Online marketing is about content – Everything is content, and content is everything.
It is most certainly not our intention to provide you with a bunch of content, which may mean nothing to you or, in which you have no real interest. It is however our intention to summarize what is involved in developing, building, and maintaining an online marketing strategy. Why? You may ask. Regardless of our own view of the internet, it is moving at a pace that even internet professionals are struggling to keep up. The absence of an online marketing strategy may not be noticed today. It will not be long however, before an online marketing strategy is the only strategy you will be thinking of.
Having ourselves once been overwhelmed by the vexing presentations of practitioners using a multitude of terms and acronyms, we get the point at which many business owners decide to avoid tackling this critical business tool.
5 Online Marketing Principles
There are several web based disciplines which need to be understood, implemented and maintained. And we cannot stress enough, that there is no ‘quick fix’ for organic website growth, and naturally paid for marketing is an option, but is seldom an option for most small businesses.
To most entrepreneurs, these may appear to be intuitive, but it is surprising to note just how many forget to get the basics right.
1. ADD VALUE, unless you are adding value to your customer, why would they buy from you as opposed to your competitor. Know what this value is, and be able to articulate this value.
2. BE UNIQUE, search engines (SE’s) are always looking for unique content, plagiarizing content is the quickest way to land in SE’s naughty corner.
3. CREATE TRUST, not enough can be said about the need to build trust in SE’s much like you would in your social media audience.
4. DELIVER RELEVANCE, SE’s have developed sophisticated tools to assist the user in delivering the most relevant content to the user. Relevancy has become the number 1 objective of SE’s; quality content is inextricably linked to relevancy.
5. EARN EXCELLENCE, this happens over time as relevant content is delivered regularly.
Short Cut to effective Online Marketing
For purposes of this article, there is no short cut. There are ‘black hat’ techniques, which include link purchasing, most of which are quickly identified by Google and others, and all of which will get you into the ‘naughty corner’. This penalty is high, and it is often quicker to start over. Pay per click (PPC) is often employed, but remains costly in what is a highly competitive environment. PPC’s are occasionally successful, but only for the duration of the campaign. Organic growth takes time, and a considerable amount of your time and effort, which we acknowledge also has a cost attached to it.
Online Marketing – Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
There are two types of SEO; on page and off page optimization. SE’s will recognize well optimized pages and, will penalize over optimized pages (keyword stuffing)
On page optimization considers a number of technical and content related indicators. Content must be; unique, well written (grammatically correct with no spelling mistakes), natural and easy to read (Flesch Reading Test). Keyword density, style and distribution is extremely important, and lastly; key word choice (there is little value in optimizing for a keyword which is widely used)
Off page optimization is the work that is done to market the content which you have on your domain, and this includes leveraging from sites which have a high domain authority (google+, facebook, linkedin, twitter, youtube, fileshare.com etc) And building link traffic to your domain. It is critical to remember that SE’s penalize duplicate content, even if it is your own content, and as such authority domain marketing should be practiced in such a way that you do not inadvertently penalize yourself.
Online Marketing – Page Rank vs Domain Authority
Page ranking is becoming a less important search criteria and is a measure of the number of verified incoming links to your domain (referrals) Google is relying less and less on this measure and is only updating this twice a year. It does not however penalize nor advance ranked pages.
Domain authority as a measure is now far more important than page ranking, and uses a wider set of metrics, which are;
1. Number and quality of inbound links.
2. Number and quality of outbound links.
3. Domain ownership information. (do you own 20-30 sites for the purposes of creating back links)
4. Domain age.
5. Link diversity.
6. Page rank.
7. Traffic distribution. (over time)
8. Traffic activity. (number of new vs return visitors, page views etc)
9. Hardware and software characteristics (server response times etc)
Online Marketing – Social Media
A highly relevant medium to building trust in the eyes of SE’s. This is an art form, and there is a fine line between over and under doing things. So the underlying principle must always be adding value and, in the process, subtly weaving in your sales message. Just like SE’s will take time to build trust in your business, so your social media audience will take time to do the same. Most social media platforms have extremely high domain authority, and as such marketing you content on these platforms will provide important online weight to your own domain authority.
Chances are, yes. And if there is anything to be taken out of this message, and before anything else it is;
1. Online marketing is time consuming, and takes time to return improvements in your domain authority.
2. The technicalities of where and how are almost insignificant when compared to the absolute need to develop quality content.
3. Adding value to your audience through relevance, and consistency cannot be underestimated.
4. There are number of skills and disciplines which need to be developed and honed, not just one or two switches which we can turn on and off at will.
5. There is not much else that keeps such a close eye and history of your online activity like SE’s do. Everything you do must be premised on the 5 principles mentioned earlier. One red flag can undo a considerable amount of work.
Where to from here with your online strategy
We assume that your approach, like many other business owners, is somewhat cautious and uncertain in respect of deliverables. It is the latter which is relatively easy to measure, but does take time.
The process of developing your online presence is not unlike building a house, initially a great deal of your, and your service providers efforts will be below the radar, so to speak. To continue the metaphor; as the walls come out of the ground, progress is noticeable, and finally the finishes take a great deal longer and, often go by unnoticed.
Naturally it would be ideal to invest in the set-up phase in order to establish the framework which can be populated over time.
Online marketing requires a set of skills and disciplines which will become critical, if they are not already. To highlight this point and as we write this post, a new internet search engine is already growing rapidly – duckduckgo.com, more about this another time.