The first step of developing an online presence is to set up a Website. Unfortunately, the Web is an extremely competitive marketplace and simply setting up a Website won’t deliver you any benefits unless people are able to find it. That’s where SEO (search engine optimization) and social media marketing come in.
The Web is like the real world; you can buy property and set up shops. Buying a website domain is like buying property. A popular Website domain is actually more valuable than the most valuable real-world property. Google.com is worth billions of dollars, as is facebook.com. When those companies bought their domain names, they paid $10.
That’s how every new domain starts out. You buy your little piece of internet real estate with the hopes of increasing the value of that real estate. There’s only one factor that determines the value of your real estate: traffic. Traffic is the number of people who visit your website. Google.com and facebook.com receive hundreds of millions of visitors every day. But a new website domain starts out receiving zero visitors every day. And that will never, ever change unless you do several things:
1) Give people a reason to want to visit your site.
2) Make people aware that there’s a reason to visit your site
3) Make people aware that your site exists
Goal #1 is achieved by blogging, writing valuable content (articles, videos, podcasts, ebooks, etc.), offering helpful tips, advice, etc.
Goals #2 and #3 are achieved by SEO and SMM. When someone searching for “dog training” types that into Google and your Website appears at the top of the rankings, they have now become aware that your site exists and that it probably has information relevant to dog training. Thus, there’s a reason to visit your site.
Similarly, SMM taps into wherever your target market is hiding on social channels like facebook, twitter, youtube, etc. and works to not only build awareness, but also to build a community and establish your website as a niche authority.
To put it bluntly, a Website is utterly useless without marketing (SEO/SMM). It’s a waste of money to build a Website and never market it. It would be like setting up shop on an abandoned island and then hoping to get visitors and making sales.
So if you do decide to continue exploring the online world as a marketing/sales channel, then you need to understand that it’s not a one-time shot. It’s a continual process. The only usefulness that a Website with no marketing has is if you give people the specific link to your website. With this method, you’ll never reach any new customers because your website will still be on an abandoned island, unable to be found unless you specifically give people the “map” to it. Obviously, this is a very slow and tedious way to make sales, build your brand, or achieve whatever your goal is for your online business.
SEO is like building up equity in a property. In fact, I like to call it “Google equity” because it’s a continual process of proving to Google (and the other search engines) that your website is worthy of being displayed at the top of the rankings for your desired keywords. There are thousands, if not millions, of other people who would love to have their websites ranked on the first page for their desired keywords. With that kind of competition, you’ll never reach the top unless you actively work for it. That’s what SEO is.
In an upcoming blog post I’ll discuss the elements of SEO and how it differs from other forms of online traffic generation.