The phone books are a great analogy to use when talking about SEO, SEM, and discovery marketing.
For most of the last 10 years I have been working with small business owners. Even at IBM doing technology projects, I was teamed up with business owners, along with other stake holders.
In the ole days there was one yellow pages book delivered to the house; it was a monster big book. Of course, there was only the house phone, land line, in those days. Nowadays there are three or four yellow page books delivered to the door; they are all a lot smaller. Plus, there is no longer a land line in most homes today.
Pretty much every business owner understands the need for exposure in terms of marketing. Well, except for the occasional people I meet that are defiant and extremely proud to never have had a web site and/or never advertised. They make sure to tell me the number of years too - a real badge of courage for them I guess. Kudos to those folks, but the rest of us need marketing to collect some people who want to use our products or services.
What Does Online Marketing Take
Today, there are (free yellow pages) Google and Bing. Yes, there is Yahoo, but it's pretty much a duplicate of Bing at this point. If you have any business savy at all, you know you want to be on the first page of search results for people seeking your the type(s) of products(s) or service(s) you offer. All research points to the fact that people don't go past the first page of search results.
Besides the SEO/SEM that we are used to reading about, there is this emerging trend of discovery marketing, which, IMHO, is already in full swing but not to the masses - yet.
In realistic terms, from someone who works in this market every day - me, the notion is deeply implemented now that having a web site and/or blog is just common sense .... when you want to accomplish any serious level of business marketing. I thought we had passed that curve about five years ago but I really know we have today.
When I say web site and/or blog, I mean one of those, at a minimum, with your own domain name, which includes that it/they have some level of decent SEO, SEM built in.
IMHO, you can exclude any web site that is provided by a “free web site” provider. Why? Because 99% of those sites have zero SEO, SEM built into them, so they just fade into the billions of web pages already out there. Sadly, even most WordPress and BlogSpot sites are pretty useless in the search engines because the owner did a DIY job and just didn't build the content correctly for SEO or SEM.
The New Life Skill: Data Sharing
The bottom line is data sharing. Instead of marketing, call it data sharing. In this digital age, you must exercise some level of data sharing. Yes, it is all about you sharing your data with the world. Young people are much more adept at this because they are growing up with it. Older folks tend to be resistant, reluctant and full of excuses - instead of just doing it. They don't realize their inaction is a loss of beneficial exposure.
When you have decent SEO/SEM content then you naturally produce organic search results.
Organic search remains the leading way USA adults find online information and websites according to a Forrester Research survey.
Below are ten steps, a gold standard, to easily build your business web presence.
#1 Design and setup a strategy to convert web site visitors to subscribers.
#2 Every day, use at least one social marketing channel to distribute information about your products and services.
#3 Create your baseline measurements and record updates at least once weekly. This is easily done with a free account at Google Analytics.
#4 Position your marketing, aka data sharing, efforts around organic search results because they have longevity, lasting through each engine software (algorithm) modification. If you need a quick hit of business, do search engine PPC (pay per click) like Google AdWords, but remember - relying on PPC as a cornerstone of marketing proves expensive; it will not last without continued financing.
#5 Local marketing results in Google, aka Pigeon algorithm, will be changing as Google’s commitment to small business is growing. Make sure you have your site coded for your geographic area. Submit your Google and Business and produce a local business listing for free.
#6 Double check that your web site or blog is viewable on mobile devices (phones, ipads). Use a responsive* format for this. If a user has trouble navigating your site they will just move on to another one. Google has a great mobile friendly testing tool.
#7 The semantics of your content is top priority in building and formatting your site. Google is producing search results based on analyzing the intent of your site, which is a few steps above keyword and key phrase strategy. This is a MAJOR reason most web presences fail to achieve first page placement in search results. Semantics is not what they taught you in school about writing term papers.
#8 Use HTML5 tags to help Google understand what you are providing. Don't overdue 'em. Check out this tutorial on microdata to get started.
#9 Monitor the speed of your web site/blog. Google will penalize you if you have a slow response time.
#10 Build quality inbound links. Quality is better than quantity. An easy method for this is posting in social media and using a native link to your site or blog in your post content.
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