In a world where everything changes minute-by-minute (sometimes quite literally), it’s difficult to know what’s worth the investment in your marketing plans. There are a lot of shiny objects out there today and most small businesses don’t have the budget to invest in all of them. So how does one cut through the muck and get to the good stuff?
Where I often see clients run into trouble is in the digital marketing world. Some business owners simply avoid it altogether because they find it intimidating. Others buy into every gimmick that the various marketing firms try to sell them on. It seems that everyone is getting into the world of social media and search engine optimization, but not everyone is qualified and experienced enough to write a good strategy for either.
Unfortunately, most small business owners don’t have the time, nor the manpower, to stay current on the latest digital marketing trends. Therefore, they must rely on the advice of their marketing agencies.
Digital marketing, and “new media” as we called it back when I first got into advertising, has been on a steady course of evolution for the last 15 years. We’re learning more about it every day, but it still, like most marketing efforts these days, requires a bit of trial and error to get things right. So here are a few pointers I’ve gathered over the years that should guide small businesses into smart, strategic thinking.
Why Doesn’t My Business Appear on Search Engine Results?
If you recently launched a new website (new URL, specifically) your website is not likely to show up at the top of the search engine results immediately. This is a process that can take several months depending on how competitive your industry is. No matter what size your budget, it’s important to develop a digital content strategy. Old school SEO plans still work in some cases, however, they are becoming less relevant, especially to small businesses in small to mid-sized markets. Consumers are moving away from directories and onto Google. They’re paying more attention to Google reviews and Facebook reviews to make their purchasing decisions. Make sure that you’re not spending your digital marketing budget on outdated techniques that can waste thousands of dollars each year.
How Can I improve My Rankings on Search Engines Like Google?
While businesses can hire someone to improve their SEO by updating the various online directories, there are more affordable ways to accomplish the same thing. This is where developing a content strategy comes into play. Much of your digital marketing success comes through creating a positive experience for the user. If visitors to your website can easily find the information they are searching for, they are much more likely to spend more time on your site and may even become a paying customer.
Make sure your website has high-quality content that your customers will find relevant.
This includes updating your website to be mobile-friendly. Did you know that over 50% of Google users are now accessing the site on their smartphones and tablets? If your site isn’t mobile-friendly you’re very likely to eliminate at least 50% of your potential audience.
A blog can go a long way to providing relevant content that your customers will find useful, as well as help Google understand what your business is all about.
Be sure to include relevant keywords in your posts and image titles, but don’t get too bogged down here. If you overstuff your posts with keywords Google will penalize you and that will hurt your website traffic. However, it’s smart to think of the longer phrases that people are likely searching for to find the information you are posting. We call these long-tail keywords. They are much more specific and will likely deliver better quality traffic to your blog or website.
And be sure to share your posts on your social media pages so that your customers will know that you’ve added something new that might interest them. (See below for information on how to get those posts noticed.)
If a blog post doesn’t work for your business or you are unable to keep it current, that’s okay.
There are other things you can do to make your site relevant. Consider implementing a pay-per-click campaign. PPC campaigns tend to generate more qualified leads than old school SEO practices. A PPC campaign allows you to determine who you want to see your ad. Make sure your website contains the information that your ad alludes to, otherwise your visitors will find your site unhelpful and that can lead to a lower ranking on Google, simply because your site lacks relevance.
Having a social media presence is a great way to improve your rankings on search engines, but it’s evolved into a pay to play environment.
No longer does a simple post get noticed on Facebook. Now businesses should plan to allocate a percentage of their marketing budget to social media sponsored ads and sponsored content. By 2018, it’s estimated that over 30% of the world’s population will be on social media. That’s a figure that can’t be ignored.
Increase your online reviews.
There are various ways to do this and if your marketing firm is skilled in creative problem solving they’ll be able to direct you to a few tactics to make this happen. Keep in mind, this, too, will take some time, but it’s worth the investment of your time and money to make this happen.
For more insight into ways to build a smart content strategy into your firm’s marketing plans give us a call or shoot us an e-mail.