Finding Search Engine Gamification Again
There it was again. Sitting with friends Tonia Zampieri (@Finder411) Mark Traphagen (@MarkTraphagen), Melinda Thielbar (@Mthielbar) and George Stevenson (@NCHomeBuyer) an old idea surfaced during our Saturday Free Internet Marketing Consulting lunch at Saladelia Cafe in Durham.
Tonia is co-founder of Finder411.com, a cool hyper-local startup, Mark is one of the preeminent experts on Google Plus, Melinda is my favorite quant and George knows how to help “sell” your home by renting to buy. We were discussing TRUST. I see why now (lol). Not long after our meeting Mark published Trust: The Currency of the New Economy on NewMediaLeaders.com. A must read for anyone wanting to understand Internet marketing.
In Google We Trust
Google is one of the most important TRUST creators in our digital age. Google is a massive legitimacy filter. If you aren’t in Google and don’t rank #1 for your name you don’t have as much legitimacy as if you did. Despite all of our Social + Mobile changes Google still rocks valuable branding support, the kind of support any startup or idea needs to scale and thrive.
This post is about a slip in time I saw working for Bill Bing and Mitesh Patel at Loyalese (now RIP unfortunately). This “slip in time” idea will be worth millions to the team who reads this Search Engine Gamification post, understands the marketing implications and pulls off this big idea – that Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) can become valuable partners in SEO.
Search Engine Gamification Defined
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) may be the biggest game ever. Search Engine Gamification (SEG) is understanding the game’s rules well enough to enlist the services and support of the KING (Google). It is good to be the king because Kings set and change rules at their whim and based on their needs. Certainly kings don’t RULE with the iron hand they used too, but rule they do as Google proves with each Panda and Penguin algorithm adjustment. Another Panda update hit last week, btw coolest tool to see impact on your website’s traffic of Google’s algorithm changes is the free Panguintool.com tool.
Inside “Search Engine Gamification” there is an implied idea few know and fewer still use. Search engine gamification makes Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) an active partner in your branding and Internet marketing. Once Google created their “float”, that you and I see different results even if we type the same query at the same time, the ability to view SERPs as another feature in YOUR Internet marketing sits like a big, green frog waiting for someone to kiss it and produce the Prince inside.
How Loyalese Kissed The Search Engine Gamification Frog
My friends Bill and Mitesh kissed the frog and produced an amazing prince with Loyalese. I consulted on Loyalese before joining Atlantic BT. I failed a little too. I tried to pivot Loyalese inside of the box presented instead of seeing what I see now – the engine Loyalese built was more valuable than the thing itself. Loyalese “kissed the frog” by connecting browsers, SERPs and website in an infrastructure-like platform, a platform capable of spinning SERPs in a website’s favor based on social signals and THAT realization is the “moneyball”.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here is how Loyalese created Search Engine Gamification to alert members to websites whose affiliate money could be paid as tax free “cash back” to members (or their charities):
Loyalese tied their app to “schema” provided by Google (and available to anyone) to identify member stores (the little Loyalese Logo the green things highlighted above). Stores with the logo were willing to pay Loaylese and their members to BUY from them. Loyalese members earned post purchase “cash back”. Loyalese’s idea was somewhat similar to my friend Tim Storm’s FatWallet.com website (without the Google touch). This post isn’t about affiliate money or chasing cash back, but almost any online purchase, unless you type the URL DIRECTLY into your browser, earns a middleman website a “commission” for sharing your click and subsequent purchase with websites such as Amazon, REI, and Walmart.
Loyalese faced a “login” challenge. Nothing happened UNTIL a Loyalese member logged into Loyalese.com. Since many people login to Facebook or Google in the morning and stay logged in all day now, tapping into the Facebook and Google APIs would reduce much of the “login friction” Loyalese faced three years ago. Add the “always on” ubiquitous nature of Social + Mobile (SMobile) and Loyalese might work today. Other similar plays such as FatWallet.com and QuidCo.com have scaled (and without the powerful Google touch).
Million Dollar Search Engine Gamification Idea and The Trust Mark Game
We know websites are being replaced by platforms capable of generating increasing amounts of User Generated Content (UGC). We also know that “login via Facebook” et al. is ubiquitous and an easy and FAST way to sign up new users taking full advantage of OPP (Other People’s scaled Platforms). Add these two facts together with the ability to TAG and FLAG the SERPs with a trust mark and you have a million dollar B2B and/or B2C idea.
Trust is the game all Internet marketing depend on. If a website achieves TRUST it can get PAID. Atlantic BT creates websites for B2B and B2C customers. If we create Search Engine Gamification and enlist the SERPs by tying browser, to member profiles to search results we gamify Google.
Imagine I own a 3 store gift chain called MartysGifts.com. I hire Atlantic BT to build my website. Once we create MartysGifts.com it is part of our “ecosystem”. When other members use Google they see a distinct Atlantic BT trust mark next to MartysGifts.com (see Loyalese example above).
“Yeah but the only people who will see the Trust mark are other Atlantic BT customers,” you might be thinking and you might be right, but do the Search Engine Gamification math.
Search Engine Gamification Six Degrees Math
1,000 Stores (in Atlantic BT’s ecosystem)
50 People (directly associate with each store)
50,000 people (in the “direct touch” zone of those websites)
300,000 people (in “indirect touch” zone of those websites)
We live in a “triangle” of three cities: Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. The combined population of those three cities is 700,000, so the Atlantic BT’s ecosystem (our “network”) can touch almost half of the residents in our area. What is that level of reach worth to MartysGifts? If you were considering two Raleigh website design companies and one supported your site after the sale with an ability to touch half the people in your area and the other didn’t who would you buy the design from? Now multiply that realization times a million and you see the impact of Search Engine Gamification.
Search Engine Gamification Works For Every Website
Think my example doesn’t apply to your Small to Medium Sized business? You don’t have enough people who will want to “join” your website to make the idea worth anything.
First understand “joining” your website is a simple click of “allow” when the Facebook “create an account with Facebook” app fires. You may be a doctor, lawyer, insurance salesperson or Realtor. I would NEVER presume to tell any of those professions how to do their jobs, but anyone with a mouse tells me how to create winning Internet marketing (lol).I don’t mind, but I’ve NEVER met an amateur who understands how the Internet marketing game is played.
There are GIFTED amateurs, but the Internet marketing game is a “pros only” zone now. Even pros can fall behind, be too arrogant for their own good or make MISTAKES. The difference between PRO Internet marketers and gifted amateurs is about 5 degrees, but those five degrees are worth MILLIONS and MILLIONS of X where x is traffic, awareness, User Generated Content (UGC), attention, money or any other “currency”.
“But I don’t need something so elaborate, so complicated,” some will be thinking and they may be right. Over the 13 years I’ve been an Internet marketer I watched the bar rise, rise and rise. My Internet marketing friends LOOK FOR keywords and business verticals that are winnable with the “inside baseball” tactics they know. Listen to Gregory Ng explain why he crated FreezerBurns.com.
Gregory created a successful website now generating six figures in income yearly NOT because he loved frozen entrees. Gregory is a PRO and he entered the frozen food content marketing play because IT WAS TAKE-ABLE He could do a little work, the kind of content marketing and SEO he knows better than most, to generate a big return.
Who will be the Gregory NG of your space? Death, taxes and your space will be rolled up by a PRO are life’s new immutable truths. The question is not IF your business segment will be rolled up but WHEN. Why don’t YOU do the rolling?
“Roll Up” means a particular thing to a PRO IMer. Rolling up a space is when your website’s content and links own the search engine high ground. Google is shifting more and more traffic to your website because it is the HUB associated with a group of keywords or a business vertical. HUB or Authority status is Internet marketing nirvana.
Badging the SERPs makes any website with a badge OR any site creating the badges look BIGGER and MORE LEGITIMATE than competitors. Short distance from looking more legitimate to being more valuable in a highly viral and inter-linked content network. The Search Engine Gamification “Sell the Idea” benefit PALES in comparison to those who use Search Engine Gamification (SEG) to create TRUST and LEGITIMACY.
Tonia and Finder411 could offer an awesome value to every triangle “hyper-local” business (restaurants, dry cleaners, childcare) who joins their network. Finder411 could paint the local SERPs with “Finder411 Trust Marks” making those websites and businesses inside their ecosystem stand out ON GOOGLE. When Finder411 businesses stand out the path to TRUST and LEGITIMACY is shorter than for non_Finder411.com businesses.
Q: What is this search engine gamification idea worth? A: Millions and Millions.
PS. I didn’t give this idea to the world. Bill and Mitesh at Loyalese deserve credit for teaching me (and I am sure they had mentors). I got back in touch with the idea thanks to my Free Internet Marketing Consulting Saturday conversation with Tonia, Mark, Melinda, George and joined by Young Fenton. What do I ask if you create Search Engine Gamification and make millions? Share some of your windfall with cancer research and we will call it more than even.
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