What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization is a marketing tool used to promote your website. Traditionally, SEO could be broken down to 2 parts – organic SEO and paid SEO.
Organic SEO refers to the non-sponsored search results – the organic search engine results pages that rank your website’s content, structure and relevance against the search query (the search query being the keyword phrase typed into the search box).
Paid SEO is the sponsored search results, more clearly indicate at Google, for example, by the boxed top and right sections. These are advertising spaces that you pay for, through paid SEO, which is more commonly Search Engine Marketing.
Through Search Engine Marketing, such as Google’s AdWords program, you can:
- run advertising campaigns in text, graphic or video mediums;
- build a relevant keyword list, set a bid for each keyword (because search marketing is an auction), and select your target market by geographic location and/or other demographic such as age range;
- run your ads on the search engine results pages, other Google properties, such as YouTube, or other website that are not Google properties, but participate in their Display Network through AdSense.
Your paid SEO campaigns are designed around a purpose, much like any other marketing plan or advertising campaign – you set your ad schedule and your budget, or you can build your brand by increased exposure. For most small businesses, a regular monthly advertising campaign can bring new visits and increase sales using a pay-per-click model. But for new businesses, industry leaders, innovators or new business goals and products, the pay-per-impression campaign model will produce the brand exposure goal of the advertising campaign, which should align with organic search engine optimization goals, and be accompanied by other traditional and innovative marketing techniques.
- increasing and modifying website content and markup to match or exceed the leading competitions efforts,
- build online credibility through a vertical SEO campaign,
- increase website exposure with a local search campaign and
- implement monitoring tools to measure your campaign’s success.
It might sound easy, but businesses have built entire marketing divisions to fulfill these requirements and employ information technology personnel to ensure that their website technology makes the marketing campaign possible. This view of large corporations structure, status and success leads to the argument that marketing should be managed by advertising/marketing professionals and website technology should be handled by technology professionals, which has already been covered by countless blog entries and the ensuing and unending opinionated comments.
Attempting an organic SEO campaign on your own can be done, provided you have the knowledge, dedication and capability to perform the work and understand the results because organic SEO doesn’t cost anything but your $time, $patience and sometimes $frustration. Often small business owners are frustrated and dissatisfied because SEO is an entirely separate business from their own.
Business owners should be available to run their business and be professionals in their industry, investing their time and efforts in other integral parts of their business that others cannot do. Additionally, if the business runs it self well, business owners can be responsible for building a following and building credibility through advisement, consulting, customer support, becoming a resource in a forum, managing social updates, feeds and website or blog content.
As the business owner, you know more about your company, industry and services than anyone – make sure your company’s marketing goals align with business goals by sharing information and generating ideas with your small businesses services’ teams and representatives.
Social media marketing is a method for promoting your business and connecting with customers on their terms through social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and the Google + network. Each platform’s functionality may affect your social media marketing strategy differently but each will require long-term dedication.
Facebook is still the top social media platform with more than 750 million active users (30% of users are in the U.S.) – 50% of those users log on every day. The average user has 130 friends with 80 connections to community pages, groups and events and creates 90 pieces of content each month. There are more than 30 billion pieces of content shared monthly.
What this means for you: each average user that shares your content or connects to your page shares it with 130 people. Of each of those average users that share your content or connect to your page, shares it with 130 people. There are phenomenal success stories for businesses that connect with Facebook. However, such a campaign requires long-term dedication – perhaps an hour a day, five days a week, in the afternoon and early evening hours.
For example, when you connect your website to Facebook through social plugins, it makes it easy for a Facebook user to like a piece of content on your site when they come across it and find it helpful, inspiring or informative.
- Don’t rely on users alone to share your content. Create a Facebook page, invite friends to like your page, provide additional interactive tools as incentive for liking your page and provide regular shares, content and other interaction at peak traffic hours to ensure your Facebook friends see your posts in their news feeds.
- You don’t always have to write an article a day. Find other valuable content that you can share through your business page, which still encourages interaction.
- Your Facebook page is your business’s social front and serves as another customer service medium.
- You can authorize other people specific access to your business Facebook page to assist with maintaining customer contacts as well as providing content updates or posts on the marketing and interaction tasks.
- It is very important in today’s world of instant gratification to respond as immediately and often as possible. This is another part of the long-term investment, but with practice, checking and responding can become a part of your regular business activity, such as checking email.
- In order to create a Facebook business page, you need to have an individual Facebook account.
Your Facebook business page and marketing strategy can increase traffic and sales, build relationships and customer loyalty and amplify your marketing messages. It can be used to create an ecosystem of complementary businesses, services and information. Now that you have an introduction to social media marketing, read more about building and measuring a marketing campaign.
Many guides will suggest for consumer businesses to budget 15% of revenue to online marketing, and for B2B to budget 5% of revenue, which is a good starting point, however, for B2B, I beg to differ. For B2C, this is a good starting point to set a monthly budget based on your target market and industry. Network Solutions has a beautiful Marketing Calculator that will give you a good idea of where to invest depending upon whether you want to get leads fast or invest in long-term results.
For small businesses, it is important to diversify your investment and recommendations should be based on current market competitiveness. Online marketing calculators can give you a good idea of what you should investigate in terms of service quotes and discussion with your marketing servicer. They’ll be able to provide services to meet your budget and objective, within reason. You can’t win a race if you don’t have an equivalent investment in the vehicle performance. If you find you have big-time competition, it will be a struggle.
The online marketing calculators may suggest the following options:
- E-mail marketing
- Social/Content Marketing
Depending upon your industry, these options and the amount of investment will vary, but the following rules will apply: for long-term ROI, invest in SEO; for instant gratification, invest in PPC; to develop customer loyalty, invest in social; for online reputation management, invest in local; to maintain customer relationships, invest in email. Many of these services will go hand-in-hand, for example, your email marketing should include social content, your local marketing is usually a part of organic SEO (here at MWC), your content marketing is a natural next-step up from SEO.
We can help you assess your business goals and build a marketing campaign around your budget, contact us to discuss your business growth.
How do you gain repeat customers? You build customer loyalty through customer satisfaction by exceeding customers’ expectations. Happy customers are more likely to buy more, buy repeatedly, and lead to more customers through referrals.
You can take simple steps to building customer loyalty by keeping in touch, following up and building a reward system. It is also important to note that when you really care, it shows. Here are some great ideas for building customer loyalty:
- Build a referral system, by issuing a discount to the referring customer, or giving them a free service for multiple referrals
- Send out thank you notes, birthday cards or customer anniversary cards to let them know they are appreciated – include lottery tickets, scratch offs or other call to action
- Use social media to communicate current promotions and keep your company name on their social radar
- Send out email newsletters to educate, inspire and call your customers to action
- Gather feedback and respond promptly through comment cards, online reputation management and social media
Many business to business and some business to consumer online marketing plans falter, they miss the mark because they’re missing steps. First, to gather a following, you must have something to follow – worthwhile content, fresh ideas and deals for your social consumers. If you already have an engaging website that is bringing in new clients, and has a steady flow of return visits, you can assess your valuable content and start to build your social marketing strategy. Next, you should determine whether your target audience can be drawn in by online social engagements. Small businesses should move to social media marketing when their client base exists there – if you don’t build your contacts in interactive environments, chances are your social marketing campaign will be difficult to produce fruit. When you have determined that your industry can significantly benefit from the move to social media, it is then important to determine your plan based on your marketing goals. having a few simple goals to start with are sufficient, such as, I’d like to gain 250 fans by the end of the year, or I’d like to improve customer service by offering instant contact through our facebook page. Know what your customers are talking about, and the language that they are using, for example, would they look for services in ‘great landscaping’ or would they want their home to have better ‘curb appeal’? The most successful marketing campaigns have a Vision, are driven by Passion, have an existing Brand with complementary Marketing, and continually engage their customers. When you are passionate about your business, your customers and your industry, then it should be a breeze to create daily connections via your social media marketing campaign. The Social Media Examiner offers these 6 get started steps:
- Objective: be clear on your primary focus, such as prioritized objectives, and establish an editorial guide (will you have a self-promo day for your followers, or delete every self-promotional post?)
- Design Strategy: ensure your facebook page offers supporting functionality, for example, to grow your email newsletter list, offer a newsletter sign up
- Content Strategy: have a mixture of content types and set a schedule for updating, including OPC (other people’s content) that is relevant and interesting to your audience
- Promotion Stragegy: if you build it, they will come… is not a promotion strategy – it doesn’t work for your website, and it won’t work for your Facebook page.Add social plugins to your website, invite your email base, include a link to your Facebook page in your email signature – advertise and link.
- Engagement Strategy: be prompt and personal – Offer interactive contests where possible, offer rewards, ask questions, create polls, and look at what others are doing that generates activity.
Conversion Strategy: get your fans to become clients where possible – advertise any specials you have for new orders or seasonal services, and monitor your Facebook Insights