Whatever business you are in, you cannot ignore marketing online, especially today.
But here’s the crazy thing, local businesses are ignoring it. In fact, 76% of local businesses in the UK are ignoring it.
Yes many have a website, and a tiny few have a Facebook page, but few take it seriously. I know this because most of my time is spent talking with small business owners.
On the other side of the fence we have an almost unlimited supply of SEO and online marketing experts. They sell an ever growing number of online marketing methods including On Page SEO, PPC, Backlinking, List Building, Auto-responders, Mobile Sites, SMS, Article Marketing, Reputation Management, Newsletters, Press releases, Joint Ventures, Affiliate scheme, RSS, Social, Blogs, Video etc.
So we have local businesses who either don’t care, don’t understand or are completely bewildered by all the technology, and hence very reticent to do anything about it.
Not least because for every legitimate webmaster there are a bunch of cowboys plus many others who are well meaning but not good enough to cope in today’s changing landscape.
Now, add on to this a fast changing search engine environment and you really have a recipe for disaster.
But it’s all a lot simpler than that. It starts as always with a great product or service.
Then you identify your market (in theory it should be the other way round [look for the problem, create the solution], but in practice it rarely is).
Finally you find out where your market hangs out and market to them.
Google have just released a new patent (August 2012) that will hurt SEO specialists a lot. In short it says if you try to manipulate the search engine ranking positions, they will find out and your site will be punished.
They are looking for signals.
If a page on your site drops a few places and you take action to try to recover (eg. editing the page or adding backlinks) a yellow flag is raised (especially if the activity is different from what has happened previously to that page – the search engines know everything!).
If that page drops even further despite your interventions, and so you start removing the backlinks, then the yellow flag turns to red and your page may get a manual check or it just may drop off the charts completely.
And all the above could happen over a delayed and unknown time period.
The bottom line is that from now onwards, the more you attempt to game the system the more likely you are to be caught out.
So the only choice is to create great content, let others know about it and pray you get some backlinks and mentions along the way.
No one knows where all this is going, but one thing is for sure, if you have been relying on search engines in the past for traffic and leads, you had better be very very careful in future about your SEO.
I am going to have another dabble in PPC and media buys. I will report back when I have some solid results for you. One thing is for sure. Bigger businesses spend a considerable amount of their advertising money online. It is now time for small businesses to do the same.