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The Importance of Consistency in Online Engagement

Over the years, I’ve had countless conversations with PRWeb customers of all shapes and sizes and one thing I’ve noticed is that the first time most customers come up to bat, they swing for the fences.  What happens shortly thereafter often determines whether they become a lifelong customer or a one-off.

Some first-timers hit home runs.  These guys have waited until they had something significant to announce (e.g. their company’s launch, a new technology, etc.).  Their story may have resulted in a tier-one media placement or at least a few interviews with local media.  More often than not, they also experience a nice spike in Web traffic.  Normally, the home run hitters are satisfied with the results and will come back – however their formative experience with PRWeb teaches them to only share content when they have something “big” to announce.

Second, you have the guys who swing for the fences but don’t hit home runs.  Maybe they put their story out on a competitive day in the news sphere or maybe they just didn’t have a particularly compelling story.  These customers will often leave while their news quietly works in the background, building equity in their domain.  Some percentage of these customers will return however (sometimes years down the road) when they get a sale or an inquiry from a customers who finds their article in search down the road.

Either way, there is a difference in the approach between first-timers and what I like to call PRWeb veterans.  Veterans don’t necessarily swing for the fences each time they are up to bat because they are often looking at results in a different framework than first-timers.  Veterans tend to be more focused on the long-term metrics like search rankings and overall Web traffic than the more immediate results.

Take Yaniv Masjedi from Nextiva business VoIP services for example.  According to Masjedi, “PRWeb releases get attention when they first go out however we look at the long-term performance of the releases in organic search for relevant long-tail search terms as well as the overall performance of our site for our targeted key terms.”  Similarly, Aristotle from Greece (who would have made a great SEO consultant) explains, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Consistency is something we all tend to regard as a good thing.  Consistency in our diets and in our daily lives is something we all strive for.  The positive return is not always tangible in the moment (not many people would truly rather eat a salad than a hamburger) although we intuitively understand that it is good for us over time.  When it comes to online engagement and performance, consistency is just as important.

Here are some reasons why:

Your competitors are engaging online – Just because you are able to achieve solid results today doesn’t mean that you should rest on your laurels.  According to Forrester research, 42% of SMBs (small and medium businesses) are already using SEO tactics however 21% are planning to use these tactics in the next twelve months.  This figure represents a rate of adoption higher than any other marketing tactic currently being employed by SMBs.

According to Ben Finklea, CEO of Volacci, a search engine optimization and marketing firm, “Some SEO clients have the belief that SEO is a one time activity.  They discontinue a campaign after securing a position.  They do not take into account that competitors are also engaged and soon will catch-up.

Staying present in the news sphere – According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, over 43% of Americans go online to get news on a daily basis.  In fact, getting news is the most popular online activity after “sending or reading e-mail” and “using a search engine” and is (gasp) even more popular that “using an online social networking site.”  The news sphere is a powerful medium through which to communicate with your target audience however news stories have a limited lifespan.  News engines like Google News and Yahoo! News typically host stories for 28-days.  This means that a story shared through PRWeb (or any comparable service) is likely to exist within the news domain for about a month.  To stay plugged into news consumers on a consistent basis, it’s recommended that you share relevant news content at least once per month.

The importance of consistency in building domain equity – The Internet is an extremely dynamic ecosystem, where things change at blinding speed.  Not only do search engines look at the total volume of links pointing to a given domain to help understand the relative authority of a domain, but they also will look at the rate at which links are generated to determine the authority of a given domain.  We have observed numerous cases in which a domain has dropped in the search results, despite having a solid set of inbound links, due to periods of dormancy.

According to Lee Odden from TopRank Online Marketing, “The diversity of link sources and rate of link acquisition are more important than ever for companies that want to achieve, maintain and increase organic search traffic.  Consistent use of information distribution services like PRWeb create an opportunity to achieve a variety of exposure opportunities and links.  Depending on the mix of link building tactics in place and the competitive landscape, interruption of link acquisition can definitely affect search visibility and website traffic.  We’ve seen this with clients that have reduced or stopped content promotion tactics like press release distribution.”

The emerging importance of recency in search engines – It’s been well documented that recency is an important variable in news search, however recency also plays a role in standard organic search.  First, news stories can enter the organic search results in some cases, but only for a limited period of time.  Additionally, our own internal research has shown that news stories that place in organic search (normally for longer-tail terms) do drop over time due to what we believe to be a combination of competitive activity and dormancy in inbound link activity to these stories.

The seasonal nature of search – Just like any media, search is seasonal in nature.  Search queries – particularly consumer queries – tend to shift quite a bit throughout the year. Shrewd marketers realize this and will adapt content to perform online based on where trends are going.  For example, take queries of a keyword like “allergies” (a topic that I happen to care a great deal about, sniff).  Observe how the search volume shoots up around April.

Yet the news reference volume remains relatively consistent – clearly a situation where there is increasing demand but steady supply.  In other words, if you have a business or product and can work in any connection to “allergies,” now is definitely a good time to act (and if you have a miracle cure, please send it to me).

The importance of consistency to your audience – Finally (and this is something that is overlooked all too often), people care about consistency.  The bloggers, journalists, and customers you ultimately want to engage with  are rarely going to be stirred into activity on the first go-around.  Any salesperson worth their salt knows that it takes at least a few interactions to close most customers and the same can be said for your target audience.  Whether it is a journalist you are trying to pitch or a customer you are trying to convert, the key is to be consistent in your messaging so that they realize you are legit.

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