By now, every business owner knows you need to be present on the internet if you want your business to succeed and attract as much of your target audience and potential clients as possible.
Gone are the days when you could just hope to avoid the whole online aspect and focus exclusively on offline marketing strategies and methods. Today, when people can reach you not only through their computers, but through their tablets and smartphones as well, a well planned online marketing strategy is no longer an optional afterthought, it's a necessity.
However, adequately showcasing your business on the internet is far from easy. Once you've decided that you want to present your business online and connect to your internet audience, an entire labyrinth of choices opens up before you. Should you write a blog, record podcasts or produce videos? Do you promote on Facebook, Twitter or Youtube? Should you pay attention to and spend some resources on up-and-coming social networks before your competition does? All those different options require different skills and approaches. Understanding, let alone mastering them is getting harder by the day and is not really an option anymore for business owners, who already have busy schedules. Up to a couple of years ago, you could have managed the most important online marketing channels by yourself if you were ambitious enough, but the bar keeps rising and it's nearly impossible to do this today, unless you're planning to turn it into a full time job.
Such a situation leaves business owners with many questions without clear answers, as different businesses have potential clients spread out in many different places. Luckily, one marketing channel has stayed consistently reliable throughout the years and is still the single most important piece in the online marketing puzzle. If you could only do one thing and one thing alone to market your business online, the choice would be easy - make it rank high in the search engine results for your chosen keywords.
While people will follow their friends recommendations and get interested in a subject after discussing it on Facebook or watching a good Youtube video, everybody eventually ends up on Google, typing up searches and expecting to find quality results on top of the engine's search results. And this is where SEO (search engine optimisation) shines, because its main purpose is getting your site listed among those top search results and making sure that people searching for services or products you offer will find you before they find your competitors.
To better illustrate the usefulness and value of SEO as a way of getting clients and customers online, let's compare it to two popular alternatives and see how it fares against PPC (pay per click) advertising and popular social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
SEO vs. PPC
As the name implies, pay per click advertising revolves around the concept of paying for clicks as a way of getting people to visit your site. You get to choose the terms and keywords you are interested in and, depending on the amount of competition targeting those same keywords and numerous other factors, your ads are displayed on appropriate pages related to those chosen keywords.
PPC is a great tool for getting quick results, promoting special, time sensitive offers and testing the waters, but its long term effectiveness fades in comparison to SEO for a single, obvious reason - you have to pay for each and every visitor that clicks on one of your ads. Once you stop paying, your ads are no longer shown so relying on PPC for long term results can quickly become a rather expensive strategy.
SEO might put some other challenges in front of you, but paying for individual clicks won't be one of them. It will cost money to put it in motion and it will take some time to get it going, but once an SEO campaign is successfully finished, it will start bringing you visitors and potential customers without any additional mandatory costs or efforts on your side.
SEO vs. Social media
Social media is constantly gaining popularity as a respectable marketing tool and with good reasons - you get to communicate with your customers and audience in a more direct, intimate way than ever before. However, it's biggest advantage is also its biggest drawback, as successful social media channels demand your attention practically 24/7. Satisfied customers want to talk to you, unhappy customers want immediate answers to their specific issues and all of them expect constant interaction and a steady stream of fresh content. In order to manage your social media properly, you have to devote a significant amount of your time and resources to it, diverting your focus and energy from actually running your business.
SEO, on the other hand, functions differently and a successful SEO campaign will secure your position in the search engine listings, therefore bringing you new visitors without requiring your constant attention or activity. If your involvement in your social media channels stops or drops in quality, they will become less effective. If you execute a successful SEO campaign, it will continue to bring you results for months or sometimes even years to come even without your additional involvement.
Therefore, while the best and most effective online marketing strategies are rarely focused on a single approach, utilising all the mentioned channels and methods instead, professionally executed SEO campaigns remain the main and most widely praised ingredient on the road to online marketing success.
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