There are many different methods of marketing your business website, on-line shop or e-commerce website, but for many business owners there seems to be a bit of confusion between what is considered generic back link building and what is a true social marketing campaign, and more to the point what is the aim of each marketing strategy?
Different SEO and web marketing companies will of course employ different methodologies to promote a site and more often than not you get what you pay for so to speak. Equally there is bound to be a crossover in campaign strategies the debate of which could go on for months, but the purpose of this article is to highlight the key differences and aims of each type of campaign not what any single campaign should contain.
Generic Search Engine Marketing
Typically the aim of a generic search engine marketing campaign (SEM) is to develop relevant and targeted anchor text back links to specific pages on your website to increase your site’s link profile and authority in the eyes
of the search engines.
This of course is all aimed at improving your website ranking and to ensure your website becomes “known” in the search engines for the particular key phrases you are most interested in ranking for.
Low level or cheap link building services often include article marketing, content distribution and directory submissions, although most professional SEO practioners will probably dismiss directory submissions as the quality of these links is generally very poor at best and sometimes dubious also.
Low level or cheap link building services can also take advantage of what have become known as social websites; typically these are in the form of blogs and other Web 2.0 properties and even low level social bookmarking sites. Forum posting just for the sake of links would also fall under this category.
The quality of budget link building services can vary wildly but they are not to be sneezed at though, as in many cases especially in less competitive or tight niches, they can prove to be very effective indeed and are often all that is needed to rank a site well.
Social Marketing Campaigns
Social marketing campaigns are quite different to generic search engine marketing campaigns although there can be a degree of crossover in many cases. A true social marketing campaign is much more focussed to generating leads and brand awareness as well as meeting the targeted marketplace in its own backyard.
A social marketing campaign however is also generally considered to be much further up the evolutionary tree of link building so to speak and while it will still develop and reward you with good quality back links to your site, social marketing campaigns are generally of much higher quality in both their make up and also can require a significant amount of planning and preparation.
Typically social marketing campaigns will take advantage of prime and highly focussed Web 2.0 properties and business networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Ecademy and so on, as well as other complementary web sites and social bookmarking sites such as StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit and Del.icio.us to name but a few.
The aim of a good social marketing campaign is not to specifically develop back links per se (although this is bound to happen) but to develop either brand or business awareness in a defined market place where the products or services you or your company supply will or could be in demand.
It is also to establish you or your company as an industry authority, go to person or trusted advisor, or even a business that can help other people solve their own problems or critical business issues by the provision of quality goods and services.
The Downside of Social Marketing Campaigns
While the advantages of a social marketing campaign are undeniable, there are a number of downsides which it pays to be acutely aware of.
The main downside of social marketing campaigns is the sheer amount of time and work that needs to be maintained to develop a business’s authority or profile across many sites.
These types of campaigns are very hands-on and involve ongoing social networking and subtle promotion of a business or brand as well as the generation of useful/helpful relevant content either for general publication or for posting on your own site as quality information pages or blog posts, or as donated content for other complementary sites that are not in direct competition to your own.
It may be for example that you want to develop a profile on forums relevant to the markets you are trying to penetrate by posting quality useful help and advice (not just a link post), but if not kept up-to-date or live these profiles can quickly lose ground and your on-line identity will fade.
Most businesses pursuing social marketing campaigns as an ongoing strategy will be spending at least 10-20 hours plus a week in one form or another and although this can be outsourced (often at considerable cost), typically this is done in-house by either the business owner or the marketing person, primarily because the business has the internal product or service expertise to maintain a long term focus and generate quality content.
What Is Right For Your Business?
The correct or most successful strategy required for each business will vary tremendously which is why most SEO professionals will not even conduct a web marketing campaign
without some form of initial consultancy or competitive market assessment.
If time is not one of your assets or your budget is tight, then a generic link building campaign may be all that is affordable to you, but if you are in a competitive market and serious about your on-line business then it simply does not make good business sense to second guess your requirements.
Bite the bullet and employ the services of an SEO consultant even if only for initial consultancy as the advice you receive more often than not will be highly beneficial to the success of your on-line venture.