Of all the factors that can influence your rank in organic search results today, believe it or not, one of the most overlooked aspects of SEO is often the use of paid marketing tactics. At present, there appears to be a stigma in the SEO industry and across the open web, in which many believe that paid marketing efforts have no direct effect on ranking at all. While I would agree this is partially true, it's actually the indirect aspects of your digital marketing strategies that can truly influence whether or not those paid efforts actually show positive results across standard search engines, like Google and Bing. The problem is often many fail to comprehend what those aspects are, and they end up wasting a lot of time and money in the process. Here I'm going to dive head first into the indirect aspects of paid marketing, how they can affect your rank, and how they can help you to make those paid promotional efforts worthwhile.
For starters, marketers like to go where the traffic is, and today social media has become a growing hot spot for advertising new products, services, and content for brands and publishers across the web. Unfortunately, when it comes to gaining visibility, in some cases you have to pay to play, as is the case with social networks like Facebook, where brand pages are lucky to see visibility in the ranges of 1% to 2.3% if they're really lucky. Given the declining reach of networks like Facebook and Linkedin, brands, bloggers, and others are starting to feel more compelled to give paid efforts a chance, but often they see no results, and their money ends up being totally wasted.
How Paid Marketing Can Extend Your Reach:
So, what are those indirect aspects I mentioned earlier? They're the aspects such as the quality of the content, products, or services, that you're promoting; along with others, such as reputation and popularity, that can have a strong influence on the outcomes of your paid promotional efforts.
What you need to understand is that, regardless of what you're promoting, you need the audiences you market too to take genuine interest in the message you're portraying, otherwise your efforts are squarely down the drain. The more interest your concept gathers from the public, the more likely it is to rank. This is why some will see hugely positive results from their paid promotional efforts, while others will nearly see an empty wallet and zero results.
Let's look at a scenario that we'll use as an example of the point I'm trying to make. Let's say you're a new brand, blogger, etc, no one has ever heard of you before, and somehow you managed to dump your post out in front of 10 million people across social networks. Now, does this mean anyone actually cares for the message you portrayed? Simply put, definitely not. What content creators and marketers across the web need to understand is that, it's up to the audience who ingests your ideas to decide what value if any they hold.
Paid marketing efforts by trusted, reputable, and popular brands most often see good results from their efforts, and not without cause. The way search engines like Google see it is that if you're promoting something that's useful to users, and it's something that's already popular, then it should rank higher. Another reason search engines will rank brands who use paid efforts higher is because it shows you have faith in your brand, idea, etc, and you're willing to make an effort to gain a new audience and grow into something larger. Search engines will also give credit to promotional efforts as a whole, as let's face it, even if you're paying for visibility, putting together and executing quality marketing plans requires a lot of effort, and the way search giants like Google see it, those who make stronger efforts deserve better visibility. Either way, paid promotional efforts are a metric of good faith and stability in the eyes of major search giants.
After all, how can you expect search engines to put faith in your cause if you show no faith in it yourself?
Paid promotions also mean better visibility on the open web. It definitely extends your reach, which undoubtedly is a ranking factor with Google today. For instance, when ebay stopped paying Google for advertising, their rank plummeted! It wasn't because they weren't paying Google anymore as ebay adamantly claimed, but rather because their reach had dropped as a result of the loss in visibility.
Weighing The Costs of Paid Digital Promotion:
Regardless of which route you take to promote your content on the web, there's going to be costs involved, and those costs will vary depending on the paid platforms you make use of. I can honestly say from experience that the costs of marketing content on Facebook are relatively cheap as compared to some other networks like Linkedin or Twitter, but all have the ability to show good results later on in rankings.
You can boost posts on Facebook to a few thousand people usually for just a few dollars. With other networks like Twitter the costs can really go up, and it's more likely you'll be paying a few dollars per click or more. For most publishers of content on the web, this cost is hardly feasible, especially with publishers earning less and less on a revenue per measure basis. Since the beginning of 2016, cost per measure ads are disappearing at an alarming rate, due much in part to a still struggling world economy, and with companies large and small cutting their marketing budgets across the board, the cost per click of the typical ad has continued to plummet as well.
For web publishers, they really need to weigh the costs of paid promotion, as the average site is earning about $2 to $5 for a thousand page impressions at present, and paying a few bucks for a single click isn't going to convert for them. That being said, when it comes to promoting content, paid efforts should only be used with the intentions of building a name for your brand, or gaining more visibility, but don't expect an ROI from it initially, it's just not going to happen.
Again, it's the indirect aspects of those paid efforts that can and often do pay off over time. While a blogger or major publisher may not see an ROI from their promotional efforts early on, and they should expect to lose money initially, they also have the benefit of having more visibility and reach over the long term, and any publisher of quality content will be more than likely to rank higher as a result.
I've personally seen one of my brands, Gamers Bay, a gaming news organization gain a lot of traction after paid marketing efforts on Facebook. Search engines like Google will try and crawl social networks as much as they can, or that they're allowed too for that matter. After several months of paid efforts on Gamers Bay back in 2014 and early 2015, our brand's rank on Google Plus skyrocketed, and Google would often put our posts out in front of tens of thousands of people the content was relevant too, that by the way did not follow us, and had no idea who we were.
Also, many marketers are placing their bets on blogs and publishers right now, even over social promotion, and it's because ads that are relevant to content are often more likely to convert and provide a good ROI. Although, with social marketing gaining the attention of users isn't so easy, and it's because there's truly a lot of noise on the social web. Logging into any social network and users are met with messages and calls to action galore!
It's much easier to gain the attention of users on a page that already has their attention to begin with, since it's narrowed down to one subject, vs. the typical social media page, in which post after post of often many subjects stream out onto the screen as users scroll, and no single person can give their attention to everything at once. Either way, regardless of your preferences, whether being promoted posts on social media, or the use of platforms like Adwords, the principals remain the same, as paid efforts can spell better positioning in SERPS.
All being said, paid marketing not only shows good faith and stability in the eyes of search engines, but it extends your reach, and all these factors help equate to better ranking over the long term. What people should be concerned about the most isn't so much the costs, but whether or not the ideas they're marketing are going to resonate with users. So, losing a little money right now in hopes of ranking higher later isn't such a bad bet after all.
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