Content and SEO // Your online Ghost Army

Marketing people tend to get very excited about their paid campaigns. And rightly so – they cost money. But what if you don’t have a marketing budget any more…?  

Or, even if you had a budget, there may be a good argument for not doing paid advertising right now…? 

If you’ve been relying on paid promotions to generate traffic… what do you do now?

Go organic

Quite often organic search as a source of traffic gets no attention or worse, people post utter bull$s1t believing that’ll do.

Organic search, with some planning and strategy, can be the biggest and most valuable source of traffic to your website. As I mentioned in a previous post, on average 53% of traffic to business websites (including B2B) comes from organic search. But people and companies just expect organic search traffic will come. 

Lots of military precision style planning and tactics will go into paid promotions. If paid campaigns are your ‘troops’ that advance into your target audience’s territory to win hearts and minds, then an organic search strategy (content and SEO) can be your Ghost Army. This will plug the gaps between paid campaigns, keep up a connection with your audience, and ultimately keep traffic flowing to your website.

Ghost Army… WTF?

One of the most successful campaigns in World War II, you could argue, was achieved without using real soldiers, without firing a shot, and without massive casualties. Looking at it from a branding or marketing point of view, it was an incredible display of daring from one of the most conservative brands in the world. When you think of the US armed forces you think of awesome might and power. The results they generate are not typically the most creative of solutions.

But this one time…

Two weeks after D-Day in 1944, the German army fell back behind the Moselle River in northern France to regroup. 

The Allied forces followed their retreat but soon realized they were spread too thin across the front. As a result, there was a massive gaping hole 75 miles along their offensive line. If the Germans became aware of this gap, they could easily punch through and possibly recapture a stronghold in Northern France.

Enter the Ghost Army

The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops or the Ghost Army as they became known were a band of over 1,100 creatives – artists, writers, audio technicians, and designers – that launched over 20 successful campaigns throughout World War II. 

They were recruited from art schools, advertising agencies, and other creative thinking occupations in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Their weapons of choice were inflatables (tanks, artillery, and aircraft), scripted radio transmissions, and giant speakers broadcasting sounds of men and artillery trudging across the French countryside. 

content marketing and seo
Fake Tanks, Ghost Army Helped Defeat Germans During WW ll
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Actors would go from town to town drinking coffee or glasses of wine, discussing the incoming Allied troops knowing they were being listened to by German spies. Similarly, radio broadcasts between troop encampments would describe the amount of artillery and manpower that was rolling across the countryside. Massive speakers in the woods would blast the sound heavy machinery to add some sonic deception to the stories being peddled across the airwaves and in the cafes. 

Bulldozers and mechanical diggers would spend hours crisscrossing the French countryside to give the illusion from overhead that there was heavy artillery on the move. Inflatables would seal the deal.

They fooled the enemy, keeping the Germans pegged back behind the Moselle for nearly two weeks, long enough for supporting Allied forces to arrive. 

The rest, as they say, is history.

What has this got to do with organic search?

I came across this fascinating story on the 99% Invisible podcast (Ep. 161 – Show of Force), a show that describes how unseen design work is responsible for making life better.

The US Army essentially designed a solution that made its army seem bigger, stronger, and more importantly, present when people went looking.

Your organic search strategy can do exactly the same thing 

The whole point of putting content on your website is to attract visitors. Sometimes this might take the form of a paid promotion. But the rest of the time, you are trying to reach people through organic search. Or, more accurately, they are trying to find you.

In order to get found some keyword research will tell you what your customers use to search for the product and services you offer. Tools like Google Search Console will tell you the keywords people used to land on your website. Some thought and consideration will help you build a content calendar so you can create relevant, engaging content that answers people’s questions and talks directly to your target market.

You can’t just assume people will find you because you are on the internet. The US army didn’t wait for the enemy to come probing for holes in the offensive line. They created a message around how strong their proposition was and broadcast it far and wide.  When the curious came looking they were greeted with a strong proposition. 

If someone searched for your business now, would they find a compelling, strong proposition in the Google SERP?

The danger is, if they don’t find you, they’ll assume you don’t do what it is they are looking for and move on with one of your competitors.

Putting some thought into content marketing and using SEO tactics will create your own Ghost Army for your brand.

You cannot not communicate

“You cannot not communicate” is a great quote from “The Pragmatics of Human Communication” by Paul Watzlawick published in 1967. It presents five axioms as basic rules explaining how human communication and its paradoxes work: 

Axiom #1 is everything we say, don’t say, do or don’t do conveys a message — you cannot not communicate.

If you’re not on the internet, that’s saying something to people looking for your product or service.

If you are on the internet make sure what your saying is worth it.

Your content (with the help of some SEO) will turn up in SERPs 24/7/365 when people come looking. It will be an always-on campaign and make your company appear bigger, stronger, and more present than the competition. It’ll be your Ghost Army.