There is often some overlap between online marketing agencies and other marketing agencies, but looking through websites which rank for “online marketing agency”, the emphasis seems to be on promoting websites rather than building them. On the other hand, digital marketing agencies work it the other way and prefer website design and build to promotion. There are many ways of promoting websites and many customers will not be aware of all the techniques; some of them contravene the terms and conditions of search engines or social media sites and should therefore be avoided. In due course, your site may be de-indexed and in some cases Facebook are now suing individuals who have flagrantly abused the site.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
The technique most customers do know of is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and although many regard Google as the only game in town, Bing and Yahoo are very similar and YouTube is searched more than both of them. SEO is about choosing keywords, which searchers use to find sites like yours and then doing everything you can to make your site the highest ranked on the search engines
It is getting harder to manipulate the search engine ranking of your websites but the most important thing is to publish interesting stuff, add a relevant picture or video. On your own site, you can do a number of things:
- structure the pages so that search engines can determine the topic of the website
- optimise each page by ensuring the keyword appears in key places
- use internal site links to show search engines the topic of the page
Recent search engine algorithm changes give more emphasis to social signals (which are harder to generate automatically). Backlinks remain important (they can’t change the search engines completely overnight), but the search engines are getting better at detecting automatic link building (not allowed) and will de-index the worst offenders. An online marketing agency will have skills in this area and may even have certificates to prove it !
Paid Traffic – PPC
Online advertising is also a well-known service offered by online marketing agencies. The most often used is Google AdWords which places small ads next to the search engine results for your chosen keyword, if you have bid more than others who wish to advertise for the same term. Google will also place similar ads on relevant websites and gmail using the Display Network. Yahoo and Bing have similar services. Online advertising is also known as Pay Per Click or PPC. You can quickly spend a lot of money if you do not manage your campaigns carefully and having an agency working full time on your account will prevent this. They will quickly turn off advertising for search terms that don’t convert and they know how to test keywords before scaling up campaigns
The search engines aren’t the only places you can advertise. Whereas you target a keyword on the search engines, you can target a demographic profile on Facebook, and Facebook has lots of tools to help you set up a profile that will respond to your ads. Facebook Ads tend to convert at a lower rate, because Facebook users are there for fun, not shopping. Managing the ads performance is similar – test an ad, before scaling up.
For more specialised advertising, there is Media Buying. Many sites sell advertising space through media buying agencies and you can choose on which sites your ads will appear. Again you can spend a lot of money quickly, but once you match the right sites and ads, traffic is practically unlimited, except in very small niches.
Another service that online advertising agencies offer is Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO). This is about increasing the number of visitors who respond to your calls to action, whether it is opting in to your email list, downloading a PDF file or buying something.
Tracking and Analytics
Each of these techniques demands the use of suitable Analytics which track every visitor, page view and click, where it came from, and how often they are converting. Getting this right is probably the key to successful paid traffic generation.
Social media can also be used to generate traffic to your site and build relationships with potential customers. Customers (of agencies) need to be involved in this if it is supposed to reflect the personality of the business. B2B businesses will normally operate on LinkedIn or Google+ with B2C businesses using Facebook
Online marketing agencies hearts tend to lie in the traffic generation and conversion rather than the design and programming of website design (favoured by digital marketing agency)