Yesterday I was in Brighton at a family funeral; my Auntie Mary, who was only in her mid-60s, was told a couple of months ago that she had just six weeks to live. She was a wonderful woman and so it was no surprise that the church had just as many people standing outside, who could not get in, as there were people sitting down inside. She was loved by many more people than just her family. During the day, like everyone else there, we left the Internet behind. No one checked their emails, or Tweeted or even sent a text message. Facebook was forgotten for the day. We just joined together to celebrate the life that had passed – and we all had a lovely time remembering my Auntie Mary.
The fact that we were all able to have a lovely day, without even logging in to anything online once, was a reminder that the Internet is not the be-all and end-all of our lives, no matter how central it seems. There is more to life than the Internet.
This is the second time I’ve been reminded of this in a week. The other day a friend of mine called to say that having been diagnosed with breast cancer, she was taking early retirement, in her mid-40s, because there is more to life than just working hard. I doubt for a moment she’ll stop working – but she realised that being the CEO of a successful business is not as important as living life to the full. It was her diagnosis of cancer which made her realise that.
Frequently, we are so wrapped up in our daily lives we do not see the bigger picture, that there is more to life than what we currently focus on. Human beings are programmed to focus on the nitty-gritty. It is part of our survival mechanism. But it does not always serve us well.
Online we often see people focusing on the minuscule details of their websites or their marketing; they can’t really help it, we’re programmed that way. This was brought out recently by James Carson, the Social Media Marketing Manager for Bauer, Europe’s biggest publishing company. In a presentation to the Brighton SEO event he pointed out that when you stop focusing on the details of the Google algorithm, you can actually end up doing better out of the search engine than before.
He explained that if you focus on the bigger picture of what your website means to people, you’ll fare much better online than if you concern yourself with tiny details of web design or coding. Essentially his presentation says three things:
- Who EXACTLY is your website for?
- What will make them USE it?
- Why would they want to TELL anyone else about it?
If you can answer those questions, you will succeed online. Sadly, far too few businesses can actually answer these questions. Can you?
(Oh – and if you are wondering – my Auntie Mary would have loved James Carson; she loved anyone who made you think.)
- Takeaways from Brighton SEO 2011 (distilled.net)
- BrightonSEO 2011 Roundup: who said what and why (seoptimise.com)
- Is “Ooh, Shiny!” Destroying Your Blog? (problogger.net)
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+