Unless you’re a multinational corporation, there’s a good chance that your marketing budgets are going to be reasonably restrictive. This means that you can’t just throw money at every conceivable campaign and simply hope for the best.
Exposure is great, but getting seen by the right people, in the right places at the right time is so much better.
Therefore you have to be a little canny about what you spend your budget on. Unfortunately there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution either, so it’s up to you to identify what works and what doesn’t, targeting your efforts accordingly.
Search Engine Optimisation is free, or at least it is if you’re prepared to do all the work yourself and learn the techniques required to deliver the biggest benefits. Remember, some things will take more time than others and there is often a significant disparity in how effective things are likely to be.
So you have to be able to evaluate what is going to have the biggest impact now and in the future. On-page content will always have an impact on visitor-perception and search rankings, so churning out some decent copy to populate each page is a must. High quality links are well worth sourcing, but this can be done in partnership with PR and social activities. It’s not always easy to demand a link from a decent source, so you have to be able to serve up something in return.
Don’t get bogged down in activities that are likely to have little effect. For instance, just because everybody else appears to be trying to squeeze links out of Pinterest or Flickr, it doesn’t mean that you have to follow suit. SEO is becoming more of a natural process, particularly now that personalised and location-based factors are increasingly coming to the fore. This means you have to be cuter with how you market your site, which leads us nicely on to…
It’s been said a million times before in a million different ways, but social really is the future of online marketing. Google haven’t created Plus just for the sake of it. They are harvesting data, using it to improve their results and to create the personalised search results mentioned above.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you absolutely have to have a Google+ account, or even Facebook and Twitter, but it’s important that you try to maintain some kind of social presence. Even if you only have the time for a few tweets or messages a day, this kind of interaction is vital for maintaining visibility and awareness amongst your audience. You can promote your content (press releases, blog posts and feature articles), giving it a greater presence and funnelling more traffic to your pages. You can also interact with people who talk about your brand or products, quashing false rumours, quelling dissatisfaction and making a great experience better for repeat customers.
Social profiles form a key part of modern-day branding and they can provide a tangible benefit to businesses of all sizes and types. The amount you choose to use it is entirely dependent on your available resources and how effective it proves to be. Should you find a massive improvement in site traffic and conversions as a result, it would be well worth investing a little more of your marketing budget in managing your profiles. However, it isn’t for everybody, and so you will have to decide what you’re comfortable with and whether it works for your business.
The key benefit of having a strong social profile across a number of platforms is that it can prove to be a catalyst for other online marketing activities. So if you’re engaging in PR, SEO and content marketing, then you can use YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and whatever else you fancy to cross-promote it all. This can create a vortex effect, building visibility and boosting the presence of both your content and your social profiles.
Now this really is an optional form of marketing. However, in future, creating a strong individual and brand profile could prove to be pivotal. Therefore, getting your articles shown on authoritative blogs and sites with full accreditation (including rel=author tags) will prove to be hugely beneficial. This takes time to achieve though.
Unless you’re so well known that you’re flooded with offers from leading industry sites and other news sources, it can take time to find anyone who is willing to host your content. In time though, as your profile grows and people become more receptive to your requests, it should become much easier to get your content in the right places.
Again, the promise of a future dominated by contextual semantic search and personalised results makes it all the more important that you get your stuff out there now. As your profile grows, so too should your site traffic. But as this is a pursuit that is driven by the quality of content you produce, it is labour-intensive, meaning that it may be beyond the budgetary constraints of smaller companies. However, even if you can just do a little here and there, you should see some decent returns and offers coming in.
Avoid Fads and Unnecessary Risks
Finally, the lure of a quick buck has proven too strong for some. This has seen webmasters investing thousands in links that have since seen them booted off Google or have proven ineffective. Equally, there are plenty of scammers out there who want to charge you for creating an exclusive Google Places profile or something equally free and easy to do yourself. Nobody can guarantee you a top 10 position for all your primary keywords, so ignore anybody that claims otherwise.
Equally, as mentioned earlier, just because there’s a lot of noise about a particular product (Pinterest being a good example currently) it doesn’t mean that you need to jump in. Sure, they’re currently dishing out followed links and allowing individuals to share copyrighted material, but there’s no guarantee that this will continue – in fact it seems highly unlikely that it will. So if you have only a few short hours to promote your business online, spend them wisely. Write a great press release and distribute it to relevant publications or blogs or get your on-page copy up-to-date. Fads come and go, but quality content, links and promotions can deliver ongoing benefits for any site, regardless of what the future of search and social may bring.
Financial graphs and charts via BigStock