As small businesses build their online presence, they may be convinced they need to spend thousands of dollars competing for search traffic by making sure their web site shows up high in Google Page Rankings.
Be careful, says one search-marketing expert.
Adam Stetzer of SearchEngineWatch.com says small businesses—at least ones new to online marketing—are often better off buying pay-per-click ads to generate search traffic before trying to compete in the elusive world of search-engine optimization (SEO).
“SEO is the worst place for a small business that is moving from word-of-mouth marketing to online marketing due to uncertainty, ROI time frame and complexity,” Stetzer writes.
One major problem, he says, is that SEO is a moving target. He points to how Google’s Matt Cutts recently suggested that Google search algorithms would no longer favor sites that use guest blogging to improve SEO, because that practice has become too widespread and “spammy.” A small-business owner may have spent a lot of time and money lining up guest bloggers only to discover that it no longer boosts its search rankings.
Another problem: It’s very hard for businesses to track the return on investment (ROI) of SEO efforts compared to other types of online marketing. SEO therefore becomes a money pit for businesses that aren’t careful.
Stetzer points to one big opportunity often overlooked by small businesses starting out in online marketing: email marketing.
Research has shown that the ROI on email marketing can run as high as $44 for every dollar spent.
Businesses that cultivate email lists of customers and prospects can use them to touch base on a regular basis, send coupons and other promotions and give updates. For a small, local business, that kind of personal and ongoing touch can be far more powerful and less expensive than getting hits on Google.
Businesses can grow their email lists in multiple ways. Amie Marse of SmallBizTrends.com offer these tips for how small businesses can grow their email marketing lists. Also check out this list of seven strategies I put together for making your company’s email marketing more effective.
Read more articles on email marketing.
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