising, Referral traffic or via Search Engines.

Anyone who has indulged in Paid Advertising would know how expensive it can turn out to be if you do not know what you are doing. It can be very effective in the short term, however for long term and more sustainable results, relying on non-paid search results is far better. Hence SEO or Search Engine Optimization.

The problem with SEO is that almost everyone who has a website think that they should do SEO, and SEO is playing around with meta tags. Seems simplistic no? In the past month or so, the amount of people whom I have talked to regarding to SEO has shown how less people know about the workings. Add to it the complexity of the ever-changing algorithm of search engines such as Google, Bing, etc.

The idea behind SEO is to target specific keywords for specific pages on your site, so that when your target audience searches for those keywords, your site shows up in the search results.

Here are some tips which I would have appreciated when I started off. Please do keep in mind, that I am no self-professed expert in SEO, just that like all of us around here, even I am learning, and this post is one such humble attempt to share whatever that I have learned, and what I know works to get results. Having said that, I know it would help all of us if you could point out any errors that i have made, or make suggestions and provide additional tips!

  • Read up on your meta tags, some of them are useful. Make a note of the description and author tags, you would be working with description the most.
  • Do not target more than 2-3 keywords per page, since you have to use that keyword in all the different important sections of the page viz., description tag, title tag, h1 tag, main content, etc. you cannot really target 1-2 keywords without damaging the copy of your page.
  • If you are working with a tight budget, then use a free tool such as Traffic Travis, the demo version is free. If you have a decent sized budget, then I would highly recommend Pro SEO MOz, it not only has a very comprehensive SEO tool, but also it has an extensive knowledge base on SEO
  • Search Engine’s maintain the authority of websites, this is generally a factor of how well you write, and how many sites are linking to your content. Google especially is one search engine which rewards regular content creation, in fact the current search algo (don’t know why its called the panda update) also favors freshness of content. So the same page would rank higher if it were regularly updated.
  • Always look at the different search terms via which people are coming to your site. Those are essentially content creation triggers!
  • Many people swear by backlinking, citing different open directories to publish your site links. However, I am skeptical about this approach. The one thing I use this approach for is to check where are my competitors linking, and get my presence their as well. I think if you can create good quality content, then it will automatically fetch the backlinks that you require.
  • Search engines are also influenced by social behavior, so typically the search results shown in Google would be influenced with what your friends are sharing on your social networks. E.g- If I share this post on say Twitter and if you are following me on Twitter, then you would definitely see this as a search result!
  • SEO is a long drawn game, and it requires patience, practice and discipline. Do not expect magic to happen, it’s a slow and gradual process and does not happen over night. To hope for such miracles, either you need to be Larry Page or Steve Ballmer.