There are three main ways to promote your website on the Internet: Social Media, Pay-per-click, and off-page SEO. Each of these methods has it's own strengths and weaknesses. Understanding how they work will help you put together an Internet marketing plan that will work for your business without straining your budget or your time. Read on for some pros and cons of each.
Social Media Pros:
First, it's FREE! That's a big plus, right? Second, it's easy, pretty much anyone can do it, even from a phone. It's great for spreading brand recognition and building brand loyalty. Another really great thing about it is Social Media sites usually rank well in Google so, if you have pages on these sites, they can act as a funnel bringing new visitors to your site.
Social Media Cons:
The biggest problem with Social Media, though, is for some people it can be addictive! At first, they may have trouble finding things to say, then, it's hard for them to remember to stop talking. I know! It happened to me. For other people, it can be very time consuming, making sure all the right posts went to the right sites at the right time can stress anyone out. Also, Social Media doesn't usually favor posts selling products.
Pay-per-click ads (Google AdWords, Facebook and others) offer a fast solution to bringing visitors to a site. You could have thousands of visitors overnight. If you have everything set up to sell them a product right then and there, great! If you want them to wait until tomorrow during business hours to call you and talk about a service you provide, not so great.
Once the money you budgeted is gone, you have no lasting effect. It doesn't increase your search engine ranking permanently. But, if you made a killing on the trendy new boots you sold, your goal was achieved!
Off-page SEO Pros:
Off-page SEO (blog posts, directory listings, press releases, backlinks, etc.) builds lasting page rank. This means your site will be closer to the top on searches.
Off-page SEO Cons:
Improving your off-page SEO is one of the best things you can do to permanently build the value of your website, but it is one of the hardest things to carry out for most site owners. Taking time to contact sites and asking for links, searching out valuable directories, thinking of things to write about for blog posts and press releases, these all seem to get put off or forgotten. You can pay to have it done for you, but that can be expensive.
So what's the answer?
The best advice, no matter what your business, is to use a mix of methods that stays within your comfort level and budget, using each one to it's best advantage. Start small, and build as your expertise and budget grows.
For example, if you own a small retail shop, you might do a Facebook page and a Pinterest page, posting regularly about new styles and trends. Put up "like us on Facebook" stickers in your store and add the address to your receipts and printed advertising. If you have new products to announce, seasonal sales, or special events to promote, spend a little on pay-per-click ads to snag those buyers. With the right ads and the right budget, you can target any audience you need.
On the other hand, if you are a service oriented business, consider a YouTube page and a Facebook page. Make short "how-to" videos and cross post them to facebook. Build a "we are here to help" community that will keep your brand top of mind. If you have a speaking engagement, consider a local pay-per-click campaign to spread the word.
Both businesses would benefit by spending some money on off-page SEO each year, but write your own content if at all possible. Concentrate on blog posts, press releases and backlinks.