There are a lot of damaging misconceptions about the world of internet marketing, so let’s take this opportunity to separate fact from fiction. There was a time when “going online” seemed like an arcane process that required a Ph.D. to navigate successfully. Those of us who were around in the early days of cyberspace can remember an era when email was considered a great convenience because messages didn’t need to be answered immediately; they could sit there for days — weeks, even — until you got around to them. Now, in our modern web-obsessed society, the average person checks their phone nearly 47 times per day.
The web is no longer the mysterious provenance of tech wizards, and most of us consider ourselves proficient with the internet. These aren’t just idle observations. This overfamiliarity has some annoying consequences for marketing professionals.
When it comes to internet marketing, experts are everywhere. It’s all a matter of doing your search engine optimization (SEO), buying Facebook ads and posting a few messages on Twitter. How difficult is that? Unfortunately, that’s a line of thinking that routinely spells trouble for do-it-yourself marketing enthusiasts.
1. SEO Perception Vs. Reality
Everyone’s heard about those game-changing Google algorithm updates that made old-fashioned SEO tactics obsolete, but confusion persists nonetheless. Part of the problem is Google’s understandable refusal to reveal precisely how their algorithm works from update to update. That forces the rest of us to draw upon our boots-on-the-ground experience to figure out best practices. Luckily, that experience has given us some key insights into present-day SEO.
Adapting To Change
We all know (I hope) that it’s terrible SEO practice to place hidden keywords at the bottom of webpages, the way so many sites did in previous decades. Even so, some old habits continue to flourish.
Too many marketers remain preoccupied with maximizing keyword density, despite algorithm changes that make this approach far less effective than in the past. They cling to the misconception that it’s best to insert the same keyword numerous times, so long as it can be done “naturally.” Others obsess over exact formulas of keyword density on a page. It’s a lot of effort that could be devoted to more productive activities.
You’re better off focusing on content relevance, value and context that aligns with the interests of the searcher than about keyword mathematics.
Don’t Limit Yourself
“One keyword per page” is a related myth that persists. The idea here is that search engines will get confused about the purpose of a given page if there are too many keywords on it, and your page becomes lost in cyberspace.
However, we know that pages that rank well for a particular keyword tend to also rank well for other keywords — sometimes hundreds of them. There’s no reason why you need to confine your SEO practices to the old “one keyword per page” rule anymore.
2. Paid Media Vs. Reality
Paid media like Google Ads certainly sounds easy to use. Just choose the keywords you want to rank for, add a headline and make an offer. The reality is that there are so many options and optimizations you need to consider that this set-it-and-forget-it approach is rarely effective.
Know Your Default
Your Google Ads are automatically set to reach people who are in your targeted location and those who show an interest in the area. This poses a problem for brick-and-mortar businesses that depend on local clientele.
Businesses like these could end up paying for irrelevant searches from people who live far away. That’s one reason why checking your default settings and making any necessary tweaks should be part of your paid media strategy.
Missing Puzzle Pieces
However, the uncomfortable truth is that even a well-thought-out and carefully managed paid media campaign isn’t going to save you if you’re lacking in other fundamental areas. Don’t put all your resources on Facebook and Google Ads — if your website is a disaster, you’re not likely to get many conversions anyway. Paid media is still a puzzle that requires all the pieces. If a huge one is missing, your payoff is bound to be minimal.
3. Social Media Vs. Reality
Here’s another case where people fall victim to a false sense of familiarity. Fairly or not, the assumption is that everyone is on social media these days. This may explain why we tend to think that running a social media campaign would be a simple process. How hard is it to post pictures of cute kittens? Or to acquire 10,000 “friends” who we’ve never so much as emailed?
Strategic Social Media
In today’s day and age, you need a social media marketing strategy. Part of it must include figuring out which platforms are most relevant to your campaign. Not all social media is alike. For instance, LinkedIn doesn’t attract the same demographic that Instagram does. To avoid wasting valuable time and energy, try to concentrate 100% on a few platforms, rather than attempting to maintain accounts on every single platform at 50%. It’s better to have just a couple accounts that you closely monitor than many accounts you may end up routinely ignoring.
You also need to figure out how to engage with your audience. There are a variety of ways to do this — videos, online polls, hashtag games, scheduled chats — but you have to interact with your base, not just increase your follower count.
Real World Focus
You can succeed in internet marketing, but only if you first accept the fact that it isn’t as straightforward as it looks. Many marketing misconceptions are based on the eternal appeal of shortcuts. We love to believe in simple SEO tricks that will save us time and energy, but for the most part, these never worked in the first place or have been made ineffective by algorithm updates.
We need to adapt as technology, consumer tastes and algorithms continue to change. Take more time on the front end to strategize and do your research; it’s not always glamorous, but it’s the only true road to ongoing marketing success.