by Michael Fleischner
I've heard it time and again, "Paying for online marketing is killing my business." Many of the small businesses I consult with, and even some of the larger ones continually complain about the cost of online marketing and advertising, especially when it comes to pay per click advertising.
Why is online advertising so painful?
Many small business owners do not have the resources needed to effectively manage online marketing or the experience to implement productive pay-per-click advertising campaigns. All too often the common result is an abundance of clicks and few if any sales. This happens because pay-per-click advertising can be very expensive and it's only half of the equation.
Once you get the appropriate traffic to your website, you need to focus on converting that traffic into paying customers. Improving on-site conversions can be a full-time job, and in most major companies it is. Many website owners have little knowledge or interest in creating and testing dynamic content, continually reinventing the purchase decision process, or evaluating their website's deficiencies. All they've succeeded in doing is spending a lot of money to drive people to an ineffective website. The result is a large expense and nothing to show for it.
Changing the equation
Improving conversions on your website is important, make no mistake about it. However, if you can reduce the cost associated with driving traffic to your site, the equation can shift in your favor. Enter organic search. My feeling is that instead of spending money on pay-per-click advertising; invest that money in improving your organic search results.
To enhance your organic search results, start with the basics of on-page optimization and off-page optimization. For complete details, you can learn more in my SEO guide available at http://www.webmastersbookofsecrets.com. As a top-level primer, let me highlight some of the key factors for both areas of optimization.
On-page optimization factors
When we talk about on-page optimization factors, we're referring to the proper use of HTML to signal the search engines what your site is about and what keywords best define your offer. On-page optimization, when done correctly, provides a strong platform for enhancing your natural search results.
The most important on-page factors include meta tags, keyword placement, keyword density, and link text. By using the proper meta tags in the proper format, placing keywords in your content using the right styles, and optimal page placement, results in improved organic search results. When working on your website, make sure that all code is WC3 compliant and you're using style sheets for formatting purposes. Placing java script or unnecessary code on your site can make it difficult for search engines to best understand your content.
Off-page optimization factors
Factors like link popularity and page rank all have a significant impact on your natural search results. Coupled with the competitiveness of other websites seeking optimal placement for your keyword or keyword phrase can also add a layer of complexity.
A great place to start your off-page optimization effort is through link building. Find other websites who are willing to exchange links with you, place a one-way link on their site to yours, or perhaps provide a link to unique content or tools you offer. By getting other websites to point to your website, you are well on your way towards enhancing organic search results.
Generating traffic to your site can be accomplished via online advertising, pay-per-click marketing, and organic search results. All too often, individuals believe that pay-per-click advertising is a quick way to Internet riches but quickly find out that the grass is always greener on the other side.
If you use SEM to promote your products, consider it to be only part of your overall marketing strategy. Invest your time in improving organic search results and the Internet marketing equation shifts in your favor. This method costs less and can drive significant traffic to your website resulting in a pos