You’re spending money marketing online, but just not seeing results. Why do you keep paying? There are many low-quality marketing services out there. We’re not here to pretend we know about other true SEO companies. Rather, we’re going to discuss advertising services, companies and directories that sell SEO or marketing services, and online marketing firms that say they do SEO.
What Makes a Campaign?
First, let’s just cover a few basic pieces of an effective marketing campaign. Let’s start with the most foundational: analytics. With a quality marketing campaign, you should be able to know exactly what you’re getting for your money. From tracking phone calls to seeing increases in traffic, you need to be able to see what your campaign is achieving.
Second, your campaign should be targeted. In general, you need to market your brand to those that are most likely to convert to paying clients or refer paying clients. For example, if you’re an addiction treatment facility, you probably don’t want to target people interested in meteorology. Of course anyone may need help with an addiction, but it’d be better to target people who are looking for help!
Third, you need goals. This may sound a little bit like a self-help seminar now, but it’s an important piece of a marketing campaign. What is your goal? Of course it is to increase business, but let’s take steps back and look at what it takes to get there. Do you have goals for traffic (organic, social, direct), phone calls, email inquiries, and growth rates?
Finally, an effective marketing campaign should be flexible. That is, if something is not working well, you should be able to change tactics. If one ad is doing significantly better than another, it’s helpful to be able to decrease your spend on the ad that isn’t converting. In SEO, we do this by changing the terms we’re going after, altering how we rank for the term, and how the landing pages convert.
Now, let’s jump into the three online marketing techniques that can be incredibly fruitful, or a complete waste of money.
Paid advertising is something you’ve likely tried in some form. Maybe it’s search ads, print ads, or advertising on other independent websites. This can be an effective marketing tactic, but we also can find ourselves throwing money down the drain.
This actually makes us sad to see. People advertise on Google without targeting the right keywords, spending money without seeing any conversions. With Google, you’re going up agains the big spenders, so it can be hard to compete. Without a highly-targeted campaign run by experts in PPC advertising, people often end up without results.
On the other hand, there are sites like Yelp and YellowPages. Let us just start by saying that if you’re paying to advertise on YP.com, stop. It’s expensive, and essentially useless. It’s a way in which they make money by offering sponsored listing and some additional services, but it’s possibly the least-effective spend of money in an online marketing campaign.
You also may try advertising on industry-related websites. Maybe you take an ad out on a blog or big website. Although these can be effective and targeted, you’re likely to never really know what the benefits are. You spend without actually knowing what it’s bringing you in return.
So let’s return to the four points we started with and look at the ones where we see the most errors in paid avertising: analyzing data and targeting users. In an effective advertising campaign, you can track what your ad spend is bringing you. If you’re driving people to your website, one of the best ways to do this is by tracking through UTM codes.
This means adding something (usually ?src=sourcename) at the end of your URL to track specific traffic sources in your analytics. For example, instead of www.MindfulMktg.com/now, you’d set the ad to link to www.MindfulMktg.com/now/?src=PPCad. In Google Analytics, you can now see how many people landed on your page from clicking your ad, and the user is shown the page as normal.
As far as targeting, you need to be sure you’re targeting the right users. If your ad isn’t converting, it may be because you’re showing it to people who aren’t interested in what you’re offering. Have you done your research? Is your advertisement location right, and are the users of the site looking for what you’re offering? Don’t go at it blindly. Advertising to the wrong people is one of the biggest mistakes we see.
Sites like Google and Facebook offer flexibility. You can change your target audience, the content of your advertisements, and the URLs with relative ease. There are also highly-effective advertising methods that may be more effective such as podcast sponsorship and influencer marketing.
Another thing to consider is if you’re sending people to the right page. Depending on your goals, you may or may not want to send people to a sales page. For example, we send many people to our post on 5 Things You Need to Know to Effectively Market Your Treatment Center Online instead of our page on our addiction treatment marketing. You have to know your audience, track conversions, and see what is the most effective method.
The biggest general mistake made with paid advertising is that people don’t think it through. They see what looks like a good opportunity and spend the money without investigating it.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO is one of the most valuable marketing techniques. Of course it’s changed and will continue to change, but it’s still completely possible to gain serious traffic from search engines. However, many companies or sites offer SEO services that don’t seem to be doing much. The question here is if your SEO efforts are actually leading to an increase in business or not.
“SEO” Companies & Services
As a company that primarily focuses on search engine optimization, this one is pretty upsetting to us. There are really two types of violators here: marketing companies that don’t really do SEO and other sites that offer an extra SEO service. These are often directories, either related to your niche or in a more general sense (like YP.com)
We will start with a real-life situation we have come across multiple times. You’re using a marketing company that has helped handle all kinds of things from web design to blog posting. You’re also paying them for SEO services and have been doing so for six months. However, you’re not actually showing up in search results for any terms that are leading to conversions.
When you try to dig in to what they’re doing, you may be met with an explanation of all they’re doing for your SEO and it may sound great. However, the problem here is that none of it matters if it doesn’t end up producing results. Posting regular blogs, optimizing pages for search engines, or posting to social media is good, but it’s not going to get you to page one! And as we’ve talked about before, page one gets almost all of the clicks.
There are many sites out there, whether they’re industry-related directories or bigger pages like Yelp or YP that offer SEO services. You sign up for a free or cheap listing, and they offer you some marketing services for an additional price. These may sound good, but what are you really getting for your money? Often they’ll offer you a few extra links, an extra-SEO-friendly listing, or the opportunity to write blog posts with links back to your facility. Sounds good, right?
At best, maybe. Generally speaking, you’re paying for a link from a site with dozens and dozens of outbound links. This means that the weight of your link is negligible. Yes, it’s a link from a site that is either high-authority or highly relevant, and that’s great. However, it’s generally not worth paying more than a few bucks for. If you’re doing this, and you don’t have a massive marketing budget, stop. In general, just stop. Your money could be used much more wisely!
What happens with these paid services is you’re getting “SEO” from a company who doesn’t really do SEO. Rather, they’re a directory or website who has something they know is worth some money (a backlink), and are trying to make more money. Although it is of use to you and your site, most true SEO companies can get you stronger links that will help your SEO more for much less.
A real SEO company will produce results that you can see. Yes, we all know that SEO doesn’t work immediately. It takes time for Google to pick up changes, for content to be created, and to brand your name and website. Like other marketing efforts though, you should see some gains from your investment. We recently shared real data from our clients in a post just a few weeks ago. With a true SEO company, you should see ranking climbs, traffic increases, and more calls.
Here are some real pieces of data from clients of ours, including rankings in search results and phone calls from Google Local listings:
With an SEO campaign, you should be seeing climbs like this! Why pay for something you can see being beneficial after months? Good SEO campaigns incorporate creating some killer content, securing high-quality links, and so much more. Branding has become essential, as has social media. A real SEO campaign is a complex and dynamic beast, but your marketing company should keep you in the loop.
The last one is directories. There are many directories out there. Perhaps some are related to your business industry, while others are general or specific to your geographic area. We see many business owners shelling some serious money out to secure paid listings on these sites, not realizing that they are throwing their money away!
Paid Directory Listings
We’ve done enough bashing on YP, so let’s leave them alone for now. Let’s talk about directories like Limey Search, which is a British directory. You can check it out at http://www.limeysearch.co.uk/, but you may be familiar with the format. They offer a relatively low price for you to list your business or organization. It may be a monthly fee, an annual fee, or a one-time payment.
Again, yes, this is a link. However, this is a link that will likely mean nothing good for your SEO efforts. Let’s say it is the best-possible link that you’re securing. Perhaps it is a super relevant site to your industry and high-authority. Even so, it’s likely that the site lists dozens, hundreds, or thousands of other sites. Again, this amount of outbound links takes link juice away from your link.
Furthermore, Google likely knows that you just paid to get a link there. Here is an old article where Google publicly states that links that are paid for are considered part of a link scheme, and therefore not valuable. In the name of transparency, almost every SEO company will pay for a link from time to time. However, these are generally links in which you’re guest posting on someone’s blog and paying for their time to post it, or something much less cut-and-dry. The point is, that if Google can clearly see that a site charges for links, your link is likely to be of no value.
Effective Use of Directories
Of course, there is more to this story, as there often is with online marketing. There are valuable directories out there. For example, if you’re a therapist, you want to be listed in Psychology Today’s directory. We can use directories intelligently and with some wisdom rather than going at it without discernment.
My recommendation, first of all, is to not ever pay for a directory listing without asking a marketing professional. You can always email me at Matthew@MindfulMktg.com any time and I’m happy to let you know my thoughts on a directory you’re looking at. In general, go with directories you’ve heard of (like Yelp or YellowPages) and directories that are industry-specific (like Psychology Today for therapists).
Going back to the points we started the post with, a well-placed directory listing costs nothing, brings traffic, and will be changeable.
These are just a few of our thoughts on this issue. We’re always open to looking at your current campaigns and give suggestions. If you have a question about anything, don’t hesitate to reach out below!