I recently read a post on Google+ where a supposed seasoned SEO and Marketing strategist claimed that small businesses probably cannot afford to hire an SEO specialist based on their smaller budgets (no names). They also claimed that it takes “real money to displace real money”, and that a person who spends less on marketing and SEO efforts won’t be able to compete with someone who spends a lot more and has spent several years on their efforts. I couldn’t disagree with this more! Actually, you can market just about anything online for no money at all as long as you know the right way to go about it, and marketing a product, service, or content online, and or hiring a search engine optimization specialist is definitely not the first place I would ever focus my business efforts. I’d like to think that developing the product first would make more sense, and I’m going to explain why!
Quality Products, Services, and Content Market Themselves!
That’s right, quality content literally sells itself! Today too much emphasis is put on marketing efforts, and not enough is given to the actual products people are trying to sell. Focus on developing a starting product first. After all, if you have no product to begin with, then what’s the point of marketing anyway? You see, people will naturally share content online using social media if they really like it. If people like your product, service, or content, they will not only share it online, they will naturally tell others about. Simply put, if people like your stuff they will do almost all the marketing for you, with very little effort on your part at all!
Focus on Your Content and Connect with Users!
For instance, instead of focusing on marketing efforts, I focus on my content, how people interact with my content, and what they think about it. It pays to pay attention to your users! Once you have a developed product in place, then it’s time to focus on sharing that content with others, while paying attention to their feedback, which will give you the power to understand what they like or dislike about that product so you can make it better! This is exactly what I’ve done with this very website, and all my business efforts online! Regardless of whether you’re selling a product or service, or you have developed an informational website in which you want to earn revenue from Advertising, you still need to give users a way to connect with you, and to share your content with others. One way to do this is to incorporate the use of social sharing buttons on your website in which others can share your content to social networks of their choosing. It’s best to place social sharing buttons towards the top of the page and as close to your written article or content as possible. My placement of social sharing buttons on this site is not optimal, but it still works.
Get involved in social media! This where the free marketing comes into play. Use social networks to showcase your content. This doesn’t mean plastering and sharing Advertisements about your products or services either. If you are selling something, then you should create a blog on your website and write about the stuff that interests you, and how it relates to that product or service. People prefer to purchase products and services from people who are knowledgeable about them, and show real genuine interest in them. If you don’t take any interest in your product or service, then why should anyone else? It will show in your writing, you cannot hide it! That being said, you are more likely to be successful in a business where you are doing something that you actually enjoy, it will drive your business efforts over the long term.
Make use of Google+! If you’re not on Google+ then you’re clearly missing out. Get involved in discussions on social media sites like Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. With Google+ you can take advantage of their “Communities” feature in order to connect with people who share your common interests, in turn sharing your blog posts, and this is where you will get the chance to initially identify if people even like your product or content altogether. With G+ there’s a community for just about anything you can think of. You can use those social sharing buttons you put on your site to help gage whether or not people find your blog posts or products to be informative and useful. If you aren’t getting shares and no one’s taking interest, then you need to stop, back track and rethink your product or business strategy all over from the beginning. I had to do this myself, it sucks but it's a necessary part of doing business and developing a working product. Product development should be a continuing process in which you work to make your product better.
Honestly, no product does well on the internet or social media right off the bat. You need to pay attention to the people you interact with in discussions, and those who comment on your posts. This information will only help to guide in the development of your product. Oh, wait, but you already developed your product right? Not so fast. Just because you created a product doesn’t mean your work is done yet. Part of the product development process is fine tuning that product to meet the needs of its users, and this process never really ends. As soon as people find your product useful, they will do all the marketing efforts for you! Post your blog posts to the communities on G+ and those in your “Circles”, this helps drives traffic to your website, and it drives your product online. The more you get involved with discussions the better. If you are knowledgeable about the product, service, or content you have developed then people will take you seriously, and others will begin to identify with you as an expert in your field. This adds real credibility to both you and your business! If you aren’t knowledgeable about your product or content, then you should be learning more about it and likewise, probably should not be in business.
Credibility and expertise matters! When I speak online, or even at the local coffee shop, people listen! Why? Because I don’t just talk about what I know, I show it! Simply claiming to be an expert in anything means nothing. If you claim to be an expert, then prove it! Show examples of your work! There’s no credibility in here say. For instance, I claim to write web design tutorials and be a well educated IT specialist, and to show that I know what I’m talking about I developed this entire website, along with several others, and virtually all of their content. So I can run my mouth all day if I like, because I don’t just talk about my knowledge, I show it in my work!
Get Educated! Credentials Matter!
It’s not just what you know, but where you got that know how that matters as well. Having formal education counts a lot in the business world and when it comes to marketing products or services online for that matter as well. If you’re blogging about something, but don’t have any educational credentials, then you’re just making it that much harder for people to take your word for it and believe that what you are saying is true, is actually true. I know, you are rolling your eyes. I am college educated myself, and have 2 technical certifications, yet I’m rolling my eyes with you. It’s a lot of work, but it really panned out in my favor. Education will only help you in the end, and it adds real credibility to yourself and business. It’s been since 2010 that I got my Comp TIA certification’s, they are considered outdated so now I have to start studying to take the new exams. That’s just how it goes, we’re in this together, I feel your pain, lol.
What About SEO? Should I Hire an SEO Specialist?
This depends on a number of factors. For one, the more you know about your business, it’s likely the more successful that business will become in the long term. Hiring an SEO specialist might not be a bad idea if you have a product, service, or content that appears to require a significant amount of your available time. Either way, it pays to learn as much as you can about internet based technologies. The biggest problem when it comes to hiring an SEO specialist or experienced web designer is that many of them don’t know what the heck they are doing, and depending on how they go about dealing with your business online, they could do more damage than good. I would recommend hiring an SEO only if you really need one.
In the end its best to learn as much about internet based technologies as you can, or if you have the funds available, hire an experienced in house staff to cover the aspects of SEO, web design, and marketing online. If you can make sense of these three things, web design, how search engines work (SEO), and how people interact with content online, then there’s no doubt you can market any quality product or services successfully on the internet. Even if you could afford to spend thousands of dollars on paid marketing, that doesn't mean anyone will want your products. Marketing is only useful when it used to promote a quality product that people either want, need, or enjoy to some degree. A product that can't market itself is more likely to fail as well.
Learning all of the above is no easy task, but the more you can do yourself, the more money you will save, and the better the likelihood of your business being successful over the long term. As far as marketing a product online goes? Again, you don’t need to do much marketing, if people like your stuff they will market it for you! If they don’t like it, then go back to the drawing board and start over from scratch. As far as SEO goes, learn it! Either way, to state that a company who pays more for marketing and SEO services is going to be more successful than a company who doesn’t is total quackery! That’s just not true at all. I get tons of traffic to both of my largest websites, and guess who does 99% of my marketing? You guessed, other people on the internet. And, I gave the means to share that content with the use of social sharing buttons. I use sharethis.com’s social buttons for my websites. They work great, are totally free, and solve a major problem when it comes to online marketing, as does the idea of making effective use of social media.