Should you be making a big hole in your bank account over search engine marketing (SEM), or should you invest more in editorial for quality content (or in R&D, usability and interface design for a quality product)
There will always be room for debate, and no doubt each side will bring out valid points. But at the end of the day, you would want to look at a strategy that will work. So what will be the best strategy to get your website the kind of traffic that will bring in conversions, stickiness, and eventually and burgeoning community. Honestly, you don’t have to be an internet guru to achieve this, the formula to getting your site to succeed is simple.
1. Search Engine Marketing in plain and simple words is, advertising.
You could create a great advertisement, get a lot of people interested and create a great spike in your traffic, of course you’ll end up spending money, but you really can get people to keep using your product if isn’t good, eventually, the real success of a product is dependent on the quality of the product. You could do SEM in several ways i.e. paid ads, paid linking, link exchange etc.., but the whole effort will be futile if people come to your site and don’t use it, or worst go away within a few seconds and never come back, cause if they don’t like your site/product and decide never to come back, even if you make changes later it’s going to be a uphill task to get these users to come back to your site.
2. Search Engine Marketers will tell you otherwise
Let’s be honest, salespeople work on smart strategies to sell to you something that you really don’t need but they will create a scenario to make you feel like you cannot succeed without their services. And not-surprisingly you will see results, yes things will work, but the truth is that SEM is not a permanent solution, cause even though it will give you instant spike, without quality content/quality product, it’s only going to be temporary and you will have to keep spending regularly to keep your visitor trend constant, or even more if you want to see the graph go upward.
3. Content is king (for content related portals/websites)
Don’t believe anyone who tells you it is not. Ideally don’t even hire that person (because that person will end up burning a deeper hole in your pocket than you want). Search engines work on algorithms that aim to bring up related (quality) content on the top, and search engine developers are constantly working to better their algo’s to make sure unrelated(pseudo) link-building schemes are not honored and worst penalized. Rest assured, if you have quality content, and people like what they see, they themselves will keep coming back, many will be generous to link back to you and with social networking on its high, many will be generous to share that link or tweet it. Eventually you will see a rise in traffic and that rise does not fall that easily.
4. Product Quality Matters
If yours is a service related website, a product or an e-commerce website, pay more attention on spending on research and development, usability and interface design. Having a good product, will ensure word-of-mouth marketing (which is any day better than paid marketing, I am sure you know that). For example, facebook or twitter, how much did they really spend on marketing? Maybe, you will need to initially invest in SEM but be caution and strategize to ensure that the spending is restricted and there’s a kill plan (downward spending on SEM). Good product have the ability to sell them-selves, yes they initially need a push.
5. Pay attention to Search Engine Optimization but please don’t get trapped in hiring an Agency, hire a good SEO (search engine optimizer) or a consultant instead.
SEO/SEM agencies love companies that don’t have geeks (every programmer is not a geek, nor is every self proclaimed techy or every engineer or IIT pass-out or every SEO/SEM manager), because geeks understand how things ‘tech’ work. And it’s easy for agencies to sell to such companies. It would help to hire somebody who understands technology from code-level to SEO and SEM and new technologies, it will be indeed a worth-while investment, or hiring a consultant for limited time, from time to time would work, But don’t fall for agencies.
6. Effective Strategy may not show result overnight but they will withstand against all odds
Any good leader will agree with this, unlike magical methods with overnight results (and long term losses), an effective strategy with focus on quality content/quality product will take time to reach the top, but once it’s there, it’s very hard for competition to shake it’s position, yes it requires patience and perseverance, but the result are outstanding and so is the ROI.
Do leave in your comment, contact me if you need consultation (yes, I will charge you, but not atrocious sums like the agencies).