Spinning Your Web - A Tutorial For Internet Marketing Spiders
I know I'm not the first person to make a comparison between spiders and internet marketing. In fact, the term "world wide web" sort of lends itself to spider analogies pretty naturally. I wanted to explore this a little more fully. The inspiration for this article came directly from my own observations. I think spiders do, in fact, have a lot to teach us about marketing online. That might sound a bit strange or possibly scary, but the fundamental principals at play seem to align quite well.
Now, I don't expect you to have to shift into a predatory mindset here. We're not after people's lives or blood, of course. But, just as a spider depends upon it's web for bringing in the resources it needs to sustain itself, we as internet marketers depend upon capturing traffic into our web, and transforming that traffic into sales in order to sustain our business, and provide us the resources we need to survive in this industry.
The Function Of A Web
The function of the web is to capture. If you're a spider, you need your web to be able to capture insects from which you derive your sustenance. If you're a marketer, you need your web to be able to capture traffic and convert that traffic to sales, which sustain your operation.
One of the key considerations with your web is location. This is, in fact, the first thing that must be decided upon and it is the most critical. Yes, you could always build a web one place and try it out for a while, and if it doesn't work, build it elsewhere. In theory, that's true. However, building a web takes time, energy, resources and patience. And if you flippantly spin your web from place to place and do not settle into a spot, you're likely to run out of time, energy and resources with such a vagabond approach and starve.
Of course, choose a bad location to build your web, and no matter how much you put into it, you might starve there, as well. Just as the location for a spider's web will largely determine whether it is successful in obtaining what it needs to prosper and reproduce, the location for your web will determine whether or not you will be successful in internet marketing.
Your Niche Is Your Web
So, what exactly is the web in this analogy? It's your area of operation, commonly referred to as your niche.
You want to build in a location with high traffic and low competition. That's the recipe for success. Just like a spider needs to select the exact same conditions for it's web. If it sets it up somewhere with a hundred other webs nearby, it might find all of it's potential food sources caught in other spider's webs. It might find it's own web gets overshadowed or blocked off completely, or it may lead into a direct life or death confrontation with a nearby spider who hasn't heard that "sharing is caring."
Observe Before You Build
In selecting the proper niche to operate in, you want to use some observation. If you were a spider looking for a location for a web, you'd want to use one those (typically) eight eyes and really check out your territory. Maybe that's part of why spiders have so many eyes to begin with. Observation is a key component to their survival. You should consider it the same for yourself.
Utilize the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. Make sure you have a niche with a lot of traffic. You want to know that this isn't a location you're going to starve in. You also want to check out the strength of the competition. Use a research strategy based on long tail keywords. When you've identified those good long tail keywords that will all act as strands in your web, check the Google results. Make sure you're seeing PageRank of 3 or lower for the keywords on the first 10 results. If not, there's bigger spiders there, and they are likely too challenging to conquer initially. You can revise your keyword terms until you discover many that fit.
A good niche with a variety of rankable (possible to achieve 1st place or at least first page Google results) keyword terms will give you what you need. That's your web and it's strands. Make sure your web has room for expansion. In other words, ensure your niche has an abundance of useful keyword terms that you can utilize. This way you will be free to branch out and expand your capturing potential overtime.
Maintain A Quality Web
The quality of a spider's web is actually an indication of it's success and it's health. When you see a spider sitting around in a weak, broken, disorganized web, you can be sure that spider hasn't eaten for a while and is on it's last legs. This is a real downward spiral, because with a web in that condition, the chances of the spider receiving the prey it needs to get the energy and resources to patch up it's web are greatly reduced.
Maintain your content and make sure it is quality material. Poorly made content is like holes in a web. Errors, typos, poor grammar and spelling, poor layout are all factors which are going to reduce your ability to capture and maintain traffic long enough for a conversion. Create quality content, and then maintain that content. If it's going to become dated overtime, revise it. You'll see a spider do the exact same thing. They will lay new web over old, as the old becomes weakened through time and use. You don't need to rewrite entire articles, but you may need to revisit them the odd time and make a few tweaks here and there or add some fresh content.
Never Let Go Of A Buyer
This one might seem a bit on the morbid side, but I want to include it, because I think it's a vital factor: Once a spider does capture and convert it's traffic, it will continue to draw sustenance from that traffic for as long as it can. This is why you'll find those neat little cocoon like bundles of bugs in their webs. They make sure that once there's a sale, they're getting all they can from that buyer.
Those of you who do e-mail marketing are likely well aware of the value of keeping close contact with your buyers. When you turn a lead into a buyer, you have a whole other level of marketing opportunity. Whether your product is an ebook or an ad click, develop an infrastructure that lets you keep tabs on your sales and maintain contact. Depending on the platform you are on, this is not always easy to do. For one thing, you're not always going to know who clicked your affiliate link. But, as much as you can, keep in contact with buyers.
When I say "buyers", I mean it in a very general sense. Let's say you have a hub here on HubPages and you receive a comment. That's a buyer. You pitched them a product (your hub), and they read it and enjoyed it. They demonstrated this by leaving a comment. This automatically makes that lead more qualified than random traffic. In other words, if you want more comments, you'll know those who have commented already are more likely than strangers to comment in the future, and you can then focus your energy appropriately.
Don't set up in a niche, and a few weeks later abandon it and go somewhere else. Once you vet that niche, maintain your presence there. You need to be patient and you need to persist. It's going to generally take at least 3 months to even begin to evaluate how likely your are to succeed in a niche. Don't rush in and rush out.
Like a spider, you want to build a strong web, and continue to improve it. A spider doesn't have the luxury of spinning one could web every night, or maybe they wouldn't end up as stationary as they are. You're unlikely to have the time and resources to build something up just to abandon it or tear it down and rebuild it elsewhere. Stick it out in one spot, and persist. So long as you haven't totally departed from a sane selection process, your niche will begin paying off.
The passive income opportunity with internet marketing can't be under-estimated. It's a big draw for people, and I completely understand that, because that's what excited me the most, too. But, when we examine the spider we do notice something: The spider needs to be there.
Have you ever seen an empty web snag a bug? That insect will usually get stuck, squirm around and try to break loose. If that web isn't strong enough, or that spider fast enough, it will fall out of the web, or fly out of the web and go free.
There's definitely potential for purely passive income with the internet, but if you really want to maximize your profits, you need to be active part of the time. You still have a role to play. You might reduce that active component down to just promoting a series of productive money-making content you already have. You might even take it a step further, and outsource all the active components with a portion of the profits from the passive components. That's brilliant. But you will still need to have some active work if you want to achieve full benefit from what you've done. Once you've put the energy forward, you're likely to find that 10% active effort pays off significantly more than 0% active.
A lazy or absent spider will still catch some bugs in it's web while it's lounging, so long as it's web is very strong and those bugs are very weak. If you want more than "some", you have to work for it, or just be comfortable knowing that in exchange for a totally passive system, you are missing out on more significant income.
What Do You Think?
What inspiration can you take from how a spider operates?
Do you think this analogy is creepy or cool?