We began our first internet business in 1994, so we are celebrating our 20 years of internet business this year. There are not many people who have been doing internet marketing for that long. There is no question that doing business on the internet has changed a truck load over the past two decades. In the good old days of the 90’s (remember Alta Vista and Netscape?), you could fill out a form on a search engine and within a day or two your website had rankings. Then came Google (1998) and search became serious business.
Search Engine Optimisation (the art of ranking a web page in search engine for a particular key word phrase) had a golden decade during the 2000’s. It was super easy to get a site ranked for its main keyword phrases. Sure Google made algorithm changes but they were little tweaks rather than monumental shifts. As competition increased, Google’s job of ranking every page that mentioned every keyword phrase became exponentially more difficult. Software was being used to auto-generate search engine rankings by spitting out rubbish content containing lots of keywords with a link back to a web page. It was turning the internet into a giant pile of garbage.
In 2011. Google released a massive algorithm update called “Panda” designed to eradicate low quality “content farms”. In April 2012, Google launched another missive with “Penguin” that attacked web spam such as keyword stuffing. Overnight, many websites lost all their traffic and businesses collapsed in a screaming heap. These two changes (and there have been many more since) have led to some people arguing that SEO is dead. Whether that is true or not, there is no doubt that SEO is now a very difficult, time consuming and expensive game. It can still be worthwhile (because there is plenty of traffic to be had) but it will not deliver quick results and it is always possible that it may not deliver any results at all.
That’s a depressing tale for the small business owner looking for cost effective internet marketing. What are the alternatives? Surely its not back to the Yellow Pages is it? Heck no! Here are some other options.
In our view, the best value and most effective internet marketing strategy for most businesses is Pay Per Click advertising. PPC is performance based advertising – so you only pay when it works. When someone clicks on your ad, you pay the amount you are willing to pay. The more you pay, the better position your ad will be given and the more traffic you get. The ROI from PPC can be huge, but it all depends on the numbers for your business and how competitive the market is. Not to brag or anything (OK – so we are bragging a bit), but we absolutely rock at PPC marketing. Our PPC Manager used to work for Google which makes him a certified genius at PPC. Read more about our PPC Campaign Management services.
Local marketing can be incredibly effective for local businesses (e.g. a plumber or hairdresser serving the Adelaide market). Local marketing will help your business appear when someone searches for say a “plumber” and the search engine detects that they are in Adelaide OR when someone searches for keywords like “plumber Adelaide”. Strategies for local optimisation include things like Google Places listing, directory listings and Google Local business pages. If your business caters to a local market, then check out our local marketing service.
The past 5 years has seen the rise of Social Media Marketing (SMM). Not surprising given the social media services dominate the internet (think Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and Google+). The nature of your business will dictate which social media platforms will work best for you. For example, if you sell children’s clothing then Facebook and Pinterest are probably the best options. If you are a legal firm, then it is likely to be LinkedIn and Twitter. If you are a hairdresser, then it could be Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. If you sell skateboards then YouTube, Instagram and Facebook are where your peeps are. Oh, and every business should have a Google+ Business page. Why? ‘Cause its Google! SMM needs a very targeted, clear and well designed strategy. Otherwise you can end up tipping a bucket of time and/or money into an endless pit without delivering traffic or conversions (i.e. leads or sales). To learn more about whether SMM could work for your business, read our social media marketing analysis.
There is no question that one of the best internet marketing strategies for your business is content creation. Creating interesting, unique, helpful, funny and/or insightful content will attract and engage visitors and build your brand. It will also demonstrate to the search engines that your business is credible and has valuable content that people like. And at the end of the day, that’s what makes the internet for round; content that people want to consume. Videos. Images. Podcasts. Vodcasts. Blog posts. PowerPoint presentations (SlideShare anyone?). Infographics. Memes. Reviews. Lists. eBooks. Research etc etc. Almost any business can generate content as they conduct their daily activities (e.g. a removalist might take photos of the best organised houses waiting for them when they arrive to the worst organised houses; a plumber might take photos of the most disgusting bathrooms; a hairdresser might photograph before and after shots of clients; an ecommerce store selling bags might photograph all the gear you can get into a bag (though video might work better for that one). Content creation doesn’t have to be onerous, but it must be of reasonable quality and consistently produced. If you would like to pick our brains about what content you could create to help your business get traffic, call 1300.656.902 or fill out an enquiry form. There’s nothing we like better than a good brain picking session.