Have you ever asked yourself the question why do you need a website? Many site owners enter into the process with unrealistic expectations fueled by media fantasies like this old Super Bowl ad from UPS:

Why do you need a website?

In my experience, there are two types of people on the internet — people who are posting and looking for pictures of ‘kittens and bacon’ and people who are seriously looking to find or get found. If you’re in the first group, create a simple Tumblr site, post lots of great pictures of kittens and bacon and voila — soon you’ll be swimming in likes and reposts. If you’re in the second group, however, there are some hard realities you need to face if you hope to get found in search and use your website to generate leads for your business. The internet is not a ‘field of dreams‘ — if you build a website, they will not come unless you engage in some form of search engine marketing [SEM].

At the low end; it’s cheaper than brochures

At a very basic level, a website can be a place to inexpensively post the same kind of content you’d put in a brochure at a fraction of the cost. You can write as much as you want and include images and videos at no extra cost. If that is all you want to do, then there are a wide variety of inexpensive options like Wix and Weebly that will do the job quite nicely and you may even be able to do most of the work yourself. Peter Visser says:

Companies spend millions creating brochures and distributing them. By having a website you can skip that entirely. Your potential customers can find out about you and any of your products online. If you get most of your business through networking and personal connections, then they will want to check out your website.” Go to the source: Why Do I Need a Website? Here are 21 Reasons

If you want your site to be more than just ‘brochureware’ and to actually generate leads for you, read on…

At the high end; engage in search engine marketing

Search engine marketing is a lot more involved than simply creating a brochureware website and using it to promote your business. There are two types of search engine marketing; pay per click [PPC] which as the name implies is not free and search engine optimization [SEO] which is organic and free. As with most strategies, there are pros and cons to both. Each of these strategies involve anticipating what your target audience may be looking for in search, organizing your thoughts around keywords related to those goals and publishing valuable information about those keywords.

PPC

Pay per click most often involves using Google AdWords [or Bing] to bid on keywords that are relevant to your target market. When someone searches for a keyword that you have ‘purchased’, you may show up in the ad space either on the top or the side of the search engine ranking page. Contrary to what most people believe, purchasing the keyword is no guarantee that you’ll show up — Google must still determine that the content to which you are pointing people is relevant to your keyword.  Also, there seems to be a natural bias against clicking on these paid ads and the bias becomes more profound as the age of the searcher gets younger. Searchers seem to favor the kind of organic results that come from an SEO campaign.

SEO

Search engine optimization has no upfront cost like PPC but it requires many of the same skills in terms of determining a keyword strategy and it requires that the content publisher be mindful of concepts like technical seo, on-page optimization and off-page optimization.

While PPC is paid and SEO is ‘free’, SEO still involves a lot of time and effort [and everyone knows time is money] so regardless of which strategy you choose, you should have the resources necessary to stick with a campaign for the long haul and by that I mean that it may take between 3-6 months before you see a return on your effort.

Warning! Content shock ahead

Both aspects of search engine marketing require having great content on your site for those who actually find you. Be aware that if you’re looking to get found in search, you’ll need to work hard. Free high-quality content abounds on the internet and you’ll need to create incredible content if you’re hoping to get found. One of my trusted sources Brian Dean of Backlinko recently said this: “If you’re not a good storyteller, learn the skill or hire someone that does. If you don’t, you’re going to have a tough time getting anyone’s attention in 2016.”

In his post Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy, author Mark Schaefer warns about the supply and demand reality of content marketing…

content shock

In the post I referenced, Mark says:

According to Nielsen and other sources, the amount of content we consume on a daily basis has grown from two hours a day in the 1920s to nearly 11 hours per day today. Propelled by mobile devices, the average amount of content we consume on a daily basis has gone up by two hours a day just in the last three years!

How much higher can this go? 12 hours a day? 13? Who knows. But there is some limit.

On the supply side of the equation, the amount of information on the web is expected to increase by 500 percent (conservatively) in the next five years. If you can imagine how big the Internet is, in the next five years, we are going to have five of those.

Do you think it is going to be a little more difficult to be successful in content marketing?

Thought leaders of the future hoping to get found in search will not only need to create amazing content but they will also need to use platforms that are hyper-optimized for search. It’s no longer enough to just produce amazing content — EVERY aspect of your online presence will need to be amazing if you’re hoping to get found.

If you’re not certain that your website is sound from a technical perspective, I encourage you to take advantage of my free seo audit — it can either give you the peace of mind that you’re good to go or let you know what you’ll have to fix before you are. Then, and only then, will you be able to proceed with your search engine marketing or content marketing campaign knowing that you’re making a good investment.

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