Digital marketing is the most effective way to approach your target audience in this day and age. Small business owners have already realized that and more and smaller business owners turn to a digital marketing agency for improving their business’s audience reach. Digital marketing is such a huge term that encompasses a lot of different components – like SEO, PPC, local optimization, social media optimization, and social SEO. As the idea of digital marketing and its components is increasing, the small business owners are focusing more and more on just one or a few components of the digital marketing and not the digital marketing as a whole. Over the last year, I have seen small business owners focusing only on social media optimization, PPC, review optimization, and reputation building. Since SEO takes consistent effort and patience, most digital marketing agencies are focusing their effort on other components of digital marketing and not on SEO. As a result, small business owners are developing a tendency to not focus much on SEO.
I was attending a digital marketing summit a few days ago and I became a part of a very interesting post-meet discussion over dinner. A few business owners and fellow digital marketers were trying to establish the best approach and I heard a few of them saying – ‘SEO is a time-taking thing, better focus on other aspects’. I asked a few of the small business owners about it and the answer I got was quite astonishing. They said that they were able to see results quickly by focusing on paid ads, social media and local review optimization (by getting new positive reviews posted across Yelp, HotFrog, etc.). I asked a business owner, who has been working with a digital agency that has been getting them new social media followers and getting positive reviews across local sites if his sales/inquiries have increased and he said – ‘well, not really but the improvements are clear. I see more visitors to my website and more engagement on social media‘. I was confused/ I don’t think it was an improvement at all.
The aim of digital marketing is to translate prospects into customers. It is not about numbers – number of positive reviews out there, number of followers, number of likes, etc. The one and the only thing that counts is ROI and that is to be achieved only when you convert prospects into customers. This is done by using the language the prospects are using and by answering the questions they are asking. This is only possible by SEO.
When you SEO your website to answer queries that potential customers are searching, you are sure to get their interest and convert them into a customer. Buyers use a two-step process for deciding what company they want to buy from. These processes are, as well call it, the following two –
Search engines are the #1 discovery tool for local businesses and companies. Imagine if you are looking to find a carpet cleaner in Seattle, Washington. Would you go to Facebook and look for Seattle carpet cleaners with good cover-page or just do a Google search for it. Chances are 9/10 people would hit a search engine than any other website. If you are not there where people are looking to find you, you are losing a big deal. Despite having tons of social media followers and reviews on local websites, you are unseen by the clients searching for you just because you ignored SEO and missed out on the Discovery phase.
So when you are focusing more on social media engagement and building your reputation by getting positive reviews on local websites, you are getting ready for the Verification process which is step two for a potential customer. By ignoring SEO, you are cutting off the door that brings potential customers to you in the first place – the Discovery process. Reputation building helps the Verification phase and it is important to convert that potential customer into a client but is not effective on its own without your business being optimized for Discovery. So essentially SEO and other aspects of your digital marketing campaign go hand in hand. You cannot expect to get a good ROI if you invest in digital marketing and not in SEO.