As a small business owner, you’re constantly trying new marketing techniques to grow your business. In the digital age, you may find yourself with an overwhelming number of strategies which you could potentially use to reel in new customers and increase the presence of your business online. One of these tactics is SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), which is the process improving the quality and relevancy of your website with regards to certain search terms that potential consumers are using. Getting traffic from free is a surefire way to reduce your overall spend while attracting the right audience through effective keyword choices.
But the question remains: Is SEO worth doing? Is it better than social media marketing, direct mailing or pay-per-click advertising? We’ll explore the different marketing tools available, and how they stack up against SEO. And hopefully, you’ll be able to make an informed decision moving forward on your next marketing initiative. If there’s one thing you should keep in mind, it is that you needn’t run one of these strategies exclusively. You can use several different methods simultaneously in order to achieve the desired result. In fact, this may even improve your chances to reach your marketing goals more cost-effective and within an ideal timeframe.
Before we get into comparisons between other digital marketing strategies and SEO itself, let’s familiarise ourselves with how Search Engine Optimisation works. The aim of the game is it rank higher up in google searches. You may think: “That’s easy! We’ll just pay for the placement – the higher the bid, the better chance we have to making it to the top!”. Nope, that is paid search or PPC and is different than SEO.
Successfully attracting the right organic traffic is all about careful choices and exploring the market to be cognizant of where you will win your battles. It’s not as simple as throwing money at search terms. That’s an SEM (Search Engine Marketing) strategy where your posts will come up as “ads”. SEO tries to get your business’s web page to the top of a Google search without having to pay Google or Bing or some other search engine for the premium placement itself – you have to earn it. These are the results that most people are looking for anyway. Studies show that in most markets viewers are most likely skipping over the ads entirely in favour of an “organic” lead presented by teh search engine.
Most businesses will need SEO in the modern age. Your website, as well as any other digital assets you may have, is an introduction of your business to prospective consumers. It’s easy to get started; you can use the free Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool to do a little keyword research to see how many searches are being made with relevant terms to your business. Local small businesses have the benefit of adding a location-based targeting filter to increase their efficiency when targeting their consumers.
Whenever you see a “sponsored” link in your google search results, it is being shown to you because the advertiser has chosen to use a PPC strategy to reach you. They will only pay if you click on the link to their website – hence the very appropriate name for the strategy.
Site owners often find PPC very useful, especially those who aren’t looking to shell out heap-loads of advertising bucks for their campaigns. PPC allows you to reach demographics/psychographics that align with their target market, which improves the chances of converting a click into a lead. With PPC you can target a very specific audience and have reasonable control over your spend which enables you to carefully manage your Return on Investment (ROI). PPC also has a significant advantage that SEO generally does not, you can expect results and traffic (if you are targeting the right audience) within days or weeks, not months or years as with SEO.
Again, we want to stress that we’re not trying to forcefully establish with service or tool is going to have a better impact over another – rather, we want to provide the context that helps you understand what does what. Depending on what you want out of your campaign these various forms of digital marketing fit together and complement one another to ensure a more effective presence online. Both tactics have the same end goal of increasing the visibility of a given business in the search engine results. SEM is geared towards precisely targeting your desired consumer base by using an allocated marketing budget, while SEO optimizes your businesses’ website by making it more Google-friendly and having other reputable sources validate its credibility.
Since early 2010, companies like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, have been using their content driven websites as a platform to host ads. Since the ad assumes the aesthetic appearance of a regular post, users are more likely to engage with the messaging or content of brand sponsored posts while in a social media space.
SMM allows people with little to no experience in running ad campaigns to easily create and run one of their own. The big four (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram) all have ad management dashboards in place to facilitate the creation and implementation of video or image-based ads on their sites, and in turn, their newsfeeds. These platforms offer targeting not usually available on traditional digital websites, given that they collect tonnes of proprietary data about their users. For example, on Facebook, you can target individuals who have very specific interests, such as extreme sports or collecting coral frags. You can also target people who are connected to a certain individual subscribed to your FB business page. It is common practice for advertisers who use social media to constantly optimise, trying to test and improve their campaigns.
SEO is a very different beast to SMM. You can implement several different kinds of strategies when on SMM, from generating leads and growing your business’s social community to doing an awareness push for a new product launch. SMM can be utilised to serve almost any marketing need. Depending on the type of business you run, you could operate solely from your social media page – without a website. However, if you are using your website as your primary conduit to generate leads or connect with your consumer, then finding the good middle-ground is definitely the path to take!
Email marketing is a staple of any modern advertising campaign; advertisers have been generating sales via direct contact with clients for almost two decades! You yourself are subject to several emails every day that provides updates and exclusive offers regarding an event or business. They can be annoying, but if done correctly, direct mailing can be a powerful tool to reach the right people with an impactful message.
Have you ever filled out a form to enter a sweepstakes-type competition or to receive an exclusive white paper? You probably include your name, location, age, business name & type, and a whole load of other information. This becomes proprietary data for the entity collecting this information, which often includes your email. Businesses can use these emails as potential leads and send messaging that is relevant to the consumer in order to make sales. If done well, customizable emails can look very professional and could serve as a means to represent the business in a favorable light.
Very much like SMM, Direct Mailing is beneficial mostly in its ability to target the people who would most likely be interested in your business. It can also be a great driver of traffic to your site, but isn’t as fully encompassing as SEO. If you are running a campaign for a very specific purpose, like promoting a new clothing line, then direct marketing will probably give you better results.
SEO can be very powerful, bringing new customers to your business and bolstering your reputability on Google Search. We woudl argue that you should conduct on and off-site SEO before you engage in any big budget marketing plays. If branded well, your business could reach a potential consumer via a digital impression (meaning that they see a search result in Google or Bing etc.). However, you’ll never connect with them if their search results don’t show anything related to your business! Staying on top of the pack is key to having a healthy online presence for your brand. And it’s a constant process of refining and tailoring your site to match the relevancy of the searches; it takes a good amount of time before you see results – but they are worth it! Nothing worth having ever comes easy, and SEO is proof of that statement. So in short, yes: SEO is most definitely worth it!