Is SEO still the best way for marketers to draw visitors to their sites?
No one is saying SEO is dead, despite the cottage industry of blog pieces about its demise.
In fact, marketing legend Rand Fishkin believes that SEO is more powerful than social media marketing because users on search engines want to accomplish a task immediately, as opposed to social media users who want to browse and explore.
But ten years ago, most people would have scoffed at the notion that SEO was anything other than the king of the hill for marketing strategies.
In the last few years, however, Google’s new algorithms de-emphasized the importance of simple keywords and signaled a shift toward a more agile use of long-tail keywords that more closely approximated the way people actually thought when they made search queries.
What this showed is that SEO was not a monolithic marketing concept, and that in fact, SEO is not a one-size-fits-all strategy.
Which brings us back to this question: Does every business benefit from SEO?
The answer is that while SEO should be a part of every company’s marketing strategy, there are other strategies that could be more beneficial for businesses, depending on their target audience and their marketing needs.
Let’s take a look at how you can determine which marketing strategy best matches your business goals.
Identify Your Target Audience
Before you can decide whether SEO or some other strategy should dominate your marketing efforts, you first have to know what audience you are targeting.
Instead of a scattershot approach, figure out your target audience by creating buyer personas that represent your ideal client.
For example, let’s say you’re a legal firm that handles immigration law. Your buyer persona would include immigrants or families of immigrants who would most likely be attracted to the services you offer.
By understanding their behaviors, wants and needs, challenges and goals, you would zero in on the specific audience that would be most accepting of your marketing efforts.
And in doing so, you could then begin to identify where your target audience ‘hangs out’ and how to most effectively reach them.
But you’ve done more than half the work, because you’ve eliminated anyone who wouldn’t be responsive to your services, allowing you to be laser-specific in your marketing.
So, if you’re targeting young immigrants and immigrant families, you can now decide whether an SEO strategy is most effective based on your buyer persona.
Would optimizing keywords and creating quality backlinks draw this audience to your services, or is your audience most persuaded by quality content on social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn, where word-of-mouth and social proof are more effective ways to engage that audience?
Choose a Marketing Strategy Based On What Your Audience Needs
Having targeted your audience, you now know their needs, which also helps you understand which marketing strategy would most appeal to them.
For example, that same legal firm that deals in immigration law is probably not going to get a lot of tangible results by building a subscriber list and investing heavily in email marketing.
The reason is that there are far fewer prospects who would respond to this type of marketing from a legal firm, largely because legal services are not something that most people need or look for on a regular basis.
However, an ecommerce site that sells a product that everyone uses would benefit largely from email marketing, because it is selling something that has a wider appeal to a greater number of people.
And unlike the legal firm that specializes in immigration law, the ecommerce business is not reliant on special circumstances that have to occur in a prospect’s life, which means that consistent email marketing would be more welcome for the ecommerce site’s target audience.
As another example, let’s say you run a nonprofit organization for children, and your targeted audience is working mothers between the ages of 25 to 45.
While you may want to spend some time on SEO to drive traffic to your site, you may realize that event marketing is much more effective at reaching your target audience than it would be for an ecommerce company.
Whether that event marketing involves hosting a huge fundraiser, or sponsoring a conference, the one-on-one interaction and engagement with your audience can be a powerful way to raise brand awareness and to build relationships that generate quality leads.
Go To the Specific Instead of the General
The key thing to remember about SEO or any other kind of digital marketing strategy is that some work better than others.
And the only way for you to know which works best for your business is to stop thinking in terms of generalizations.
A legal firm has a different audience…and therefore different marketing goals than an ecommerce site or even a local business like a restaurant.
And while it’s important to understand all the pieces of the digital marketing puzzle, it is more important to understand how to use the right pieces from the right puzzle to drive your very unique marketing needs.
Marketing guru Seth Godin said that the brands that will have success will deliver “personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.”
Marketing Requires Constant Evaluation
Your marketing will always require analysis and evaluation to determine whether your ROI is where it needs to be. Things like Google Analytics can help you keep your thumb on the pulse of what’s happening with your website. Social media tools can help you keep track of what’s happening on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
But that process will be a lot easier if you are implementing a strategy that is responsive to the needs of your targeted audience as opposed to a throw everything at the wall to see what sticks.
If you need marketing advice, or you want to learn more about how to make your strategies more effective, please contact us today for a consultation.