In the last decade many small businesses have sprouted and grown tremendously almost solely with sales and leads generated from the internet. Like no other time, a business could launch a fairly simple website, and have clients seemingly dropping from the sky wanting to use its products and services. Google has played well into the online business world; at their start they didn’t even have ads. Listings were all free. With a bit of intelligence and some time to study, any entrepreneur could get traction in virtually any market.
Flash forward to 2011 and 2012 with Google’s Penguin and Panda updates, not to mention Google+, Google Places, Google Reviews, Google Maps, and it seems that Google owns the online world. You may have noticed the ever increasing prevalence of Google ads for almost all searches which result in a potential payout for some sort of business. Or perhaps you have seen the ever-increasing listings of Google Places results, which push your once top listing in organic results further down; even off the first page of search results. Now, you not only need to play smart to succeed on the internet you need to play by a strict set of rules laid out clearly by Google. Rules that are setup to provide what Google considers to be the best results for their searchers (is that you?) and to protect, if not increase the revenue generated by Google distributed ads.
Some may cry foul. The internet with its wealth of information should be protected and free for all citizens of this planet. Reality is that the internet is business as usual. For it to improve there must be a motive, often one of profits.
Just last week Google’s top SPAM cop Matt Cutts released a video forecasting the pending revisions to their search engine algorithm including updates and tuning to their Panda and Penguin. If your company is hooked on returning at or near the top of the search results, whether your traffic has been impacted by changes in recent years or not, it would be wise to evaluate your marketing plans going forward. Today’s internet has real costs: those for SEO, SEM, Social Media Marketing and more. Costs either in real dollars to hire outside agencies, or the time you must spend on online marketing efforts, or the time of your staff.
Just as you doctor suggests a well rounded diet (and exercise) is good for your health, your marketing plan should also be well rounded. Google is not the only game in town; they do have competition from Bing and Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. A complete and balanced marketing diet going forward will consist of a bit of all of these online venues, along with a healthy dose of email marketing and traditional offline media. To be successful in the future you can’t have all your marketing marbles in one basket!
So choose the online channels that best reach your clients and work them to your advantage and remember to be diversified.