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There Are More Than 50 Shades of Gray in the "SM" of “Search Marketing”
Kate Gingold
/ Categories: The Sprocket Report

There Are More Than 50 Shades of Gray in the "SM" of “Search Marketing”

And you needn't pick the riskiest!

Is Google giving your website ranking a spanking? SEO terms may be labeled “black hat” or “white hat,” but the strategies for search engine marketing are still very gray.

Remember when the book “Fifty Shades of Grey” threw folks in a tizzy? The wildly popular franchise that became a movie series as well started out as a little self-published ebook. Every small business owner dreams of achieving that kind of by-your-own-bootstrap success. One would think that by diligent application of internet marketing tools, anyone can drive their business website to the top of the heap and reap similar success.

But sometimes success is a random lightning strike and if there was a fool-proof plan of course everyone would be using it. Your business has access to plenty of tools that will help, but remember that you’re also up against some serious obstacles:

Not all strategies support every website. 
Pinterest, for instance, is still overwhelmingly patronized by women 18-49 years old. Certain products and services naturally will do well there so effort on Pinterest would be a good return on investment. Possibly all businesses could find some success on Pinterest, but compare the ROI to other strategies that might better benefit your specific product or service.

You have a limited budget.
Amazon has a limited budget, too, but it’s way bigger than yours. Competition online has never been more cutthroat. “Bet it all on red” is a legitimate way to spend your marketing budget when driving web traffic, but so is “hedge your bets.” Only you can decide how you want to allocate your marketing budget.  

The rules keep changing.
Because people continue to try gaming the system, Google, Facebook, and other platforms also continue changing their algorithms to thwart the bad guys. Yesterday’s sure-fire trick for website promotion will no doubt draw tomorrow’s penalty. While this gives some SEO gurus a thrill, most businesses learn it’s a dangerous way to play the marketing game.

But don’t get discouraged! Your online marketing will succeed if you focus on a few main points: 

You know more than you think you do.
Rely on your common sense and steer clear of “too good to be true” promises. While lightning does occasionally strike, you can’t count on it. What you can count on is constant progress that moves you toward your goals. Hiring professional help with search engine marketing is a smart idea, but you should participate as a partner, bringing your specific expertise to the table.

Your customers are smarter than you think.
Yes, they watch a lot of dumb TikTok videos, but most people on the internet are pretty savvy – or will be once they get burnt. Marketing tricks do not encourage repeat customers, and obviously, you’d prefer to build good customer relationships or you wouldn’t be reading this. Trust your customer by marketing intelligently.

The premise of marketing hasn’t – and never will – change.
Start by providing a necessary product or service for your specific customer base. Support your marketing with a website that is fresh, relevant, and consistent. It is true that the harder you work, the luckier you get. There is no quick fix. A systematic approach to your online marketing, where you control the variables and learn from mistakes, will inevitably get you to your goal. 

While it seemed like magic, the “Fifty Shades” phenomenon took more effort than most people realize. The original manuscript was completely re-imagined before being published. After the first, self-published, version appeared, it was years before a traditional publisher picked it up and another year before it became a best-seller under that publisher’s patronage. 

It’s masochistic to keep chasing the Next Big Thing in search engine marketing instead of putting your efforts into solid relationship-building. Sprocket wants to be your web marketing partner, equally dedicated to helping your business flourish. Contact us today to learn how we can help!

This article is an update to “50 Shades of Gray: When S/M Means “Search Marketing” dated 5/1/2014. 

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Kate Gingold

Kate GingoldKate Gingold

I have been writing a blog with web marketing tips and techniques every other week since 2003. In addition to blogging and client content writing, I write books and a blog on local history.

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I have been writing a blog with web marketing tips and techniques every other week since 2003. In addition to blogging and client content writing, I write books and a blog on local history.

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