Internet Marketing: The Basics to Getting Your Business Noticed
[Editor's note: this blog post is a companion piece to an episode of our podcast, created in an effort to make our podcast more accessible to people with hearing difficulties].
The big idea behind Internet Marketing, the reason why we sell websites, and the reason that we can push results for websites is an idea called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the way that a search engine finds, understands, and serves your page as a result in Google or Bing. So, there are two types of SEO, and we're going to start with the one that's a little bit easier for you to manipulate if you've got your own website. And that's what's called on-page SEO.
The main part of on-page SEO is keywords. It used to be the practice to use single keywords, but as technology became more advanced, single keywords have been replaced by long-tail keywords, because that's how people actually search the internet, e.g., "rare book stores in Chicago." A big thing to remember here when we're talking about keywords is that we build websites for Google. At this point, Google has 92% of the world's search traffic. Google has the best algorithms for recognizing keywords, and Google has a program called Google Ads, where you can pay to have certain keywords pointed at your site.
The second part of SEO is the site's meta description. For those of you who might not have used Google in the last 10 years, the meta description is that block of text that describes a page under the link on that results page. And that text describes the content of that page. It has your keywords, probably your business name, a description of your services or your products, or your call-to-action. So, websites are built for Google, keywords are guided by Google, and meta descriptions are determined by Google. Obviously, there are other search engines out there like Bing, Yahoo, Lycos, etc.; however, they only account for a measly 8% of search traffic. Google sets the trends, and so we've got to follow them.
The third part of on-page SEO is the content. And this is where many people struggle the most. Content is literally anything on your website. And it's the key to how well your site ranks. Google's algorithms have gotten so advanced over the last couple of years that their AI actually reads your content and understands it (to a point). So they understand if you're duplicating content; they also understand if you have no idea what you're talking about. And so combining these three things: your keywords, your meta descriptions, and your page content is the whole idea of on-page SEO. Creating your content can definitely be a challenge, especially when you're working in an industry where there's not a whole lot to say about what you do. So content creation usually ends up being the most time-intensive part, but it's also the part that really gets you on those search result pages.
So, we've covered the different aspects of on-page SEO, but your website is not the only place for your website to get optimized for search engines, which sounds a little counterintuitive, I know. What I'm referring to is off-page SEO. The first one we're going to take a look at is search engine profiles.
Search engine profiles are basically your business pages. When you search for a business on Google or Bing, you will see a little sidebar that comes up next to search results. And it's a box that usually has a picture, the business name, the business hours, a couple of reviews, etc. These are your places accounts. You should make sure to have them flushed out with accurate information, respond to your reviews, engage with your clients, be an authority, and a presence.
Now, let's switch over to something people don't think of when they talk about off-SEO, and that's social media. One of the ways you can use social media to increase your presence is through social media advertising. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all have paid advertising. And just like Google Ads, social media advertisements allow you to narrow down who your ad is being shown to. That's super important because if your ad is being shown to a person who's not necessarily going to make a transaction or give your business service, then you are wasting money. You can target who sees your ads based on things like age, their gender, their interests, their physical location, etc., so you can be sure that your ads are being shown to the people most likely to engage with your business. And you have to engage with your audience, even though you're a brand. People don't like interacting with companies; people don't like interacting with robots; people would much rather interact with a person.
If somebody comments on your Business Facebook page, you definitely should be commenting back, even if it's just a quick thank you. And engage with everybody, even negative comments. The worst thing you can do is delete a negative comment. You'll look shady. If somebody's got a negative comment, if it's truly negative, then the best thing to do is apologize, especially if you were at fault. If not, explain why you weren't, and the other people who see that negative comment will read the whole conversation and determine whether or not it was your fault. If you handle it tactfully, they'll see that you're obviously not at fault. And as a matter of fact, since you responded in such a tactful and polite way, they'll have more confidence in you. They'll realize that care about your customers and not just a business who would screw them over.
Videos, especially timelapse videos, are one of the best forms of content marketing. A Hubspot study found that 100 million hours of video content are watched on Facebook every day. Just let that sink in for a minute: 100 million hours of video. That's roughly 4 million days of video watched every single day. Isn't that nuts? 4 million days. That's 11,000 years. So video content is obviously doing well, especially on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—you know, the core social networks. And again, I think this comes back to not only the interaction but the idea that there are people behind these brands doing stuff.
Wrapping Things Up
So at the end of the day, all of this ties back to content creation being key, and while knowing how to do keyword research might not be for you, understanding what your business's keywords are shouldn't be hard. You run the business. Say, you're a plumber. Plumbing is probably your main keyword; all you have to do is add your location or maybe the specific type of plumbing you do to it, and all of a sudden, you've got your long-tail keyword. You turn that into your content, you write a little description, you get it up on your website, and all of a sudden, the process has begun.
It all comes down to this idea: your business is currently a choice; you need to convince your visitors that you're the choice. You don't have to give away all of your trade secrets, but if you're a plumber, then providing visitors with the information about the correct way to caulk their sink to stop a small leak is a good idea. Maybe you don't get that one 10-minute job, but when their pipes burst, they'll remember that you were helpful fixing a small problem, so they're more likely to look back to your business. Be a little bit helpful with the ultimate goal of funneling them back to contacting you.