A lot of marketing advice is available online, some of it extremely helpful, some of it outright incorrect. The Internet can be a double-edged sword: Information is readily available and easy to access, but not all of it is good advice.
To begin to address that problem, I took five popular online-marketing options -- search engine optimization, local SEO, pay-per-click, content marketing and social media -- and wrote down the first three one-sentence pieces of advice that came to mind.
So, read through the results and, in the comments section, add to any of the five topics your own best single-sentence pieces of marketing advice. Your contribution could potentially help someone get off on the right foot and experience a successful beginning to his or her online marketing journey.
1. Search Engine Optimization
Don't neglect your on-page optimization. I'll often hear small business owners say things like, "I need more links to rank," when in reality all they need is proper on-page optimization. For local businesses, especially those in low-competition industries and markets, solid on-page optimization can deliver noticeable gains in and of itself. If you are completely new to on-page optimization, check out this guide designed for beginners.
If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Achieving a number-one ranking for the key word "weight loss" overnight -- for the extremely low price of only $199! -- sounds great, doesn't it? So do those emails I receive offering to share an $88 million inheritance if I simply send $500 via Western Union to cover the paperwork fees. If it sounds too good to be true, it typically is.
Key-word rankings are important, but ROI is more important. Key-word rankings are a part of SEO, but they aren't the be-all and end-all of a successful campaign. Many SEO agencies focus on key-word rankings and lead the client to believe that all is well because a few terms have reached "ranking 1" in Google. But if those key words aren't bringing in revenue, they are useless. A ranking report is nice, but knowing how much ROI your SEO campaign is delivering is more important.
2. Local SEO
Understand that local search is constantly evolving. When Google's local pack went down to three listings, people freaked out. Nothing ever stays the same, especially when it comes to local search. You need to constantly stay up to date on the changes -- a perfect reason to read SEO news blogs daily, such as the ones listed here.
Get creative, and you can secure some of the most powerful local links from within your community. There are websites with amazing metrics right in your local community. Get creative and seek out opportunities that can lead to landing a link. Local schools often have athletic-sponsorship opportunities, and community websites often have pages dedicated to local businesses that have made a donation. Dedicate an afternoon to this and I am willing to bet you will uncover some golden link opportunities right in your local area.
Make sure your website passes the mobile-friendly test, but also use real-life testers to improve user experience. Running your website through Google's mobile-friendly test will let you know whether or not Google deems your website mobile-friendly, but it doesn't guarantee that your user experience is the best it can be. After you pass Google's test, get real-life input and reactions from users. These could come from employees, friends, family members or complete strangers. Have them run through your pages, attempt to contact you and access your offers. Use their feedback to improve your user experience.
3. Pay per click
Don't be afraid of Bing. AdWords, AdWords and more AdWords. This Google feature is what everyone thinks of when they hear "pay per click" (PPC). Yes, AdWords can deliver a boatload of traffic, but it isn't the only game in town. Import your PPC campaign into Bing and give it a try. Sure, the search volume and traffic numbers are lower, but lot of businesses will see a lower cost-per-click and higher conversion rate from this traffic source.
Create campaign-specific landing pages. Never drive paid traffic to your home page. It's a complete waste. Doing this leaves the responsibility on visitors to find whatever it is that caused them to click on your ad -- a free offer, a special discount or a particular product or service. Send your PPC traffic to a page that offers exactly what your ad promised. Landing pages with one clear offer and no site navigation or other distractions will convert at the highest rate.
Quality score is your wallet's best friend. It's possible to get a lot of traffic with a low quality score. It's also possible that the traffic will convert and leave you with a nice ROI. But, don't you want to maximize your PPC return? Spend just a little time on your quality score and you will often see more traffic as well as lower cost-per-clicks. Many people ignore their quality score as long as their campaign is producing a positive return.
4. Content Marketing
Stay consistent with your content publishing schedule, however frequent it may be. Not every business is going to have the manpower or need to publish content on its blog every single day. It doesn't matter how often you publish, but once you do establish a publishing schedule, it's important that you stick to it. Your visitors will get accustomed to the schedule and if they return to your website expecting new content to engage with but are left disappointed, they might not return -- ever. Daily, bi-weekly, weekly or monthly: Whatever you decide on, remain consistent.
Give enough value, and you will convert some of your audience into customers. Don't create content to try to sell products or services to your audience. Do it to educate and inform, and you will naturally convert some of your visitors into customers. When you constantly put out value without asking anything in return, you are rewarded with loyal brand followers that take the plunge with your company once they are ready.
Continue to share your content: Your entire audience isn't going to see it the first (or second) time 'round. Worthwhile content takes time and money to create, so why do some brands share their content only one time? You should be recycling your content and putting it out there via your social media channels and email list multiple times. Your entire audience isn't going to be exposed to it after the first time you share it. It might take a half-dozen times before a large percentage of visitors actually see it.
5. Social Media Marketing
Automation is great, but don't go overboard. A lot of companies use automation because it's convenient, and they assume it's working. Too much automation, though, can be a bad thing. A perfect example: Twitter has programs that will automatically "favorite" a tweet containing a particular hashtag or term. I'm willing to bet I could tweet something completely outrageous and offensive, and as long as it included an #SEO hashtag, there would be a few accounts that favorited it.
Mix organic and paid promotion. To get the full benefit of social-media marketing, you need to mix some paid promotion with your organic campaigns. Paid promotion enables you to put your offers in front of an audience that doesn't typically engage with your posts. As with everything else, start small and test to find out what works best for your business.
Take full advantage of Facebook's targeting options to put your offer right in front of your ideal customer. Facebook will let you put your ads directly in front of ideal buyers, so take advantage of this opportunity. If your business sold NFL team hats, wouldn't you want to create separate ads for every team and advertise them to people based on their location as well as their favorite NFL football team? With Facebook targeting, you can create an ad for a Miami Dolphins hat and market it only to people in Greater Miami who have indicated that they like the team.
Let's hear your own best single-sentence pieces of online marketing advice! Relate them to SEO, local SEO, PPC, content marketing and social media marketing. Please head to the comments section to participate.