More and more marketers today are becoming savvy to the power that search engines hold in dictating website traffic and overall sales for many companies. Small businesses have started to approach us regularly with requests for search engine optimization and an expectation that their site will magically start generating more leads. Yes, it’s no secret that Google can turn a small company’s website into its top sales vehicle in a very short period of time. But, achieving this success takes more than just a one-time search engine optimization effort.
First off, let me start with a few Wikipedia references so we’re all on the same page:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results for targeted keywords.
- Search Engine Algorithms – The set of rules, instructions and equations used by search engines to analyze online content and determine relevancy.
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – a form of Internet marketing that seeks to promote websites by increasing their visibility in the search engine result pages (SERPs) through search engine optimization, paid placement, and paid inclusion.
- Internet marketing (a.k.a. Online Marketing) – the process of growing and promoting an organization, and its products and services, using online media.
Grab Your Partner Doe-Se-Doe
In our ongoing quest to keep up with the latest search engine and internet marketing strategies, we often hear about the dramatic and sometimes devastating effects that a slight change in Google’s algorithms can have on companies’ bottom lines. These stories serve as good examples of why you don’t want to put all your eggs in the SEO basket.
While an initial SEO effort during the development and launch of a new website is definitely needed in today’s online marketplace, ongoing internet marketing strategies can be executed that will not only complement your SEO efforts and improve your overall traffic, but also help shield you from the ever-changing search engine algorithms.
That’s Some Good Squid
Talking about internet marketing strategies with clients often takes me back to the summers of my youth when my family used to all pile in the van and drive to Tampa, Florida to visit my retired grandparents. Their home backed up to the intercoastal waterway, which always meant great fishing. Immediately upon our arrival, my grandpa always broke out a plethora of fishing poles, grabbed some squid from the freezer and the whole family headed out on the dock to cast our lines. I tell you this story because within minutes, we’d have eight fishing lines in the water and my grandpa would say, “The more hooks we have out there, the more fish we’re gonna’ catch.”
Internet Marketing is no different. The more lines you cast with sharp hooks and enticing bait, the more fish you’ll bring in. Said another way…The more targeted online mediums you participate in and offer high-quality, original content, the more traffic you will generate for your site.
And as an added benefit, the fish you release back into the water are going to go tell their fish friends about the succulent squid they just tasted.
Internet Marketing Strategies That Work
Just like any successful marketing campaign, doing some research to get your bearings is a good place to start. We typically start with an audit of your industry’s online offerings to determine who is participating, what they are talking about, which websites are hosting these discussions, what your competition is doing and how you can get in the mix.
Using this information, it’s time to sit down and map out a plan for which internet marketing tasks are appropriate, feasible and within your marketing budget. Here are a few that typically make the cut:
- Website Directory/Buyer’s Guides Submission – Getting listed in online industry directories and product/service buyer’s guides can help you hook influential industry practitioners and is a great source for backlinks, which increases your site’s overall page rank in many search engines.
- Participation in Industry Blogs and Forums – Niche blogs and forums are powerful communication tools used by industry enthusiasts to converse about companies, products and services. Your genuine, consistent participation in these sites can reap significant rewards.
- Corporate Blog/Forum Development – Is your industry behind the times? Can’t find blogs or forums that are covering your industry, products or services? If you build it, they will come…Being the first to offer an arena for candid discussion about your industry positions you and your company as the thought leader.
- E-mail Marketing – When compared to traditional advertising, printed newsletters or direct mail, e-newsletters and e-blasts (electronic direct mail) are almost no-brainers since they can be executed quicker, are more cost effective and provide almost immediate customer feedback and marketing analysis.
Other Search Engine Marketing Strategies that Work
Comparing internet marketing tactics to search engine marketing tactics is a lot like comparing public relations to advertising. Public relations takes some work, but is often high-quality, free publicity, whereas successful advertising campaigns can be a significant expense.
That being said, search engine advertising (paid placement, Pay-Per-Click (PPC)) is among the most effective form of advertising on the planet today. Combine a well-funded Pay-Per-Click campaign with a high-quality website and you may find yourself swamped with new business in a matter of days.
A Consistent Effort Wins the Day
Regardless of your industry or marketplace, your potential customers are increasing their use of online mediums to research products and services everyday. And with all those fish swimming about, why not cast as many lines as possible everyday? Many of the strategies and tactics outlined in this article can be executed affordably and come pre-packaged with powerful analysis tools that will show you real-time ROI.