Most businesses need to be as active and present in as many places on the internet as possible in some way shape or form, but doing it the wrong way can hurt your business…especially financially.
The most direct form of “advertising” is making sure that you are showing up in the organic or natural listings (the maps and below the map) as high up and on as many search terms or phrases as possible. Out of the top 3 major search engines, Google Yahoo and Bing, Google has 65% of the usage although it may not be all in one area like you think, so segmenting your marketing campaign is important.
Search engine optimization can help you gain rankings, the problem is that you can do so many things that can get your site banned or mess your rankings up that unlike a few years ago, it takes either a lot of studying on your part, a stroke of luck , no competition, or you will need to hire a internet marketing company to help you. Google intentionally makes it difficult to rank high in this area and stay there, because they don’t make money from the natural listings. Inbound marketing, like blogs, and an active social media community are very strong indicators for gaining rankings in today’s landscape.
Another form of advertising on the major search engines, is in the sponsored ad area, also known as search engine marketing. These are the ads at the very top of your search and down the side. These have gained in popularity in the past of year for a couple of reasons. First because over 50% of the general public doesn’t realize the difference between the “natural” listings or the ads, probably in part due to the fact the shading is a lot lighter than it used to be but also in part because consumers today are looking for a special deal and if you attract their attention by your ad they will buy.
Although you can do this form of marketing yourself, you could blow thousands a month quickly just in the you local area by knowing just enough to be dangerous. Truth is Google did a phenomenal job making it seem super easy, but there is a reason that internet companies are certified. If you don’t understand things like “negative keywords”, click through rates and how it relates to the amount of exposure you get etc, you really are hindering your own success by managing it yourself. If you feel comfortable fixing a water main line break by looking it up on Youtube and then call yourself a plumber, then I guess you can give it a try.
The 3rd area to advertise on in search engine marketing is display advertising. You can spend a lot less for a lot more exposure, but if it’s not set up right and managed you can seemingly be getting lots of traffic with very little conversions. Part of the reason that people blow a lot of money is trying to do display advertising on Google partners etc, because it’s a bit less expensive but the true power of display advertising isn’t just throwing up a text ad. There are 2 primary ways to increase your conversions…limit your exposure to partner sites that at least you know if your potential client is on the site that they have a interest in, for instance home security, and they are located in your area, or the other successful way is to just have your ad appear on partner sites only if the client has already clicked on your website previously….essentially reminding them about your services and increasing your opportunity for conversion.
Fourth would be social media marketing. If you have organically built up quite a following on these forums, remember to respond to people, and keep it professional and polite. I have recently seen some of my clients get into a public argument with someone, and then block the person, or delete the unflattering posts. The problem is that it’s far better to deal with a client on Facebook than to worry about a bad review on Google!
Social media marketing also has a creative marketing side. Remember when you filled out your profile with your birthday, special interests etc? All of that info enables you to have a pretty targeted marketing program. My husband for instance, put in his profile that he likes motorcycles….so what does he get as ads served up? Motorcycle related ads. If you recently changed your status to engaged, you would start getting bridal jewelry ads (if you’re a woman), florist ads etc.
For most businesses, focusing on marketing on the major search engines is your best bang for your buck….but if you have a visual business (like a beauty salon, advertising specialty company etc.) marketing equally on the social sites is just as important in the total scheme of things.