Saturday, January 2, 2010

Learn the Rules of the Game

A smart man once said, "You don't have to know all the answers, you just need to know where to find them when you have a question to answer." Looking back, he was a college librarian and was showing us the Dewey Decimal System (Pre-Internet and Pre-Google, boy I am old) but the quote still rings true today. If you had all the answers you wouldn't be able to take the time to solve any problems or look for any opportunities, you would just be stock piling information and that is what tools like Google are for.

Is Google the answer?
What did we do before we had Google? Lexis-Nexis, Encyclopedia Britannica, and the Dewey Dismal System were all low-tech versions of Google, and some day something will organize information better than Google....yes I said it.

What does this mean for us Search Engine Marketers?
Whether you are in the SEM industry (or any industry for that matter) you have to learn how to solve problems and identify opportunities. It won't help you to know everything about CSS or JavaScript because in a few years they will be replaced with Flash or another software that renders Websites on an Internet Browser better. And believe me, Google is not the only answer to this question. How many of the proprietary reports, studies, documents, and information from you company are posted on Google?

Learn how to solve problems and identify opportunities
What are the rules of the game, whether it be a search algorithm or demographic of consumers? Do you have historical data, are you listening to credible trend setters, and keeping up with information from industry experts? It is great to learn all about your industry and the day-to-day changes but don't forget eventually the information you have will become obsolete (especially in the Internet age).

Learn the Rules of the Game
Look into what has worked in the past and identify a set of problems or opportunities that make up the "Rules of the Game." Create a "Plan of Action" and a hypothesis for what you want to find when you are done. Analyze the data until you feel comfortable with your data set and have exhausted the majority of the options available. Use your proprietary information to assist your data set, adding some context to the information compiled.

Then it is time to implement your solutions while closely measuring the outcomes of the implementation. Analyze the outcomes and see if you found what you are looking for. Identify the changes in the rules of the game and anything missing and continue the process until you get results that are acceptable. Most importantly, keep a close eye on the competition so you don't fall behind, any game has multiple players and they are always trying to out score you.

The Bottom Line
Create a set of steps that fit your needs, industry, or problem, and solve any problem or identify any opportunity to become the High Score in any game. All things are a game, and all games have rules. Figure out the rules and you will know how to play the game to your advantage.

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