Before the internet marketing really hadn't changed much since the 1950's. If you had a product you wanted to get in front of the public you had to advertise in print media like newspapers, magazines and phone books or you could advertise on television and radio. Then you had to put your product where the customer could buy it which meant getting stores to carry it.
If you were a small business you could travel around the country showing your product to stores, instruct them on how to display the product, give them a share of the proceeds from the sales they made and then head back to your shop to fill orders. Tough way to make a living.
Phone book advertising was the way to sell your product direct to the consumer. Buy an ad in the phone book and send out a color brochure to anyone that called. Trouble is that after world war two Americans were becoming more interested in instant everything. By the time the mail came with a brochure, most of them had forgotten they wanted something or had just purchased something else they could get more quickly.
Then came the World Wide Web. The Perfect replacement to the color brochure. Every business rushed to get a website to showcase their business. They built websites and waited for the orders to roll in. Unfortunately it never works like they show on the commercials. Customers never just find a website.
So the business would still rely on print advertising, but now all those ads encourage the consumer to "Please Visit Our Website." Customers would still call and ask for brochures, since only a few homes per hundred had access and even if they did most of them had to tie up their only phone line to use it. Remember phone modems?
So I took on a second job so I could afford to advertise. Online advertising was not yet available so advertising meant yellow page ads. Since my product is one I can sell to the world I wanted to be in every phone book on the planet. Since even with two jobs I could not afford that I had to concentrate on the bigger cities in the United States. It was not long before my monthly yellow page bill was ten thousand dollars.
With an average annual business volume of 250 thousand it seemed I was working just to pay for advertising. Still business was growing.
In 1996 Yahoo became the way for internet users to find a product or service. It was an online directory. And it sucked. It could be manipulated to screw up search results so badly that some websites were apparently relevant to every inquiry while websites that actually had what people were looking for couldn't be found. Webmasters (web page builders) were doing things like hiding the entire contents of the Encyclopedia Britannica in the back ground of their webpages. Or repeating the terms that they wanted to rank for over and over thousands of times. It did nothing to help business and really only frustrated most web users.
Then Pay Per Click advertising began. First was GoTo that became Overture which was bought by Yahoo. I started to switch some of my yellow page ad money to my on line budget. As the internet began to be the place people would look for stuff my on line ads began to produce more results than the yellow pages did. Even though online ads were in their infancy they did better.
Google was the first search engine. It applied a mathematical formula, an algorithm to determine how relevant a website would be for a given search query. Better, but still not perfect. If the algorithm determined your website did not meet its criteria, it still didn't show up in search results.
Pay Per Click ads began to turn more profit so Businesses began to phase out the Yellow page ads and within a year most businesses had switched a large portion of their ad spend to PPC. As Google became the dominate search engine, Adwords became dominate Pay Per Click leader.
My monthly advertising budget was now a average 50 thousand dollars per month. Half my monthly business volume was going directly to Google. I had my own personal Google Adwords consultant. I could call them anytime. True I am in a competitive market but if you are in business you are too. Yes my actual business volume was going up. However when I checked out how many people where clicking on ads verses how many orders were actually coming in I was deeply distressed.
I asked my personal Google representative how to get a higher percentage of buyers they told me I was getting a higher conversion rate than most advertisers do at three to five percent. That means that if you own a brick and mortar store, and you stood outside and paid people to go in to your store, you should be happy if only five out of one hundred buy something.
My most common question was how do I get better results with the native or natural search for my terms? I was paying over half a million dollars per year to Google in advertising. I get Christmas presents from Google every year but nobody at Google could tell me how to get better native search results. I was always looking for the company that could get me higher in the search results. What I found was a lot of companies that would take my money and set up door way pages, cram my website with meta tags and keywords. All of which had little or worse a negative effect in my rankings.
So I went back to the drawing board. Do you know that this is a truly exciting time. No college class can teach this stuff. By the time it was printed in a text book the data would be obsolete before the ink is dry. Truly it is changing that fast. What I found that in order to stay on top of the search engine optimizing I had to be devoted to it full time.
Yes you really can do it yourself. You should expect to spend at least a year studying what works and what does not. And that just gets you started since it is an ongoing pursuit in a developing field. However you have to decide how much time you can take away from your business and devote to studying Search Engine Optimization. Then you get to try to implement that on your website. But this is like living in Monopoly Land. If you make a mistake you get to suffer a drop in business volume that in today's economy may take months to recover from. Or worse, some of the information out there can actually get you banned from Google.
In a board game losing is no big deal. Getting booted from Google when ninety percent of your business income comes from being there is not acceptable. If you got into business to make a profit and you do not have time to play around learning this stuff on your own, call me. If you want some one else to handle this so you can get back to managing your business, call me.