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In this new digital age, things change so rapidly that it is difficult to keep pace with the new advances. Small businesses cannot depend on old standards. A few years back, SEO or search engine optimization was sufficient to receive large number of traffic and have good online sales. It was only because the field of online business was not so fiercely competitive that it is today. The same product or service is now sold by thousands of sellers, resellers, retailers, franchisees and affiliates. Even after using the best SEO practices, you cannot depend on SEO only to receive the visitors who matter most. It is time to supplement your SEO efforts with other marketing initiatives in the changed online business environment.

Before search and implement other online marketing optimization options, you need to know why SEO is given so much importance and why use other marketing options. It is a known fact that before buying any product or service, most potential buyers first check related information through search engines, like Google, Bing or Yahoo!. At the same time, it is also known that most of them do not proceed beyond the first page of search results. If a product is sold by hundreds or thousands of sellers then only 10-20 of them who come up first in the search engine results have a chance of making any sale. If your webpage does not appear high in the search engine results then you are unlikely to make any sale. If your webpage does appear high in the search engine results, is your page designed and prepared to convert the visitor into a client?

This makes it important to think about other alternatives to SEO. While SEO still retains its importance, many more opportunities have emerged that help increase sales. Knowing about these options is important if you want to succeed in your online business venture. It is not wise to put all your eggs in one basket. If for some reason your SEO initiatives do not work, then you will have reduced or no sales. However, if you have implemented other marketing techniques, buyers will keep coming to your site through other sources/channels, even when SEO fails to work.

These are supplementary options, and not alternatives to SEO. Many of these options are now well-known and have been found very effective in increasing the number of customers. Among these options, email marketing is one of the most preferred Internet marketing method. It is a simple yet effective online marketing technique. People like receiving good content in their email inbox, they want to receive information about a particular product, service or industry. While search engines provide information related to a specific keyword, the same keyword may have multiple meanings, raising problems associated with the desired information. In this matter, search engines are very inefficient. It is time consuming to shift through massive information, most of which are completely unrelated to what the person is searching. It is also difficult to trust information available on Internet.

It is because of these inefficiencies of search engines that email marketing has become so popular. Through a scheduled email (autoresponder) or a simple weekly newsletter, a person receives news, updates, and insights of experts on a particular profession, field or product. Best of all, subscribers do not have to pay anything. Because of these advantages, it is easy to get subscribers for emails. The email provides the most relevant information in a concise format. The same email is also used to market and promote products and services. It’s a win-win situation, where the business is happy with the high qualified prospect, and the prospect, because they are receiving free relevant information in their inbox.

If you are able to provide valuable content to your readers through your website and newsletter then you get recognition as an expert in your field. This helps build brand recognition and establishes you in your industry as an authority on the subject. Your words are more convincing and readers are ready to follow your buying recommendations. You can use this to your advantage and easily convert such readers into customers.

Even when search engine optimization can get you lots of visitors, it may not result in increased sales. Visitors arriving through search engines are not necessarily buyers or immediate buyers. For example, if your website has used wrong keywords then visitors who arrive at your site following those keywords will immediately leave the site because it is not what they are searching. There are also visitors who are seriously considering buying a product that you offer but they are not searching Internet with credit card in hand. They may buy the product after a few days, weeks or even months. If you cannot get hold of them when they arrive at your site then they may decide to buy from another seller when they really make a purchase.

You can avoid this happening by simply remaining in touch with your visitors and potential buyers. With the help of email marketing, you can remain on their radar. While this is one alternative to SEO there are other online marketing techniques as well. The main goal of online marketer is to receive targeted traffic, consumers who are really interested in the products or services that you offer, capturing their name and email, building your list. You can use pay per click, direct advertisements, social media marketing, blogging, video marketing, mobile marketing, article marketing and even advertising through traditional media.

In the pay per click program, you pay only when someone clicks on your advertisement. The great advantage on this is that the visitor/prospect is highly qualified, since they clicked in an ad with very specific and targeted message. There is a big disadvantage though. The percentage of people that click in those ads is very low (in a range that tops around 3%).

Social media marketing has also emerged a very effective option to market and promote anything. It has become standard to have presence on networking and sharing sites. The contents on your website must be shareable. You have to use web 2.0 interactive features which involve using tools, techniques and social media sites to respond quickly to the queries, comments and suggestions from visitors and customers.

If you sell something that can be explained better through instructional video then you should take advantage of video sharing sites. You can also advertise directly on popular websites. Article marketing is an old technique but still very effective. Article directories have high page ranking and allow you to place backlinks within your article, pointing to your page(s). These backlinks are very important in getting targeted traffic and for SEO. Advertising through traditional media like print, TV and radio is an option only for large companies. You should be aware of all these available options and do not limit your marketing efforts to search engine optimization. Online marketing techniques that were standard, have changed. You need to know about other Internet marketing options and use the ones that suit your requirements, and succeed in your online marketing strategies.

Rob Lopes
Bit & Pix Corporation