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Modern Business and Content Guidance from Bell Labs

Posted by Kate Morris

I've been reading The Idea Factory, the history of the innovation that came out of Bell Labs around WWII. Innovation, invention and ideas are things that we don't get to talk much about in SEO. It's all about keywords, links, and content, but I want you to take some time today to think about ideas, inventions and innovations. Why? Because we all want to be millionaires (oh hush, yes you do), and while that might not happen to all of us, idea generation is central to our jobs in search marketing.

Bell Labs was born out of a technology being invented (the telephone) and the problems AT&T faced building a communications infrastructure in the United States (and how to connect overseas). We are talking serious problems like wood decay, birds and wires, distance and signal strength. Things we take for granted today. 

The men and women at Bell Labs strove to find the best materials, to make products and services better. We can learn from the team at Bell Labs. Use the ideals of hard work, research and development, invention, and innovation to drive us to make our websites, products, and services better. 

That's how you win on the internet. Be better than everyone else. 

Innovation is a Lengthy Process

The term "innovation" dated back to sixteenth-century England. Originally it described the introduction into society of a novelty or new idea, usually relating to philosophy or religion … an innovation defined the lengthy and wholesale transformation of an idea into a technological product or process meant for widespread practical use. 

This portion of the book really hit home with me. Innovation is a lengthy process of taking an idea to a product or process for widespread practical use. There are no overnight successes, just people that worked really hard behind the scenes pouring their blood, sweat and tears into an idea.  

The same should be true with your business and website. Innovation in your space is not just putting up a website and knowing the right keywords to target. It's about waking up at 5:30 in the morning to be at a networking breakfast at 8am a few times a month for a few years. Success is about determination, dedication and hard work. 

The time you take to discuss your idea, how you plan to be different with members of your target market, will pay back not only in the refining of that idea, but also in friends and allies when your business or website launch. Choosing the connected people is a strategic process; if they are there at 8am, they are dedicated too and have met others that are of the same breed. Now does that mean that everyone needs to go to 8am networking breakfasts? No. I hate them. But you get the idea.

Want your website to be a success? Then spend the time in the following areas:

  • Business Idea – don't copy someone else's idea unless you can be better than them and everyone else in the space doing the same
  • Website Copy – Develop the copy for your site, and if you have products what you'll let others use. Write into affiliate contracts that your product descriptions are not to be used elsewhere. Treat website content like a white paper, protect it, don't allow others to copy it. 
  • Promotion – I am not talking online promotion, I'm talking the whole marketing umbrella. This is not something you buy/outsource and leave alone. It's your baby, own it! 

Make Goals, Not Hard Timelines

Inventions are a valuable part, but invention is not to be scheduled or coerced. Harold Arnold, Bell Labs

Need $ 10k by next year? Don't build a website, add products, pay someone in another country to write copy and do SEO and think you can do that. Good ideas don't fit in timelines. You cannot rely on keyword research tools to tell you what product area has low competition and can make you millions. 

What you can do is find an area, a business idea that you really love: something that you can get lost talking about for hours and not mind. Your first goal should be to find that idea. Once you have that (and most of you do as you have clients or work in-house for someone that has that idea already), then you need to set goals for what you want to accomplish. 

The goals should be:

  • Lofty but attainable (one viral infographic a month is not an attainable goal, an increase in sales from organic search by 20% is attainable)
  • Developed around making the customer happy (the happier they are, the more you sell, simple)
  • Tied to your boss's goals (even if your boss is your wife)

Once you know what you want to do, the end result, that drives how to get there. Now you have a purpose, but you can't rush it. You will fail, content will flop sometimes, there will be a keyword that you just have a hard time ranking for. Things will go wrong but things will also go amazingly right if you focus on a good goal.

Do Something

When you don't know what to do, do something!" Jim Fisk, Bell Labs

This is my new favorite motto. Do something. As Will Critchlow says all the time, fail faster. Come up with as many ideas as you can to meet your goal, no matter how far out of the park they are. Execute. Try things, be risky, and fail (sometimes). I can almost guarantee you that even if you fail; you'll learn something you can apply to your next attempt.

studying sharks

Studying Sharks

Jim Fisk proposed a $ 50,000 study of sharks to help naval warfare. It made it to the top and the lead of Bell Labs finally killed it. How cool a story would that have made? I would have linked to it, what about you?

Dare You

Don't know what to do? Here are some ideas for every SEO out there. I dare you to try one.

  • Data Mining. Take a half-day, look into the data you have in your company about clients, about the industry. If you were to clean it all up, could you show trends about your industry? Get creative and find a way to share that information in a resource, a white paper, blog post or infographic. And then do a marketing campaign around it. If it works well, make it an annual update about the industry.
  • Content Revisit. Find your top 10 products or services pages. Revisit the content, when was it last written? Update it! Add resources; make it the page to go to for that product or service. Think from the perspective of a potential customer, what would make that page better than all of your competitor's pages? Consider new images, a video, new resources, reviews. 
  • Page 2 Revamp. Take 5 pages that rank on page 2.  Revisit the title tag and meta description of those pages. Is the title tag over optimized? Does the meta description really pull you to the page? Rewrite them to be real, accurate and descriptive!
  • $ 5000 Challenge. Ask for a budget that is normal for a project in your company or for a client and do something that is way out in left field. You in finance? Pay off someone's car loan. Don't give away a iPad, donate 100 to a school that teaches computer science to under-privileged kids. 

So would you do with $ 5000 to help your site? What is your shark bait?

Shark Stock Photo from Shutterstock

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