When you run a small business or work as a freelancer, one of the challenges is how to develop an affordable and effective marketing strategy.
In my experience, people often think about email marketing, social media marketing, advertising or even print marketing, but forget that SEO is a marketing tool too. Indeed, SEO can be the most powerful marketing tool small businesses have at their disposal!
Most businesses need to use a mix of marketing methods to create a successful marketing strategy. Personally, I’ve found that a mix of social media, email marketing and SEO works best for SEO+.
As you might expect, SEO is the backbone of my marketing but not just because I run an SEO business! It has a whole host of benefits that we’ll be looking at below, as well as exploring how SEO stacks up against other marketing approaches.
Hopefully, this will help you to decide what might work best for your business, and what you can realistically commit to in terms of time and budget.
SEO vs Social Media Marketing
SEO and social media are both inbound marketing tools that can help bring potential customers to your website, as well as raise brand awareness.
Where they differ is their purpose.
SEO is about meeting people at the point when a need or want drives them to make a search on Google. It’s about targeting the audience your business can best serve and letting them know that you offer the thing that’s going to improve their life in some way.
In addition, a good SEO strategy should help your content to be more visible in searches and rank higher on search result pages.
SEO can help your business to be seen by people who have never heard of it before but are actively searching for what you sell – your all-important ideal customers.
Social media is more about community building and building relationships with your potential and existing customers. You can use it to help find and understand your target audience and to keep them engaged with your business once you’ve found them. As people may hear about your business through their personal networks, this can add a sense of trust that your content comes recommended by a friend.
Many people who find your business on social media may not be ready to buy straight away – or to repeat their purchase – but connecting with them via social channels can be a great way to stay front of mind for when they are ready to buy.
I also think social media marketing is one of the most effective ways to communicate the personality of your brand.
That being said, SEO shares this benefit. Every new piece of content on your website or meta description for a page is an opportunity to show customers who you are as a business.
Where SEO shines against social media marketing
One major downside of social media marketing is that you’re creating content for use in a space you can’t control.
In theory, any one of the social media companies could decide to temporarily or permanently ban you from accessing the group or page you’ve worked so hard to build. This can be due to a change in rules or some form of infringement.
As you won’t have contact details for your social media followers, being banned from a page or group means you could suddenly be cut off from your audience. Although bans are sometimes temporary, the loss could be permanent.
Certainly, you should never focus all of your marketing efforts on one social media platform.
Your website, on the other hand, is the one place on the internet dedicated exclusively to your business without any competitors or distractions to dilute the message. You can put your ideal customers centre stage, communicate with a clear voice, and use SEO to lead the way.
Better still, you have complete control over the content, meaning you can tailor it to give your ideal clients exactly what they want or need. And because you control your own website, you shouldn’t face the risk of being locked out of it in the future.
In addition, if you use SEO to bring people to your website, you can use strategies such as offering a free lead magnet to capture your visitors’ contact details and build a mailing list.
SEO vs email marketing
Speaking of mailing lists, email has a vital role to play in most marketing strategies.
SEO is all about helping you and your potential customers meet for the first time.
Email marketing is about building the relationship once that first introduction has gone well.
Ultimately, website visitors only have value to your business if they make a purchase or connect with you in a way that will enable you to reach out to them in the future. This is why SEO that targets your ideal customer is so important – it’s not about bringing in the biggest number of website visitors, it’s about reaching the people who are most likely to turn into customers (i.e., people who are actively looking for what you sell).
Once SEO has brought those high-quality visitors to your website, you need to secure their permission to stay in touch. There are multiple ways to do this – newsletter subscriptions, free lead magnets, low-price offers, or tutorials people sign up to view are just a few examples.
With that initial permission secured, email marketing can help relationships with potential, existing and past customers to soar.
I personally believe that SEO and email marketing make the perfect partnership, a dynamic duo of instant attraction and then ongoing nurturing!
And the two marketing approaches inform one another. As you discover the keywords that attract the most searches and why people are looking for your business, you’ll be able to fine-tune your emails with that knowledge.
Equally, as your emails gain traction, it should help you to understand the people you want to reach via searches.
SEO vs online ads
You may be trying to decide whether online ads (e.g. pay per click (PPC) Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, etc.) would be a better investment for your business than SEO.
It’s not necessarily an either/or choice.
Yes, SEO and online ads are both about reaching new customers and driving traffic to your website, but they have other purposes too and can fulfil different functions in your marketing strategy.
Online/PPC ads can be fantastic for giving your business high visibility for a specific keyword over a short period of time. This helps you to reach customers quickly and to promote specific campaigns, which can be refined quickly.
If your goal is to drive traffic to your site in the short term for a special offer, launch or limited edition, then you might want to use online ads. You can think beyond Google too, using social media advertising to reach potential customers if that’s a better fit.
With PPC advertising, you bid on keywords for a chance to show up in searches made by your ideal customers. The more competitive the keywords, the more you will pay per click. You’ll be charged each time someone clicks through to your site or makes a call to your business via the paid-for ad.
Online ads require careful monitoring to get the most mileage from your budget.
SEO, on the other hand, is about long-term gains. With the right SEO strategy, you should find that pages from your website start to appear higher up the rankings for a greater number of search terms.
In turn, this should lead to more website visitors, more sales, more profits and a boost to your business reputation. PPC ads may struggle to achieve this long-term but can give a rapid injection of activity.
If you want to enhance your business’s online presence in the long run, then I think SEO is your answer.
Other reasons why SEO is your most powerful marketing tool
For me, one of the most compelling reasons to prioritise SEO as a marketing tool is that it champions your website – a place exclusively dedicated to your business that works 24/7.
Get the SEO right and you should be able to attract perfect-fit customers to your business – people who haven’t even heard about you yet! – while you sleep, go on holiday, or work on other parts of your business. And, if you want to reach them, those people could live in a completely different time zone.
How amazing would that be? To see sales and enquiries coming in, day and night, even when you’re not actively working.
Google is the most visited website in the world. Not a second goes by that Google doesn’t have about 40,000 search queries to process. This means that globally, Google processes more than 3.7 billion searches every day, and 1.2 trillion searches every year. (Source: Internet Live Stats)
Every day, billions of users rely on Google to conduct their daily searches. These billions of users include people looking for what you offer – your products, your services, your information.
SEO is the difference between whether they find you or they find your competitors.
Want to make your business more visible in searches but don’t know where to start? Take a look at these 10 SEO actions you can take today.
If you would like this year to be the year you FINALLY get SEO to work for you so that your business flourishes and would like to explore how you can work with me, send me a message or book a call and we can have a conversation about where you’re at, where you’d like to be, and how I can help you to achieve that.
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Hazel Jarrett, director of SEO at SEO+, is well-known in the SEO space, has won many awards during her 20-year career and has been published on various well-known sites. Through her services and training programs, her SEO strategies have generated 10s of millions of sales for her clients, earning her a big reputation for delivering the results that matter.
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