ALOHA Philosophy of SEO and Digital Marketing – Updated for 2017 (and Beyond)


Three years ago I coined what I call the ALOHA philosophy of SEO. I wrote a guest post about it for an online marketing agency in the Pacific Northwest. I won’t link to it, because I’m updating the philosophy for you here today. In case you don’t believe me, I’ve uploaded a screenshot. Can you believe I wore a sweater vest and tie?

Aloha SEO

While the philosophy needs an update, the core message remains relevant regardless the changes to the world of search engine optimization over the past few years. It has and will continue to shape the way I manage clients’ digital marketing strategies.

Now you may think that I’m speaking to the ancient Hawaiian concept of Aloha. This law references the essence of relationships in which each individual is important to every other individual for collective existence. Does this apply to business? You bet. But in this context, I break ALOHA down as an acronym. Within, you will find the key to a successful digital marketing strategy.

Without further adieu, let’s get into it.

How the ALOHA Philosophy Will Shape Your Business’ Digital Marketing Strategy

A – Appearances
Looks are important. All of the functional bells and whistles on your website won’t matter if the aesthetic design is a throwback to 2007. In fact, a website should receive a “surface” facelift every two years to keep appearances up to modern consumer behavior and expectations. Why? For one, humans (your customers, I assume) now have a shorter attention span that goldfish. 8 seconds to be exact. Only your landing page aesthetics will keep them there that long. Once you’ve dazzled them, they can then go on to navigate your site and take the action you want them to take.

Appearances aren’t just about font, colors and images. Your site’s navigation should be highly visible and inviting. Appearances must also adapt and respond to all mobile devices on the mainstream market. Responsive design will make sure that your site looks (and works) as great on tablets and smartphones as it does on laptops and desktops.

Don’t know where to start? Have a new homepage (or landing page) designed and run an A/B test (against your current design) on Google Analytics along with the likes of Visual Website Optimizer, Unbound, or other reputable A/B testing software. See how your traffic responds by looking at the Bounce Rate.

You only get one chance to make a first impression, which is why the first “A” in Aloha is dedicated to Appearances.

L – Local

Local search engine optimization is the now and future of SEO/SEM. Even if your service area extends far beyond the reaches of your corporate office or store, you need to target consumers in their locale. That means your digital marketing program should be broken down region by region.

If your business has one service area, it’s relatively easier. This is one SEM guideline that has remained consistent through the last few years. The same rules that applied to getting on the Google map then, apply today. That year-after-year consistency says something. These rules include the following:

  • Set-up and optimize your Google My Business page
  • Ensure that your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) is consistent on all local directories (online Yellow Pages, etc.)
  • Earn positive Google Reviews from satisfied customers
  • Optimize your static and fresh (blog, etc.) content for your local market
  • Earn backlinks from high-value local websites (view this beginner’s guide to getting other websites to link to yours)

If your business has multiple service areas, you still need to follow the checklist above, but you will also need to create unique landing pages that are optimized to capture traffic from each respective locale. And don’t forget to add and manage all of the locations within Google My Business.

O – Optimized

The word is all-encompassing when it comes to SEO. It is search engine optimization after all. But we can break it down into two parts. On-page and off-page.

On-page SEO, is the technical stuff. It includes your website’s navigational architecture, your sitemap, page speed and the UX that keeps people on your site, moving from page to page in a logical fashion. It includes HTTPS encryption and also includes your meta-data. Meta-data references your targeted keyword titles, headings, and descriptions that allow you to rank for terms and expressions that convert visitors into paying customers/clients.

Off-page SEO references the signals that connect other sites and networks to yours. While there is more to it, your off-page SEO profile is predominantly comprised of backlinks (pointing to your site) from high-authority websites such as local online media, bloggers, and online resources relevant to your industry.

H –  Helpful

The true spirit of the Aloha philosophy is altruism. And while that could have been an “A” in the acronym, the word helpful is more apt.

I know your priority is to sell a product or service. But if that’s all your website is about, your digital marketing strategy will fall flat. Websites that only display what’s for sale, without providing visitors with a broader context of complementary information that help them solve the problem addressed by your product/service, are not recognized as an authority.

For instance, if you manage a car dealership, don’t just add pages of automobile makes and models with price tags. Post articles that answer questions that potential customers have, representing a concern unique to your demographic. For example, a coastal dealership may post “How to Protect Your Car from Salt Water Air” whereas a dealership in an urban metropolis would post “Best SUVs for City Driving”. You get the idea.

Google auto-complete will be your guide in how to help answer questions that real customers have. Start typing in the who (is the…), what (is the…), why (does…), where (can I…), when (can I…) as it relates to your field and see what Google fills out. This will guide you to write a series of articles that your customers/clients are actually looking for. Become helpful without a glaring agenda (sell, sell, sell) and find that consumers and search engines alike will appreciate you as an authority in your industry. Then, those online sales will come.

A – Amity

The definition of amity is “a friendly relationship”. This is where social media comes into play. Social media presents businesses with the opportunity to engage and interact with prospective customers/clients. It does so on a platform where you can control how they see you. You must put your best foot forward. You must be cordial, considerate, informative, and useful if you want them to pay you any mind (you are a business, after all).

Each year, social network signals have more of an influence on SEO. By building and maintaining your following on social networks you enhance your entire digital marketing campaign. Your business should be active every day of the week in a combination that includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Engage followers in conversation without selling them. When the opportunity presents itself (a question or quandary is posed, by them) you can then invite them to view an article or item back on your website that provides a solution to their want, need, or concern.

When it comes to social networking, your brand will always want to take a positive tone. Stay away from topics that incite negativity, which can include (but are not exclusive to) politics and religion (unless of course those are your literal business). Consumers may use social media to vent their frustrations with life in general, but brands should not. Keep the tone happy, helpful, and enthusiastic and your audience will respond accordingly.

Acronym aside, the philosophy should also encompass the true sense of Aloha spirit, as it was intended. The essence of relationships in which your business is important to consumers and vice versa serves your collective existence on the world wide web, as much as it does in the real world.

If you’re ready to apply the Aloha philosophy to your digital marketing strategy, contact me at your earliest convenience.