[Guest post by Ben Austin from Absolute Digital Media]
Online marketing is an ever changing landscape of moving goalposts and unexpected rule changes. Running an online business, you may have picked up a couple of marketing tips over the years which helped you get to where you are today – the problem is that because of the fluid nature of Google’s algorithms, best practice in 2013 is not the same as best practice today.
If we’ve learned one thing over the years, it’s that best practice today probably won’t be best practice in two years’ time, either. Here are a couple of digital marketing misconceptions we hear on a regular basis which could actually harm, not help, your eCommerce business. If you’re falling for any of these traps, it’s time to slam on the breaks and re-evaluate your online strategy.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
“Use all the keywords”
A few years ago everyone thought that the best way to get Google to notice your website was to fill every page with every keyword you could possibly think of, even if they were only tangentially related. Google realised what everyone was doing and changed their algorithms to force people to write better content. Google expects your pages to be written for your users, not a search engine, so if your content contains much more than 1 per cent keywords by volume, Google is likely to raise its proverbial eyebrows and ignore your site.
“Add all the links”
Link building is a term you have probably heard of, connecting your site to as many others as possible to show how important you are. At the end of 2014 Google rolled out the Penguin update which was designed to discourage unnatural links. Thanks to this, if your page consists of hundreds of poor quality links Google will notice and will penalise your site. If you want to build links properly you need to focus on building natural links in high quality content linking to authoritative sites – it’s that simple.
“I’m already ranked #1 on Google – job done!”
This one comes up a surprising amount. There can only be one site in the top position for any given search, and if that’s your site, congratulations – you now have countless other sites all vying for your spot. SEO is constantly changing and if you fail to keep on top of the latest set of rules you will lose your top spot very quickly. Likewise, if you stop trying to be number one, you will lose your top spot very quickly. Your SEO campaign is never over – like Google itself, your campaign is just ready for an update.
PPC (Pay Per Click)
“I can’t afford it/I don’t need online sales”
PPC is only expensive if you’re bidding on the wrong keywords. If competition is exceptionally high, the price will obviously go up – the trick is finding the right keywords to bid on that will boost your sales to the point where your ads pay for themselves. If you spend €1000 on your advertising campaign every month, it may seem like an expensive campaign. However if that €1000 bought you 100 clicks, giving you 5 new customers who spent €5000 between them, that’s a massive ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend). The only trick here is that it’s extremely important that you get your tracking set up accurately. If you don’t take the time to do this properly you will only have a rough idea as to your ROAS, and won’t be able to make an informed decision as to whether or not your ads are working.
“I don’t need a campaign for my own brand”
Yes, you do. If your brand is Nike, for example, you will have countless competitors bidding on your brand name. This begs the question who would you rather get the benefits of your brand name – you or your competitors? Nike, Adidas, Apple, Kellogg’s – all of these big name brands run ads for their own brand to ensure that when their customers are looking for them, they can cut out the middle man and stand out from the crowd.
“I’m already ranked #1 for organic search so I don’t need an ad”
Following on from the last point, yes you do. Case in point, the exact same examples as above – all of these big name brands are already ranked #1 for organic search, and yet they still pay for ads. This is partly because these ads will always sit above the organic search so if you want to appear at the top for both organic and paid search you need to work on both.
SMM (Social Media Management)
“Don’t respond to negative comments”
Everyone gets negative comments from time to time, and many people believe that negative comments should not be given the time of day. This is just wrong – if a customer takes the time to talk to you should always dignify them with a response, regardless of whether their comment was positive or negative. Social media is a spectator sport – if you ignore customers they will simply get more vocal, and while they remain customers for long they will likely go out of their way to warn other people off your brand. Always extend the olive branch and try to keep these users loyal to your brand.
“Social and Content Marketing are the same thing”
No, they’re not. They’re related in the same way that fire and gasoline are related – if you want to generate heat they go great together, but they are not the same thing and should be treated as two separate entities. By all means plan your social media around your content and write content which is highly sharable on social media, but never assume that they are one and the same.
“It’s easier to keep social in-house”
Sure, if you have the time, dedication and knowledge of social media metrics to efficiently track your engagement over time, it may be easier to keep this in-house. However, most people don’t have the time to do this, especially as social media is constantly evolving and staying ahead of the curve requires a true love of social media. Outsourcing your social media is a far more efficient option, especially if you can outsource your social media management to the same company generating your SEO and PPC campaigns.