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Unfortunately not all websites are owned by companies with endless resources and a bottomless pit of money. Most in fact have tight restrictions when it comes to both time and finances. However all sites share a common desire, which is to be the most successful in their field, regardless of the strength of their competition.
To get to the top with limited resources, particularly for SMEs, is no easy task. It requires an acute understanding of your market and effective management of your priorities. Many businesses see SEO as a cure, others have heard about the emerging success stories emanating from social media, whilst some believe that Paid Search (PPC) will get them the targeted traffic they need. There’s plenty of evidence to support all of these viewpoints, but which will work best for you?
To do anything effectively you need to give it the focus it deserves. If you try to juggle too many different strands of Internet marketing you could end up with a disparate campaign that doesn’t convert. To successfully implement SEO takes time, as does building a social media presence and you could find yourself throwing good money after bad with an underperforming PPC campaign. This is why understanding your market and identifying your key marketing approach is so important.
Social media is the newest and as such the least proven of the three major website marketing methods. Using sites such as Twitter and Facebook companies have been able to communicate directly with customers, clients and other interested parties within their industry. This has provided a more direct and human element to online marketing, but the results are often variable and will be largely dependent on how well you convey your message and how large your audience is. Far from guaranteed success, but social media can be hugely beneficial.
Pay per Click advertising requires effective management to be successful. Return on Investment (ROI) is critical, which means that you have to work hard to reduce irrelevant impressions on your adverts and subsequently prevent erroneous clicks. Knowing which keywords to target [see: What is PPC Advertising?] and removing any unrelated negative keywords could help you to make your budget go further and ensure that you are targeting the most optimal phrases.
There is much that can go wrong with PPC if it is untended to and allowed to simply go feral. You can lose money and attract traffic that has little or no interest in what you have to offer. Paid search is all about focus, if you don’t have the knowledge or expertise in house to do this work then outsourcing might be your only option. Expert pay per click management will help you to track the progress of your various campaigns and ensure that they don’t grow out of control.
Search Engine Optimisation
Finally there’s SEO. As long as there have been search engines, there have been websites trying to get to the top of them. Google is the most popularly used website in the world, channelling millions of its users to various sites each and every day. Therefore there is a lot of weight given to being at the summit of their rankings; but of course this is no easy task.
Effective SEO can take time to take full effect. SEO itself is an extremely broad set of processes that work together to improve a websites visibility on search engines. This includes everything from link building and content to Meta descriptions and Title tags. Developing these individual facets is no easy task and can take some time (and patience) to master. There are no guaranteed results either, but all ethical SEO work will help your website become stronger and improve rankings across various phrases.
Prioritising your Online Marketing Campaigns
So how should you prioritise your marketing? Well, SEO remains something of a proven pathway to gaining targeted traffic over the long-term. That said, PPC offers an element of immediacy that SEO can’t match, it will help promote your brand and can also bring in the same highly targeted traffic. However it will cost you money, the amount will be determined by your predetermined budget. Social media is completely free, but it will take time to build a reputation – something which is essential if you are going to use this as your primary marketing source.
For long-term gains, SEO is without compare. Social media is very much like a word of mouth campaign and has been successful for trendy brands with an active consumer base, but it isn’t for everybody. PPC is highly effective, but to do it right you have to invest plenty of time optimising your ads to ensure that the text, keywords and landing pages are all up to scratch.
Outsource if you need to. Whilst initial expenditure could be daunting, particularly if you are already forking out for PPC adverts, it is an investment in your future online business. Benefit from someone else’s expertise rather than having to recruit new staff or invest in internal training. It needn’t break your budget and could ultimately prove invaluable in ensuring the reduction of wastage whilst increasing targeted traffic.
So to prioritise your website marketing you have to determine how fast you want results, how much you’re willing to invest and how consumers are likely to search for you. However you choose to market your website you need to have the courage of your convictions and ensure that you focus your efforts where they are needed on one or perhaps two different strands. When your website expands so too can your marketing efforts, but avoid spreading your resources too thin from the outset.
Samantha Noble is well known within in the search industry, she even won the UK Search Personality 2016 at the UK Search Awards in November. This year, she continues to make an impact on the industry by judging not only one, but three, prestigious industry awards.