When we talk about online marketing, we predominantly refer to search engine optimisation (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and social media. The general objective of these activities is to drive traffic to a website and/or to perform an action that leads to a sales conversion, either directly or indirectly.
Search engine optimisation is the general term given to unpaid traffic – it is like PR in the conventional media world. These are “natural” results created by appearing on the first one or two pages of a search engine for a specific keyword (keywords can be one word or several). Most traffic in the UK is generated via Google (90%), followed by Bing (5%) and Yahoo (2%) so this indicates where one’s efforts should clearly be focused.
PPC only accounts for 5% of all search engine traffic but this does not mean it does not have an important role to play. For starters, it is very difficult to get on the first page of Google and it takes quite a bit of time (three months to a year, depending upon the competitiveness of the keyword). SEO is also becoming increasingly more complex. It is more of a science these days and, as a specialist skill, it is, therefore, more costly to get someone good to do it for you. The rules keep changing as technologies develop. Google keeps releasing fresh updates to try and find better ways to achieve the best results (and, speaking cynically, to make sure companies have to continue to invest in PPC too…).
PPC provides instantaneous results by comparison and one can test hundreds or even thousands of different keywords to find the ones that deliver the best conversions. Spending can be turned on or off at the press of a button. Budgets can be raised and lowered at the drop of a hat. It is easy to target specific geographical locations and to show your adverts at certain times on certain days. It is definitely the best way to test which keywords work best for your business before you start SEO work in earnest. That being said, we think that SEO is the long-term goal for most businesses, kick-started by a year or two of PPC. PPC is not just paid adverts on a search engine. It includes many forms of paid advertising on the internet such as network advertising, social media advertising, remarketing and so on.
Social media feels as if it has been around for ages and – rather like the dotcom boom and bust period – everyone felt that they had to have a Facebook page and a Twitter account at the time. Then – after a lot of wasted time and energy – many businesses decided to stop doing it because it did not seem to have any real benefit. Well, the time has come to start doing it again. Not only because social media has grown up and is now a great way to engage with audiences; not just because it helps one to think strategically, but also because it is good for SEO and it is going to become a more and more important factor. It is also very easy to build up good quality audiences now on both Facebook and Twitter. Don’t also forget about other important social media such as Pinterest, Google +, YouTube and LinkedIn.
Of course, the point is always to drive traffic to one’s website and that means that your website needs to look good and be rich in relevant content that is frequently updated. It also needs to display properly and deliver a good user experience on any platform that it is viewed. The amount of traffic that comes from mobiles and tablets has soared in the last couple of years and this trend will continue in future – so investing in a responsive website is a must. I should point out that Abacus Marketing will also have a responsive website by the end of the month…
We currently operate within the non-blue chip marketplace, with clients who spend from £5k up to £25k per month on integrated online marketing strategies. An important thing to note here is that companies who invest appropriately in a proper digital marketing strategy in 2014 are likely to enjoy a huge competitive advantage in their marketplace.