Web Marketing – Choosing The Right Strategy

 In The NetSearch Blog
Last week we talked about getting started with digital marketing, setting some personal goals, and some things you can do to get some baseline data about your current online visibility. This week serves as a direct follow-up to that, so if you missed last week’s blog you might want to read through that one first. Now that you have some info handy about your business and have collected some baseline data about your online visibility, you’ll want to explore some different options you have for advertising online. There are lots different ways to approach web marketing, and it’s likely you’ll be interested in combining a couple of them. Let’s explore some common web marketing strategies below.

A New Website

A new website can do a lot of good for a business, but it’s important that it be set up properly – with ways to capture your visitor’s information so you can get new leads and tracking so you can see which ones convert. It’s also important that it can be readily found by your target audience – after all, having a great looking site is pretty pointless if no one can find it.

Let’s take a step back though – do you already have a website for your business? If not, you’re gonna need one! Every legitimate business should have a functional and clean website in place if they’re thinking about advertising on the web. Whether it’s a landing page, a WordPress site done with a template, or a completely custom site – you’ll need a clean and presentable website to direct your traffic to.

If you already have a website, you’ll need to take an honest look at it and make sure it’s up to snuff. Does it look as good as your competitors’ websites? Does it have all the information you need on it? Is it functional and up to date? Does it look good on all devices, from desktop computers to smart phones? According to a report by Reuters, 75% of all internet use will be conducted on a mobile device in 2017. Google has found that 61% of people are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble viewing, and even worse – 40% will go to one of your competitor’s sites instead. It’s pretty clear – having a mobile-friendly, responsive website is no longer an option – it’s a requirement.

It’s also important that your website does what you need it to do. Is all the information on your site listed consistently and up to date? Is your number displayed somewhere prominently? Do you have a way for your leads to contact you via a web form or chat box? Is there tracking on your site so you can see how visitors interact with it, and more importantly – which leads convert to real sales? If not, it might be time for an upgrade. If you want to successfully advertise your business online, you’ll probably want to make sure all of this is in order before you spend money on other services.

Search Engine Optimization

Regardless of what you’ve heard, SEO is alive and well in 2017 – it’s just changed over time. Google’s newer algorithms can make sense of words on a page, meaning they can understand user intent, as well as provide search results based on things like browsing history or a person’s physical location. Because of this, it’s important to optimize for local results, and make sure you’re utilizing all of Google’s various services like Maps and MyBusiness listings. Google updates their services constantly, and websites should be optimized to take advantage of the new features they roll out. This means a good SEO will always be switching up their strategies to stay relevant and on top of your competition.

Unfortunately, we occasionally run into people that have previously paid for SEO services that didn’t generate a whole lot of results. This is usually because their previous service provider wasn’t keeping up to date with current practices, or just plain taking advantage of them. SEO is constantly evolving – the days of stuffing a page full of keywords and getting questionable backlinks is long gone, and those types of tactics just won’t work anymore. In fact, they can even hurt your ranking if it’s obvious that you’re trying to manipulate search rankings. However, you really shouldn’t write off SEO – even if you’ve been burned in the past. You’ll want to make sure you’re utilizing it to promote your site to start ranking in search results organically. Good SEO can take time, but if it’s taken care of responsibly by an expert, it can be a powerful strategy for getting new business.

You’ll also want a way to measure the effectiveness of your SEO strategy. At a minimum, Google Analytics should be installed in your site to get data on how your web visitors interact with it. There is a lot of other tracking software available that can provide more information about things like keyword performance and how you compare with your competitors. A good SEO will provide you with a monthly report that shows you your recent rankings and search volumes for your tracked keywords. You should also be able to see new sites and business directories your site gets listed in, as well as sites that link back to yours.

Pay Per Click Ads

Simply put, a PPC campaign that is set up correctly is the fastest and most consistent way to drive qualified traffic to your website. Pay per click campaigns can be utilized to not only target different search terms, but to only show up to people based on things like their location, the time of day, and whether or not they fit a certain demographic. This means that as long as your campaigns are set up proficiently and you have a realistic budget, you can start pushing qualified traffic to your site pretty quickly. Let’s review a few things you should know about paid ad campaigns below.

In Google Google Ads, a couple factors determine how often your ads are displayed and how much each click will cost. The cost per click (CPC) is determined by the quality score of both your keywords and your ads themselves. Your quality score is based on several factors, like your click through rate (CTR), the relevance of each keyword to it’s ad group, how relevant the text is in your ads, and even the quality and relevance of the landing page your ads are pointed to. This means that if you have poorly written ads or a bad website, the cost of your ads will be more expensive than they would be for someone with more relevant copy. This is why it’s important to consider a holistic approach to web marketing – different components and approaches will not only get you traffic in different ways, but they’ll also be mutually beneficial. Having a good website can actually make your click costs cheaper!

If paid traffic is sounding pretty good, you’ll want to figure out a realistic budget for your ad campaigns. This might seem complicated, but it’s easy if you’re working with someone who knows what they’re doing. A Certified Google Ads Specialist will be able to inform you about the potential cost of your ads based on their search volume, competition, and Google’s suggested bids.

If you pursue pay per click and have an active campaign running, you can get a lot more information about how your ads are performing. Once you have a campaign set up, you can see how often your ads are displaying in comparison to your competitors by determining your impression share. To determine your impression share, you’ll need to divide the total number of impressions an ad received by the estimated amount of impressions an ad is eligible for.

Impression Share = Total Impressions / Estimated Impressions Your Campaign Is Eligible To Receive

Google bases your eligibility on how much you’re willing to spend on a click, where and to whom your ads are targeted, and the overall quality score of your ad campaign. Knowing your impression share will give you a realistic idea of how often your ads currently display in comparison to others in your market, and how many more people you could reach if you choose to increase your budget. This way, you can make a more informed decision about how much you’re willing to spend each month on your campaigns.

Directory Building and Local Listing Optimization

It can be a real chore to make sure your website is not only listed, but listed consistently on popular websites and business directories. If you’re trying to get your business’s name out on the web, you’ll probably think of a handful of popular websites to list with like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, Google+, and FourSquare. This is a great first step, but if you don’t look beyond that, you’re leaving a lot of opportunities for additional exposure on the table.

It’d be great if your website always came up when people are searching for your product. However, getting that to happen consistently is easier said than done. That’s why having a business or directory listing pop up instead isn’t a bad second prize. Most of these types of listings will show your business’s name, number, location, service types and areas, and will often include a link to your site. Ensuring your information is consistent and up to date on these websites and directories can have a lot of impact on your page ranking and overall web visibility. This type of strategy will benefit most business owners, but it will benefit you even more if you’re focused on showing up in local search results. Appearing in these types of sites will give you an edge over your local competition, and the more visible you are, the more likely you are to get customers reaching out to you.

Social Media

Social media is in high demand right now, but how effective it will be is largely dependent on the type of business you have. While SEO and PPC will benefit most anyone, and directory building and local listing optimization will benefit those in the service industry and businesses focused on local search, social media can be kind of hit or miss. In fact, with the exception of people that have web stores, I’ll say that most business owners should only look at investing in social media after they’ve seen positive results from the other types of web marketing strategies listed above.

Why? Because in order to see results, social media can become time consuming – and if you don’t have the time to do it yourself, you’ll need to pay someone else to update your pages, create and promote new content, and engage your audience. Even then, it might not be worth the money involved unless you already have a large amount of people that follow you on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. In order to reach a larger audience, you’ll need to pay for sponsored results, which are essentially paid ads that display on their respective platforms. Like Google Ads, these can be targeted to different groups in any number of ways, but the key difference here is that pay per click ads display to people that are already searching for your product or service. Ads on social media will just show up in someone’s feed. This means they’re often much cheaper, but don’t necessarily drive the same type of traffic to your site that traditional pay per click ads will. In this way, they’re more like display or remarketing ads, and you might see less of a return on investment with this type of web marketing strategy. That said, social media has it’s place and can be extremely beneficial for other types of businesses. If you have a web store, or your products are geared towards a niche interest, social media can be really effective.

For example, let’s say you have a web store that sells classic horror movie t-shirts. If your ad is good and you target the right type of demographic, you could absolutely get some “impulse” buys from people seeing your ad in their social media feeds. This type of advertising can work for things like merchandise in a web store, an upcoming event or concert, or even a restaurant if you’re targeting a very specific location. This type of strategy is less effective for someone that owns a tire shop or carpet cleaning business – because these types of purchases have a longer buying cycle and are less impulsive purchases. If your business is in the latter category, you’re probably better off managing your own social media and investing more elsewhere.

Other Strategies

We’ve really only looked at the tip of the iceberg here (well, maybe like a third of the iceberg). There are plenty of other strategies that you can explore to drive traffic to a site and drum up new sales. However, what’s listed above will be most beneficial to the average business owner. There is a lot of crossover and granularity in each of the above strategies, with different methodologies, product types, and levels of service coming into play.

For example, Google Ads offers more than just PPC ads. You can also run display ads, remarketing ads, and pre-roll video on the platform. Beyond Google, there are other advertising networks that run ads natively on popular websites and news publications. Popular social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn offer opportunities for sponsored content. Or you could approach web marketing in a different way altogether, and look at content marketing as an advertising strategy. There is native content – which are paid ads that are made to look like unpaid content in a blog or review site. There’s also influencer content – or getting a popular thought-leader or web celebrity to endorse your product online. Or you could try and hit it big with some viral content, which is an entertaining video or public stunt meant to drum up interest in a brand.

It’s a safe bet that every advertising tactic ever attempted via traditional means has been reinvented and extrapolated on in the world of web marketing. There’s tons to explore, but sticking to the primary methods listed above is where you should start.

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