A Business Owner’s Guide To Online Marketing
At BirdSeed, we often talk and write about how our Live Video Chat software allows a much better customer experience once a person reaches your website. In a recent conversation with one of our clients, they discussed that they loved what our service did, but he had a hard time being found online. He didn’t understand the difference between various online marketing tactics and how to drive the right people to his website. We shared our expertise with him and wanted to do the same for you.
What is Online Marketing? (Also known as Internet marketing)
Online marketing is the use of various strategies to allow your website to show up (rank) for words and phrases related to your business when a customer puts them in a search engine from their desktop or phone. (Google is the largest and the most used search engine in the United States). These words and phrases can be who you are, what you do, and/or what you are selling. You can include things like pictures, directions, blogs, videos, promotions, and other things online that showcase your business. There are three main ways to promote your website online. These are through pay-per-click (PPC), Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and Local Listings. If I have 10 seconds to explain it, I would say. All marketing is a pitcher/catcher relationship. Advertising throws the pitch and your website catches it. BirdSeed can make the website experience phenomenal, and the following methods can be very effective marketing methods if done well also. PPC is a quick boost: get customers, today, but you have to pay for it. SEO is a marathon: a long and steady effort that may get customers in a month or two. However, the people who find your website this way are free. Local listings are reviews and maps. This is best used if you serve a specific geographic area.
Let’s give a more in-depth overview of the three.
Pay-Per-Click | PPC
PPC is an advertising model in which a person puts in a word or phrase and your website shows an ad with a link to your website. If they click on that ad you are charged by the company you are advertising on. Essentially, it’s a way of buying visits to your site from people interested in what you offer. Popular PPC systems include Google AdWords, Facebook, and Bing. The benefit of this method is that a person who puts in a certain keyword is much more likely to be looking for your product or service and will become a new customer if they come to your website. You can control the budget and how much you spend. Often a business knows how much the average customer is worth from a revenue perspective and can determine how much to spend on paid advertising based on that number. For example, if a company spends 100 dollars on Google Adwords and thirty people visit that website, then 3 become customers and buy 500 dollars worth of product, then it was a good investment.
One of the challenges of PPC is that it can become pretty complex to set up correctly. It can also burn through your advertising budget without the benefit of getting customers if it is not done well. Depending on the PPC platform (Google Adwords, Facebook, etc) you are limited in what you can say by only having so many characters, and also rules on what you are allowed to write. Our company, BirdSeed, finds that business owners and managers who put in “Live Chat Video Software” are often looking for the service we provide so we advertise for that keyword phrase.
If someone types this in Google, our ad below shows up. On most platforms, if something is an advertisement, it will say AD as it does in this example. Notice how we have calls to action, a brief explanation of what we offer and the ad is well written. If someone clicks on this, they are driven to our website. You can drive the person to any page on your website, or have them call a phone number or some other action that is appropriate for your business.
Search Engine Optimization | SEO
SEO are things you can do to make your website rank higher for phrases and keywords related to your business. Google, and other search engines, try to offer the most relevant result based on what the person is searching for. When SEO is done well, a website will rise in rank with the ultimate goal of being on the top of the search engine results page. Statistically, the higher the ranking the more likely is that a customer will click on it: with the first page being great and the top or near the first result being the best-case scenario. Getting this top position is no small feat, especially for businesses that have a lot of competition. To understand SEO and how Google finds a web page and determines the order of results, one must first understand how search engines (like Google) work.
In the simplest terms, you could think of searching the web as looking in a very large book with an impressive index telling you exactly where everything is located. When you perform a Google search, programs check the index to determine the most relevant search results to be returned (“served”) to you.
The three key processes in delivering search results to you are:
Crawling: Can the search engine find your site?
Indexing: Can the search engine index your site?
Serving: Does the site have good and useful content that is relevant to the user’s search?
Crawling is the process by which a search engine discovers new and updated pages to be added to the index. A vast array of computers fetch (or “crawl”) billions of pages on the web. The program that does the fetching is called a spider (also known as a robot, bot, or spider). These bots use an algorithmic process: computer programs determine based on that which sites to crawl and how often.
The search engine processes each of the pages it crawls in order to compile a massive index of all the words it sees and their location on each page. These search engines look for things on a website like keywords, title tags, URL structure, and other technical components in a website’s structure.
When a user enters a query, the search engines check the index for matching pages and return the results most relevant to the user. Relevancy is determined by over 200 factors, called signals. But the entire exact algorithm is secret, partitioned, and has small tweaks often. You may have heard about different Google updates such as Penguin, Panda, or Hummingbird- terms for a large change rolled out to the algorithm.
The most important thing to have great SEO is to create content that people want to read, interact with and share. People have tried throughout the years to game the search engines (ergo the algorithm updates) with black hat techniques by buying links, keyword stuffing, and cloaking and eventually had severe penalties when Google or other search engines stopped showing a site entirely or lost all earned rank. White hat means legit methods to increase SEO and almost always includes putting out quality content. Here is the result in SEO for when someone puts in “live video chat software”
A local business listing is an online entry that contains your business Name, Address, and phone number (NAP) along with other details. You can often also have customers leave reviews and include a map, promotion, or images as well. There are a lot of websites like Yelp, Google Local, and the Yellow Pages where local businesses can create free local business listings. In our experience, Google Local and Yelp are the most seen. Local listings are independent of your website, but many companies embed reviews, testimonials, and even map pages on their contact methods on their website. Many people search local businesses by name, address, or phone number. For example, BirdSeed, directions.
Bonus Items- Responsive Websites and SSL
Responsive design is a relatively new approach to website design that ensures users have a good user experience no matter what type of device they’re visiting your website from. With a large migration of users using mobile instead of a desktop to find your business, it is imperative that your customer have the best experience. This is so important that if a website is not responsive, SEO can be affected negatively.
HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) and HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) are both protocols for passing data between web servers and clients. All you need to know is that HTTPS is a secure connection, whereas HTTP is insecure. SSL means secure socket layer. It is an additional layer of security for a website. Historically, only websites that had e-commerce transactions or collected sensitive information required this, however, as of October 2017, ANY website that does not have an SSL will be marked as unsafe by Google. (To get an SSL, simply call your hosting provider- typically they run about 50-100 dollars a year)
Which Online Marketing Method is Best?
There is no one size fits all solution for any business. Some of these methods work great for a business and some companies haven’t found success with a particular method. Often that is because set-up and implementation are incorrect. BirdSeed offers an incredible way for you to engage your audience once they reach your website, so we wanted to offer this guide to help you to get them there. Contact us today to learn more about how we can increase sales and enhance the customer experience.