Today, with nearly half the world’s population wired to the internet, the ever-increasing connectivity has created global shifts in strategic thinking and positioning, disrupting industry after industry, sector after sector. Seemingly, with each passing day, some new technological tool emerges that revolutionizes our lives, further deepening and embedding our dependence on the world wide web.
And why not? Human beings have always enthralled themselves into one pursuit after another, all with a means to an end of improving our lives. Clearly, the conveniences afforded by the internet are quite literally earth-shattering to say the least. Three decades ago, few could have ever imagined the present state of our on-demand-everything society, with the ability to instantly communicate and conduct business in real-time, at a pace that often seems dizzying at the best of times.
However, with all of these so-called modern conveniences to life, where technology’s ever-pervading presence has improved even the most basic tasks for us such as hailing a ride or ordering food or conducting any sort of commerce instantly and efficiently, many are left in the dark. While all of us have become self-professed experts at consuming content and utilizing a variety of tools freely available to search and seek out information, we’re effectively drowning in a sea of digital overload.
The truth? Today, rising above the noise and achieving any semblance of visibility has become a monumental undertaking. While we might prevail at searching, we fail at being found. How are we supposed to get notice while swimming in a sea of misinformation and disinformation? We’ve become immersed in this guru gauntlet where one expert after another is attempting to teach us how we can get the proverbial word out about our businesses and achieve visibility to drive more leads and sales, but we all still seem to be lost.
It’s clear that online marketing is no simple task. And the reason why we’ve landed in this world of “expert” internet marketers who are constantly cheerleading their offers to help us reach visibility and penetrate the masses is because of the layer of obscurity that’s been afforded to us in part thanks to one key player: Google. Google’s shrouded algorithms that cloud over 200+ ranking factors in a simple and easy-to-use interface has confounded businesses for well over a decade now.
Understanding Online Marketing
Google’s core algorithms and its propensity to shroud its data in layers of obscurity is not something new. However, it is critical to any understanding of marketing on the internet simply because this visibility is at the heart of everything else that you do. Forget about social media and other forms of marketing for the time being. Search engine optimization (SEO) offers up the proverbial key to near-limitless amounts of traffic on the web.
The better you learn and understand SEO and the more strides you take to learn this seemingly confusing and complex discipline, the more likely you’ll be to appear organically in search results. And let’s face it, organic search is important to marketing online. Considering that most people don’t have massive advertising budgets and don’t know the first thing about lead magnets, squeeze pages and sales funnels, appearing visible is critical towards long-term success.
When traffic is coming to your website or blog, nearly unfettered, it gives you the opportunity to test out a variety of marketing initiatives. However, without that traffic, you’re forced to spend money on costly ads before really determining the effectiveness of your offers and uncovering your cost-per acquisition (CPA), two things which are at the core of scaling out any business online.
I liken this to a paradoxical Catch-22 scenario, because it seems like without one you can’t have the other. It takes money to drive traffic, but it takes traffic to make money. So don’t make the mistake that millions of other online marketers make around the world. Before you attempt to scale or send any semblance of traffic to your offers, be sure to split-test things to oblivion and determine your conversion rates before diving in headfirst.
Gaining Google’s Trust
The biggest problem that most people have when trying to learn anything to do with driving more traffic to their website or boosting their visibility across a variety of online mediums, is that they try to do the least amount of work for the greatest return. They cut corners and they take shortcuts. Because of that, they fail. Today, if you’re serious about marketing anything on the web, you have to gain Google’s trust.
Gaining Google’s trust doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. Think about building up your relationship with anyone. The longer you know that person, the more likely that trust will solidify. So, the reasoning is, that if Google just met you, it’s going to have a hard time trusting you. If you want Google to trust you, you have to get other people that Google already trusts, to vouch for you. This is also known as link-building.
But I’m not talking about any kind of link building. I’m talking about organic link building by getting out there and creating insatiable “anchor content” on your website, then linking to that content with equally-great content that’s created on authority sites like Medium, Quora, LinkedIn and other publishing platforms. It’s not easy by any measure. Google is far more wary of newcomers these days than it once used to be.
However, if you’re going to understand online marketing, you have to understand the importance of building Google’s trust. There are three core components involved here. These three core components are like the pillars of trust that comprise all of Google’s 200+ ranking factor rules. Each of those rules can be categorized and cataloged into one of these three pillars of trust. If you want to rank on the first page or in the first spot, you need to focus on all three, and not just one or two out of three.
Trust Component #1: Indexed Age
The first component of Google’s trust has to do with age. Age is more than a number. But it’s not just the age when you first registered your website. The indexed age has to do with two factors: i) the date that Google originally found your website, and; ii) what happened between the time that Google found your website and the present moment in time.
Just think about any relationship for a moment. How long you’ve known a person is incredibly important. It’s not the be-all-end-all, but it is fundamental to trust. If you’ve known someone for years and years and other people that you know who you already trust can vouch for that person, then you’re far more likely to trust them, right? But if you’ve just met someone, and haven’t really vetted them so to speak, how can you possibly trust them?
Trust Component #2: Authority
What’s the authority of your website or webpage, or any other page on the internet for that matter where you’re attempting to gain visibility? Authority is an important component of trust, and it relies heavily on quality links coming from websites that Google already trusts. Authority largely relates to the off-page optimization discipline of SEO that occurs away from the webpage as opposed to the on-page optimization that occurs directly on the webpage.
For example, what are the quality and quantity of the links that have been created over time? Are they natural and organic links stemming from relevant and high quality content, or are they spammy links, unnatural links or coming from bad link neighborhoods? Are all the links coming from the same few websites over time or is there a healthy amount of global IP diversification in the links?
Trust Component #3: Content
Content is king. It always has been and it always will be. Creating insightful, engaging and unique content should be at the heart of any online marketing strategy. Too often, people simply don’t obey this rule. The problem? This takes an extraordinary amount of work. However, anyone that tells you that content isn’t important, is not being fully transparent with you. You cannot excel in marketing anything on the internet without having quality content.
Quality content is more likely to get shared. By staying away from creating “thin” content and focusing more on content that cites sources, is lengthy and it reaches unique insights, you’ll be able to gain Google’s trust over time. Remember, this happens as a component of time. Google knows you can’t just go out there and create massive amounts of content in a few days. If you try to spin content or duplicate it in any fashion, you’ll suffer a Google penalty and your visibility will be stifled.
An Overarching View Of Marketing On The Web
Okay, if you’re still with me, fantastic. You’re one of the few that doesn’t mind wading through a little bit of hopeless murkiness to reemerge on the shores of hope. But before we jump too far ahead, it’s important to understand what online marketing is and what it isn’t. That definition provides a core understanding of what it takes to peddle anything on the web, whether it’s a product, service or information.
When we talk about marketing on the internet, we’re talking about driving traffic or boosting visibility via a number of means. Any type of advertising done on the internet to promote any product, person, service, business or place for that matter, can be deemed as online marketing. However, to succeed in this arena, whether it’s SEO, social media, email marketing or beyond, you need to ensure you adhere to the three pillars of trust first and foremost.
Types Of Online Marketing
There are ten essential types of marketing that can be done online. Some of these can be broken down into organic marketing and others can be categorized as paid marketing. Organic, of course, is the allure of marketing professionals from around the planet. It’s free and its unencumbered traffic that simply keeps coming. Paid marketing, on the other hand, is still a very attractive proposition as long as the marketing pays for itself by having the right type of offer that converts.
#1 — Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO should be a core tactic in any marketing strategy. While it might seem difficult to understand at first, as long as you find the right course, book or audiobook, and devote your time to learning, you’ll be in good shape. Considering that there are over 200+ ranking factors in Google’s current algorithms, learning, digesting and successfully implementing good SEO tactics is essential to the success of your website or blog.
- Pay attention to the often-overlooked on-page optimization elements such as your page speed, which can be determined by using tools like GTMetrix, Pingdom and Google’s own Page Speed Insights.
- Leverage Google’s new Accelerated Mobile Projects (AMP) specification to ensure that you appear relevantly on mobile searches using this new lightning-fast loading spec.
- Utilized Google’s Webmaster Tools for suggestions on fine-tuning your site’s structured data, rich cards, and other HTML improvements such as discovering duplicate title and meta tags, and so on.
- Read Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and ensure that your content and your overall SEO strategies are in harmony with what the search giant is looking for.
- Always build high quality, relevant content that’s unique, insightful and engaging, paving the way for a higher likelihood of visitors sharing that content organically and naturally.
#2 — Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Organic SEO’s flip-side offers up a paid method for marketing on search engines like Google. SEM provides an avenue for displaying ads through networks such as Google’s Adwords and other paid search platforms that exist across the web throughout social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and even video sites like YouTube, which, invariably, is the world’s second largest search engine.
By utilizing SEM, it provides you with a great avenue for getting the word out quickly and effectively. If you have the budget, then marketing on search engines for competitive keywords might be the right fit for you. But be prepared to pony up. Keywords can range anywhere from a few cents to upwards of $50 and more. The quality score for any term is reflective of what you can expect to pay for bidding on that keyword. The lower the competition, the lower the quality score and the lower the price.
However, SEM doesn’t just cover paying for clicks, but also paying for impressions. That means, for example, that every 1000 times your ad is displayed, you pay a pre-arranged amount, regardless of whether anyone clicked on it or not. While this is a less popular form of advertising, it still exists today on some platforms.
#3 — Social Media Marketing
One of the hottest forms of marketing anything online right now is through social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram, amongst others. Social media provides a near-direct avenue for reaching the masses, but it most certainly isn’t a simple or easy thing to achieve saturation, especially when we’re talking about millions of followers.
In a number of recent articles, where I’ve interviewed some of social media’s rising stars such as Jason Stone from Millionaire Mentor, Sean Perelstein, who built StingHD into a global brand and Nathan Chan from Foundr Magazine, amongst several others, it’s quite clear that multi-million-dollar businesses can be built on the backs of wildly-popular social media channels and platforms.
However, getting that saturation is a frustrating process. Obviously, it doesn’t happen overnight. Based on my conversations with numerous rising stars in social media, there are a few things that should be done when it comes to gaining attention through a variety of social media channels.
- Find your voice: decide what your message is going to be and stick to it. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Make a decision and stay committed to it. Whether it’s a topic, idea, niche, business or something else, do your best not to waver.
- Be real and be yourself: people can see through those that try to put up a front on social media channels. Don’t try to be something that you’re not. Be real and be yourself. It will resonate with people.
- Deliver value no matter what: Regardless of who you are and what you’re trying to promote, always deliver value, first and foremost. Go out of your way to help others by carefully curating information that will assist them in their journey. The more you focus on delivering value, the quicker you’ll reach that proverbial tipping point when it comes to exploding your fans or followers.
- Constantly engage with others: many of the social media superstars I’ve spoken to have said that, in the beginning, they followed the popular profiles and constantly commented, shared and engaged with others. Not just on their own profiles, but by directly commenting on photos and engaging in conversations on other feeds.
If you’re serious about finding your voice and discovering the secrets to success in business, one of the best people to follow is Gary Vanyerchuck, CEO of Vayner Media, and early-stage invest in Twitter, Uber and Facebook, has arbitraged his way into the most popular social media platforms and built up massive followings and often spills out the secrets to success in a highly motivating and inspiring way.
#4 — Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads
PPC advertising is a method of advertising on search engines like Google and Bing. As mentioned earlier, with PPC ads, you pay each time that ad is clicked on. PPC ads also exist on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook as well. However, if you’re going to engage in PPC advertising, it’s important that you determine conversion rates by using tracking pixels.
By using the Facebook tracking pixel or the Adwords pixel, you can help to define your audience and work to entice them to come back to your site. Let’s say the didn’t finish their purchase or they simply showed up and left after adding something to their shopping cart, or they filled out a lead form and disappeared, you can re-target those individuals.
Re-targeting is one of the most effective ways to market your business online, because you’re marketing to “warm” traffic, or people who’ve already visited your site. If you’ve ever gone to a website and then seen those ads following you around the internet, then you’re well aware of what re-targeting is.
When running PPC ads, it’s important that you keep careful track of the specific ads and keywords that you’re targeting. You can do this by using the Google Analytics UTM builder to create campaign URLs that you can use to track the campaign source, the medium and any keywords or terms that you might be targeting. This way, you can determine the effectiveness of any campaign that you run and figure out the precise conversion rate.
#5 — Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is the art of marketing products, services or information for others. It doesn’t require that you ever house or warehouse a single thing. But it does require that you have an audience to market those things to online. Without that audience, whether it’s through search engines like Google or social media channels like Facebook, you’ll find a difficult time with affiliate marketing.
However, if you are seasoned online marketer, and you’ve built a substantial following, then marketing as an affiliate might be the right fit. Jason Stone from Millionaire Mentor has built a seven-figure business with affiliate marketing, while David Sharpe from Legendary Marketer has built up an eight-figure business by creating an army of affiliates that market products in collaboration with his team.
There are numerous repositories to source affiliate products and services from. However, some of the biggest are sites like Clickbank, Commission Junction, LinkShare and JVZoo. You’ll need to go through an application process, for the most part, to get approved to sell certain products, services or digital information products. Once approved, be prepared to hustle.
#6 — Email Marketing
For those that are not in the know, email marketing is a substantial money generator. In fact, email marketing can far outstrip standard website sales because, at least for unknown brands or websites that are not household names, clinching a sale on the first interaction often doesn’t happen.
That’s why seasoned online marketers build squeeze pages with lead magnets, webinars and sales funnels to drip-deliver value and build a close personal relationship with their email subscribers, effectively moving them up a value chain to sell them high-ticket products and services.
If you have a website or a blog, be sure that you create a lead magnet or give something else of value away for free such as a trial software to a SaaS system or anything else for that matter that people could get value out of. Exchange your free offer for the email address and drop them into your sales funnel.
Use an email marketing system like InfusionSoft, ConvertKit or MailChimp, amongst others, to drip-feed value to those subscribers while also working to move them up your value chain. Russell Bruson does a great job of explaining sales funnels and marketing virtually anything on the internet is his best-selling book, Dot Com Secrets.
#7 — Influencer Marketing
Using influencers to market your products or services is a great way to quickly saturate yourself into the marketplace, no matter what you’re peddling. However, finding the right influencer at the right price is the hard part. You don’t necessarily have to go to the top-tier influencers; you can also opt for micro-influencers (those that have 10,000 to 100,000 followers or fans).
Some influencers charge a hefty sum for a simple post on platforms like Twitter and Instagram. You can expect to pay upwards of a million dollars and more for some of the top-tier influencers. If you’re looking for mid-level influencers, you’ll likely get away with paying roughly a couple hundred-thousand dollars and up.
The really important part of influencer marketing is to find influencers that are in your niche. Be sure that they represent your target demographic audience before deciding to part ways with your hard-earned cash. It can get incredibly costly, but it can also bring you instant attention and business.
#8 — Blogging
Blogging is one of the best forms of marketing online. It’s free and it gives you a platform to build a massive audience as long as you don’t give up. While starting a blog is relatively easy, actually following through and growing the blog is nothing short of downright frustrating and seemingly impossible.
However, some of the world’s top-earning blogs gross millions of dollars per month on autopilot. It’s a great source of passive income and if you know what you’re doing, you could earn a substantial living from it. You don’t need millions of visitors per month to rake in the cash, but you do need to connect with your audience and have clarity in your voice.
#9 — Video Marketing
Video marketing is a great avenue for exposure on the internet, and utilizing a platform like YouTube to deliver value in the form of tutorials and other useful information such as courses or entertainment is a great way to grow your brand and build a presence.
While there are several platforms for doing this, clearly YouTube is the most popular for doing this. However, video marketing is also a great form of both content marketing and SEO on its own. It can help to provide visibility for several different ventures, and if the video is valuable enough in its message and content, it will be shared and liked by droves, pushing up the authority of that video through the roof.
#10 — Content Marketing
Content marketing is one of my favorite go-to strategies when it comes to marketing on the web. It’s my favorite because it’s one of the most powerful, free and organic methods that are available for online marketers no matter where they’re from. However, marketing content is difficult. So be prepared to put in the sweat equity.
My favorite style in this is article marketing. You create anchor content on your website or blog, then you build authority-content links to that content, effectively driving up the visibility. I’ve used this single strategy to rank hundreds of keywords in the #1 spot on Google, and I would highly recommend that if you’re going to learn any marketing strategy, that you get really good at this one.
The type of content you can market is wide open. Aside from articles, you can use infographics, tutorials, ebooks and many other forms of content marketing. As long as it’s done the right way, and it isn’t intentionally setup to trick or fool search engines, but rather to add value to human beings, you’ll see immense results from this.
R.L. Adams is a software engineer, serial entrepreneur, and author. He runs a wildly-popular blog called Wanderlust Worker and contributes to Entrepreneur, Engadget and the Huffington Post.[“Source-forbes”]