Out of the Box Innovations Ltd

Forget ‘build it and they will come.’ Go to where they have built it.

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Building an audience online used to be easier

In the early days of the internet, the fast adopters in each industry sub-sector were the only ones there. Many industries were not covered at all. Over time, company websites for each niche and set of keywords and key phrases popped up.

Fast forward to today, and we see millions of search results for every common keyword, these results change according to where you run the search. We know that typing ‘SEO companies in New York’ will yield a different set of results to ‘SEO companies in California’. Also, just typing ‘SEO companies’ will give you different results depending on your location.

If you want to consistently appear on the first page of Google for ‘SEO companies’ this would mean that you’ll rank in the top ten in the whole world. The amount of work, time and money involved to achieve this would be huge, and to catch up the existing leaders might not even be realistically possible.

If we equate this to the oil and gas business, to try to rank for ‘oil service companies’ or ‘oil and gas jobs’ will be tremendously difficult. Chasing these rankings will probably fail without a sound enough business behind your website.

Remember that your business won’t need to be good, it’ll need to be in the top ten in the whole world. You might need to be in the top five in the world because some of the results might be YouTube, Wikipedia, government or media related.

There was a time where just having a website was a significant benefit; this is no longer the case. Then we saw a time where your website could be quickly SEO’d to the first page. That can still be possible for geographic search results, or some lower volume search terms. For most good search terms, building a website and just trying to rank it in the search results will most likely lead to failure.

Build it and they will come

“Build it, and they will come” is a quote from the movie ‘Field of Dreams’, and has been used to describe the philosophy of creating internet property. The citation has been used to sell SEO services, where the company said that the people wouldn’t come unless you do some SEO.

Even just a few years ago, this was an option, and websites could get artificially inflated to the top of the search. Now the search engines are better at identifying clumsy SEO tactics and penalising the sites that have got raised this way.

Nowadays, having your website appear higher in search for terms that are useful to you should be a by-product of everyday business. An effect of everything else that you are doing online or offline. If you have a robust marketing strategy and are networking well within the industry, your website will start to appear higher in the search results anyway.

There aren’t that many oil and gas online marketing companies around, ones who specialise in this industry. While an internet marketing agency can be a great help, it’ll never be a substitute for the excellent work that your company does. The very best thing that you can do in your online efforts is to go to where they have built it.

Go to where they have built it…

Over time, your network will grow bigger, so too will the profile of your company online. Just by doing solid business and networking, you’ll see more traction online. If you’ve a new business or want your existing business to grow to the next level, how do you appear in front of more people?

You go to where they already are

Imagine that you’re a Star Wars or a Star Trek geek. There’s only so much traction that you’ll get if you open up a memorabilia store in your local town or city. If you then create a website, then there’s a chance for people from all over the world to find you. Online efforts can get boosted by the smart use of social media, where posts can occasionally go viral. Most postings don’t go viral, however, especially if your online audience is small.

Repeatedly asking your Facebook or LinkedIn network to help you to share posts can come across as a bit self-promotional.

The best thing that you can do is find where your target customer is already hanging out, and go there to join them.

In many industries, this can offer a lot of choices. In the oil and gas industry, there are few places to go and congregate. There might be a Facebook or LinkedIn group that you are part of, but you likely see a lot of spam there.

The best place for you to go at the time of writing is Oilpro.com.

UPDATE: Oilpro closed down for legal reasons, separate to the community, and points made here in the article. The principles behind our points are valid, though.

These are the benefits of spending time there that immediately come to mind:

  • The community is tightly-moderated, I can’t remember the last time that I saw a spam post or comment.
  • The community is laser targeted for our industry. Almost every person who hangs out there works in the industry. ‘Hands-on and boots-on-the-ground’. That’s different to the vast majority of online communities.
  • The calibre of industry professionals is extremely high, with many world class experts publishing and commenting.
  • The comment threads are often just as valuable as the posts themselves, as intellectual debate gets us closer to the crux of every matter. That’s different to the mainstream media troll, armchair analyst and political commenter.
  • The width of readership means that new customers, clients, peers or friends can get noticed much more easily. Unlike other social media channels where there’s a tendency to see the same old faces and same old gripes.

Just as with a blog post comment, the whole world can see what you have to say on a matter, not only your 435 contacts, of which 90% won’t be online to see your post. Are you an expert in your business? Instead of preaching to the converted, let the world know about it.

Do you have a useful solution to an industry problem? Are you the best at what you do? Go to the oil and gas industries equivalent to the annual intergalactic Star Wars convention, not to the local social club.

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