Internet marketing. Online marketing. Digital marketing.
These terms loosely mean the same thing: the use of online platforms to promote businesses and generate sales. Many local and more traditional companies are sceptical about it’s efficacy in delivering returns. Yet other businesses attempt to harness the solutions the Internet provides and quickly get overwhelmed.
Lets face it, local businesses are no different from big corporations, we are all out to provide a service and make a profit.
Sure, our marketing budgets will differ, but why should our marketing processes be any different? The efficiency of digital marketing is summed up below:
• It’s a cheaper traffic source compared to traditional channels. The cost of creating and running a radio jingle at peak periods far outstrips a social media campaign or even a PPC campaign for a set of local keywords.
• It’s a highly effective way of attracting customers. On digital platforms, your campaigns can be hyper-targeted to attract prospects that are more likely to spend. With traditional approaches, it’s often more of a spray-and-pray approach.
• It offers a unique way to combine and recycle multiple strategies to get an incredible ROI.
The question now becomes, how do you harness it’s benefits?
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, email marketing, SEO, backlinks; the list goes on. Digital marketing channels and tactics abound; choosing what woks best for your business can become a chore. You may have been sold on the need to have nine regularly updated social media profiles, a long-running email newsletter, posting videos on YouTube everyday. But all these come to nothing, if you don’t cover the basics.
It all starts with your website and it’s optimisation.
How does a site gets ranked in the search engines? When people use search engines to look up phrases and keywords, algorithms called ‘spiders’ crawl your site, looking for indicators of your site’s relevance to that keyword. This is basically how the search engines decide how and where your site should rank.
SEO is the art, (and science) of making sure your site shows up in the search engines for certain keywords. It involves understanding your prospects, developing a site and useful content, how the search engine spiders rank, optimizing the site, promoting the site etc. Attempting to understand all this can quickly overwhelm you. The right foundation for your site starts with getting the following elements correct in the right proportion:
• On-Page SEO – A lot of elements make up your site and how the world sees it. The site structure, how keywords are used, ease of navigation, site speed; these and more can make or break your site in the user and search engine’s ‘eyes’. Missing out on the correct use of certain elements can deter a site’s growth.
• Off-Page SEO – Often described as ‘what others say about you’, off-page deals with promotion. Now, this doesn’t involve mass link buying schemes or dropping asinine blog comments, but links from authoritative, relevant sites. Local businesses can use local directories and citations to optimize their sites so they show up in local area listings.
• Social links are part of the promotion phase but many businesses are tricked into thinking this should be their main focus. A social campaign developed for directing prospects to your site will fail, if visitors cannot effectively navigate your site to find what they want. Getting targeted social links can help a site if other elements are in place.
• Content marketing is a part of the on-site SEO that many webmasters also get wrong. They’re sold on the idea that the more keywords you have on a page, the better that page would rank. Google cracked down on this by issuing a keyword-stuffing penalty for sites doing such. Having more content trumps more keywords any day.
Each element of SEO is important for attaining high search engine rankings. Attempting to use them independent of each other simply doesn’t work.
Not using SEO and hoping your business website will be found in any of the search engines is akin to chasing fool’s gold. It simply wont happen.
• Your site will never be found for any keywords, because you didn’t optimise the content on it.
• Your articles will never be read because you are not reaching out to influencers in your industry.
• Your social profiles become ineffective as they don’t link to a page that provides any value to visitors.
Not every business actually needs a large SEO campaign. Depending on your keywords, a local-focused SEO campaign can increase your footfall with a minimal marketing spend. A word of caution though, SEO is both a science and an art. Tinkering with keywords, page titles, internal links can be confusing to a non-SEO. When in doubt, call a professional like Search and More Ltd to help you expand your reach online.