Once upon a time, about 10 years ago, every new website focused on SEO as the holy grail of traffic generation. There were people shouting, “Content is King” from many rooftops, but for many website owners there seemed to be little correlation between the content on their website and the rankings in the SERPs. However, finally the voices have been heard and this position has clearly changed now – the evidence is unavoidable and a good search marketing agency will be able to deliver across a much wider product set.

Whilst SEO is vital, particularly when designing a website and during the early days of promotion, and because the vast majority of people will find you through search, what is now needed is unique, quality content that is promulgated through a variety of channels, including social media. And not just content, but also conversation.

Understanding what those who visit your website wish to find on your site – information, dialogue, multimedia content and so on – is vital if you want to beat your competitors. In the early days of the Internet, the directories and search engines were the place to find what you were seeking. But now users turn to Youtube (the second biggest search ‘engine’ after Google), the social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and word of mouth (or ‘mouse’).

Users subscribe to blogs rather than email newsletters; look to Twitter and specific #hashtags as well as using the search engines for information, breaking news or communities of interest; they ask friends and social networks (or even complete strangers in forums) for advice and recommendations. Understanding how to harness this shift through your marketing strategy seems to be vexing many.

It is important to grasp that you need to have in place both SEO and content marketing – one without the other will fail. And this applies to all markets, whether business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C). That business buyer at the other end of the phone or email or in a social network is just as much a social animal as you are. The purpose of socialising may be to achieve a different end e.g. to establish a potentially long-term, fruitful relationship with a supplier, rather than find a new washing machine or girlfriend, but much of the psychology is the same.

Many of the top brands who are also present on the social networks are those which are now seeing higher conversion rates, increased popularity, and a rise in sales. It can hardly be a coincidence.

Whether in your personal life or at work, the content of your conversations with others is that which will make you friends. Ask yourself whether as a business you are an introvert or extrovert company? Marketing is all about delivering the message to as wide a target audience as possible. And in the current economic climate, having only one single message or product is going to make life difficult.

By understanding who your audience is and what they are seeking, you can craft search engine optimised content that delivers the information that your website visitors are seeking and promote that content through the channels that your internet marketing must target to succeed.

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About the author:

A practising internet marketing consultant since 1996, Lindsey Annison helps companies improve their website marketing, online PR and information architecture. Lindsey is also a qualified adult education lecturer and author. As co-founder of the Access to Broadband Campaign, she has been instrumental in the provision of high-speed internet access to rural areas in the UK. Lindsey is also a past winner of Silicon.com's Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology