Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Small Companies Need Online Marketing

By Jacob Alcoveston

Online marketing programs can sometimes seem complicated, and it can sometimes be hard to figure out the precise correlation between investment and return. For that reason, most of the money spent on online marketing over the years has been spent by large companies with big marketing budgets. However, it's now as important for a small coffee shop on Phinney Ridge to talk to a local Seattle SEO firm as it is for a major brand to operate an online marketing division.

For a long time, a company's website was its online advertising, and companies spent a bundle on building good websites. Those websites used tags to identify them, and for the independent coffee shop on Phinney Ridge those tags would include keywords like "coffee," "shop," and "Phinney Ridge." When someone wanted to find a coffee place in that neighborhood, they'd look it up, see the website, and head down for a nice hot cup of coffee.

There were a number of advertising methods to drive additional traffic to a Website, of which banner ads were the most common. The cumulative investment made by small businesses was significant, but by far the deepest pockets in online advertising were still the big companies. The vast majority of their budgets were still reserved for traditional advertising, but it was a big enough pie that the small slice they spent online represented a lot of money, especially in a culture where most of the money was invested rather than earned.

Small slices of very big marketing budgets added up to enough money to drive innovation, and over time the marketing engines in operation online have become increasingly sophisticated and effective. Search engines have changed how they cull results, searching for keyword links instead of the keywords that were traditionally added by Webmasters, and that gave birth to search engine optimization, or SEO, which is essentially manufacturing links in order to drive traffic.

Large companies were the first to try SEO after some mavericks had demonstrated its effectiveness, and because it's so effective most large companies have teams devoted to SEO activities today. With their deep pockets, they are driving strategic online marketing forward, providing a significant advantage to their brands and making life far more complicated for small independent businesses as they do.

The thing with greed is that it always eats more than it can handle. After a dedicated SEO department has achieved dominance in all the keywords most relevant to its company's business, it will expand to other related keywords, even if they aren't as relevant to their business, just to drive traffic.

Before, a small coffee shop in Phinney Ridge was only competing with one or two other coffee joints. That's no longer true. In the all-important keyword competition, it's also up against large companies, such as major coffee brands and huge online retailers. If they aren't aggressive in pursuing SEO strategies themselves their rank will fall, they will lose web traffic, and they will sell less coffee.

While large companies were probably the first clients at most Seattle SEO companies, any small business that isn't pursuing a SEO strategy itself runs the risk of failure. When a company disappears from the first page of results on its most relevant keywords, it may as well not exist anymore..

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Small Companies Need Online Marketing

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