Danielle Lindstrom on Online Marketing: What It Is, and What It Is Not

If you’re reading this, I assume you’re either a) a fellow marketer who has been searching for the “perfect plan for blogging,” or b) you’re an executive who is considering investing in a marketing plan for your company’s blog. If you fit in either of these categories, then you’ve come to the right place! Let’s dive in.

What Is Online Marketing?

Put yourself in your reader’s shoes for a moment. What do you know about online marketing?

If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking that online marketing is just another buzzword used to sell overpriced digital marketing courses to naive millennials. In reality, online marketing is a very broad category that includes all the marketing and advertising activities that take place online. So, while SEO and content marketing are definitely sub-fields of online marketing, so is email marketing and display advertising. Basically, any kind of marketing activity that happens in the digital sphere.

Now that you know the basics, let’s dive into what traditional marketing was, compared to online marketing. Up until the early 2000s, traditional marketing was often considered “direct” marketing. In other words, you’d send out a trade magazine to your audience, and hope that they’d actually read your article and be interested in your product or service. Not too many digital marketers will tell you that this is still the case. These days, with everyone under the guise of a digital persona, your audience is likely to be found on social media platforms like Facebook (formerly known as “the social network”). So, if you want to be one of the most effective marketers, you need to adjust your strategy to take advantage of this paradigm shift. (For more on this topic, check out my blog post, Why Marketers Are Embracing The Importance Of Online Marketing.)

One of the best examples of a digital marketing campaign that really stands out is the Google Flu Initiative. Launched in 2016, this initiative sought to combat fake news articles that were spreading like wildfire during the height of the US election. The problem was that many of these unsubstantiated articles were doing very well, and the people who were reading them believed them. As a result, tens of millions of Google searches were conducted, and many individuals were exposed to dangerous levels of infection. (You can learn more about this on YouTube, as well as the New York Times’ deeply reported piece that dives into how the outbreak was nearly completely averted thanks to this coordinated effort.)

The Evolution Of Online Marketing

To follow suit, your marketing strategy must reflect the times we live in. Instead of being limited to print publications and billboards, your audience now has the ability to consume content and marketing material at the click of a button. This change has necessitated a rethink of traditional marketing tactics. It’s no longer good enough to simply throw a party and wait for the attendees to come to you. You need to be where your audience is, and it’s only logical that this would mean moving toward online marketing.

What Is SEO?

If you’re not familiar, SEO is an acronym for “search engine optimization.” Essentially, SEO is the practice of making your website or content as appealing as possible to search engines, in the hopes of climbing the ranks and appearing on the first page of search results for specific keywords. The better your SEO, the more likely your content will appear near the top of the search results when someone is looking for information on your topic.

Why Is SEO Important?

It’s important because you’ll never get ahead of the competition if you don’t play the game. According to Search Engine Land, as of now, there are more than 200 million websites on the internet. That’s a lot of competition. To stand out, you need to do everything in your power to make your website as appealing as possible to search engines, in the hopes of appearing in the top rankings for important search phrases. This will put you in touch with your target audience, and allow you to convert them into paying customers. In the end, SEO will help you find your “perfect match” between buyer and seller. (For more on this topic, check out my blog post, How SEO Is Changing The Way We Think About Online Marketing.)

How Do I Start An SEO Campaign?

This is an important question, because you don’t want to start your campaign and then discover that it’s not going the way you expected it to. To give you an idea of what to look out for, let’s go over some of the most popular mistakes first. Then, we’ll cover some of the basics that you need to know.

Not Optimizing Your Website For The Most Important Keywords

To put it simply, your website’s content is your chance to shine. You get to tell the world about your products, your services, and your vision for the company. Of course, you want to make sure that you choose the right keywords, but you also don’t want to limit yourself to a select group of words. Instead, you want to use a combination of keywords and phrases that are relevant to your product or service, but can also be found in a casual search on the internet. This way, you’ll be able to reach your target audience, but you won’t be limited to only those who are searching for your specific products or services.

Choosing The Wrong Keywords

The thing about keywords is that they change, and you have to change with them. Unless you’re regularly monitoring the performance of your website, you’ll never know which keywords are bringing in the customers, and which ones aren’t. If you want to succeed in SEO, you have to constantly be testing and re-testing, and choosing which keywords to feature, and which ones to avoid. You can use tools like Google Keyword Planner to help you find the right combination of keywords and phrases. It’s a good idea to consult with an SEO expert to navigate this process effectively.

Avoid Over-Optimization

Just because a search engine says that your website is optimized for a certain keyword or keyphrase, it doesn’t mean that you should completely switch over to SEO. Sometimes, a perfectly acceptable version with minimal optimization is the best you can do. Just keep testing and evolving your strategy as you go along, and don’t be afraid to switch back to traditional marketing methods if necessary.

Not Testing Different Formats

This one may seem obvious, yet people will routinely waste tons of time and effort trying to squeeze every last bit of SEO juice out of their website or blog. If you’ve ever tried to optimize a PDF document for search engines, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. The fact is, not every single person who sees your content will have the same ability to find and read it. Some will have audio transcripts, while others will have to rely on a plain old boring text description. This is why it’s essential to test different formats and determine which one converts browsers into paying customers the best.

Setting Too Many Numeric Goals

If you’re someone who’s new to SEO, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the numbers that seem to pop up in your dashboard. After all, that’s what drives most business owners crazy about SEO: all the numbers! Setting too many numeric goals, such as getting a certain amount of links or backlinks, can make a perfectly good SEO strategy go horribly wrong. What you need is a single, focused goal that you can measure and verify, even if it’s not numerical.

Not Using The Right Keywords In The Headlines

This point might not seem like a mistake, but it’s actually one of the most common of all SEO mistakes. When you’re writing your website’s headlines, you have the rare opportunity to craft some truly engaging copy that will compel people to click on your article. Don’t be afraid to use a handful of engaging words and interesting phrases, but don’t overload your headlines with unrelated words or phrases. People hate being tricked, and they’ll avoid your content if they feel like they were scammed. In other words, don’t try to be cute or entertaining with your headlines, or you’ll risk losing a lot of potential customers. (For example, “Are you looking for a unique gift? We’ve got you covered.” Don’t put both “covered” and “gift” in the headline, because the second one is not relevant to what you’re writing.)