We talk a lot about how to improve your Internet marketing and SEO (search engine optimization) around here at SocialProse. I suppose we take it for granted that having your website be found on search engines is an important component of marketing.
But let’s back it up a bit. Maybe you don’t see it that way
Maybe you’re one of the organizations that have an informational website up for offline leads to browse like an online brochure, but you rely on obtaining leads through other means — word-of-mouth referrals, for example. All that other online stuff is irrelevant to your business model, you might say.
Well, kudos to you if you have a great website, and if you have plastered its URL on every email and printed marketing piece you do! It’s a step in the right direction. This was exactly how websites were being used 15 years ago.
But let me tell you this: Today, a website invisible to the search engines is a story of lost business opportunity. And it’s even deadly.
Marketing is undergoing a monumental shift, and has been for several years now. Traditional offline methods just aren’t working as well anymore, and have given way to inbound methods such as social media, mobile and targeted search.
Limiting your marketing to traditional methods is, well, limiting. Did your potential customers haul out the old phone book and see your listing, or did they search Yelp reviews instead? Did they happen to read the newspaper the day your ad ran, or were they reached by your competitor’s highly targeted online advertising? Did they see your email, or did it go straight into their spam folder? Did they receive your direct mail, or did they see one of their friends “like” a business on Facebook?
Did they actually hear about your business from someone, but your URL name wasn’t intuitive enough for them to find you on Google so they found your competitor instead? Is your website just hanging out there in cyberspace, unconnected to anything, unable to be found by anyone other than the people you already have reached?
You have competitors. I guarantee several of them have decided being found and ranked by the search engines is important. And you know what? They’re the ones getting the click-throughs, the web traffic, and the resulting business leads. They’re making inbound marketing work for them and seeing the results.
The fact is, today’s consumer expects to be able to find anything in a snap, and they are used to using the Internet to do their research. People expect to find you by looking you up on Google or Yahoo!. If your website isn’t listed in top results — or seemingly can’t be found at all — they won’t keep looking for you. They’ll simply patronize the first reputable-looking competitor that does come up on Google.
So tell me: What are you leaving on the table by not optimizing your website and turning it into an active lead generator? Money? Customers?
Lynn Christiansen Esquer is a principal at SocialProse media. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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