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How did you find this article? Perhaps you searched for it. Perhaps you clicked on a link. Perhaps you saw it mentioned in social media.

There are several ways we can all get to see things on the web – search is just one of them.

So, how important is it? Should you be spending your time on activities such as SEO or will your time be better spent on social media activity and email marketing?

To consider this we need to go back to the “olden days” – the days before the Internet was invented.

Back then, if you were in business, you had just a handful of ways in which people could find out about what you did. There was “word of mouth”, just having a great reputation so that people would call you. Then there was the right listing in Yellow Pages and other business directories, such as Kelly’s. After that you could do some advertising in newspapers, magazines and on billboards. And if that didn’t help, you could use public relations and other marketing methods such as direct mail.

However, when the Internet arrived on the scene none of these things were really replaced – you can still get a Yellow Pages listing, except it is mostly online now, not in a printed form. You can still advertise on billboards, but now you can add in other forms of advertising such as Pay Per Click and website banners. The Internet has not provided an alternative means of marketing your business, it has just added several more ways.

Ultimately, as the theorists like to say, the “marketing mix” has dramatically increased.

Search marketing is not an alternative to other forms of marketing – it is just one more method to be added to the mix.

However, there is a widely held theory that all you need to do these days is get yourself to the top of the Google rankings and all will be well. That theory, of course, misses the point that there are also other search engines that need to be considered. It also misses the point that not every one of your customers uses the Internet.

People like to make their life and work as easy as possible. That is actually part of our psychological make-up. So anything that turns up that apparently makes life easy is something we latch on to. There is little doubt that if you can get to Number One on Google you do generate lots of potential business. This therefore fits with our notion of making life easy. Get to Number One on Google and you don’t have to worry about all those other marketing bits and pieces.

At least that’s the theory.

However, theories are not always right.

For a start, Google’s own data show that most people who visit websites get their WITHOUT conducting a search. Most website visits come from clicking links, email marketing, social media activity or even typing in the domain name directly. Search is actually only responsible for about a quarter of all website visits.

It therefore would seem sensible to only use search marketing as about a quarter of your marketing mix.

Except, dividing your time and effort on this mathematical basis is not as straightforward as it might seem.

Consider how the people who recommend you on Facebook might have found your website. You might get traffic from their link on Facebook as a result of them having found you on Google in the first place. Equally the word of mouth recommendation that leads to someone typing in your URL directly may have come from an initial search. In other words, the mathematics of marketing data can lead us in the wrong direction. Actually searching for a business might only represent a quarter of website visits, but behind the other three quarters of visits there could well be a significant search element.

That means that search marketing and its associated SEO is a high priority – even though other aspects of marketing, such as public relations, should also be high priority. In reality, the marketing mix has just got bigger and search marketing is a significant component of that mix.

However, it is not the only component; you need balance. And to achieve that means you need more data – just what journey did your customers take to connect with your business? Find that out and you’ll then be in a much clearer position as to the true value of search marketing for your particular business.

If you want to find out more about search marketing and get close to the people who really know about this stuff, you can get exclusive access to them at “Search Bootcamp” where you will be one of only 40 people in attendance, giving you the ability to directly connect with the top experts.

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