Alternative Traffic Sources to SEO

 

As effective as SEO can be, it doesn’t work for everyone. It all depends on the kind of competition that a company faces and its available marketing budget. Some keywords are so competitive that it’s difficult for anyone except the biggest names to climb to the top of the search engine results pages. The good news is that there are other options. When SEO falls flat for whatever reason, it pays to explore SEO alternatives. Some of these alternatives cost more than others, and what works for one company may not work for the next. An overview of some of the most popular SEO alternatives is provided below.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Pay-per-click advertising, which is usually referred to simply as PPC, is the most popular alternative to SEO. In fact, many companies employ both strategies to strengthen their online marketing efforts. As the name implies, the amount that a company ultimately pays for this kind of advertising is based on the number of clicks that is generated. However, the name is a little deceptive. Within the PPC category, there are several options.

The most popular form of PPC advertising involves setting a monthly budget and paying a specific amount of money for every click that is generated. In some models, however, the amount that is paid is based on the number of times that people see an ad. This setup is known as CPM, or cost per mille, and it involves paying a specific amount per 1,000 impressions.

The majority of online advertising options involve PPC of some kind. So far, it’s been the most effective and reliable way to handle online advertising, which is infinitely more complex than advertising on television and other mediums. The effectiveness of PPC varies. Click-through rates have declined through the years, but that’s probably more attributable to the explosive growth of the Internet than anything else; people have more places to go. On average, a company can expect to enjoy a two-percent click-through rate on any given PPC campaign.

Banner Advertising

Banner advertising is actually a subset of PPC advertising. It specifically refers to banner ads, or image ads, whereas PPC can also include text ads and other types of ads. Banner ads have existed since the dawn of the Internet. Some are horizontal while some run vertically down the sides of a web page. As with PPC, the cost of banner advertising depends on the type of budget that is set.

As far as effectiveness goes, banner advertising has fallen somewhat out of favor. A huge part of the problem is that Internet users are savvier than ever. Many people simply learn to ignore these ads. Another issue is that many web browsers have ad-blocking plugins. Upon being installed, these plugins block many types of banner ads. Although some still slip through the cracks, the majority won’t appear at all. Therefore, it’s difficult to get a handle on how often a banner ad is viewed, and it’s even trickier to determine whether it’s producing conversions or not.

Video Ads

Video ads are a more recent development. They are usually offered as an option by pay-per-click advertising companies. Instead of choosing a banner ad or text ad, an online business can opt to post video ads. There are limitations on when and where these ads appear, though, and they tend to cost a lot more than other types of online ads. Some video ads start playing immediately, which is especially expensive, while others only start playing after someone clicks the play button.

An increasingly popular option is to pay to have an online video ad play immediately before a YouTube video. As with most other forms of online advertising, however, the price depends on the type of bidding that’s used.

When it comes to drawing traffic to a site and generating conversions, video ads can be very effective. It’s difficult to gauge or predict, though, so many companies are wary of spending money on them. These types of ads are ideal for companies that have reasonably large budgets and products that they’d like to showcase in a vivid way. This may change over time as online video ads become more sophisticated. The growth in the popularity of mobile devices will have a major impact too.

Viral Videos

It’s not always necessary to spend a lot of money to promote a business or website with online videos. Creating a viral video is the equivalent of hitting the online marketing jackpot. As with any type of gambling, however, there’s no way to predict what will work and what won’t. With that in mind, it’s smart not to pour too much money into creating these videos. After all, some of the most popular viral videos were clearly made by amateurs, so having high-end production isn’t necessary.

What makes a video go viral? That depends on a variety of factors. Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult to deliberately create a video that goes viral. There’s no formula to follow because there’s no surefire way to make people share a video, which is the key to making one sweep across the Internet. A quick look at some of the most popular viral videos reveals that they are extremely diverse. There’s no way to make a video go viral without posting it on YouTube, and it needs to be shared and posted on social media sites as well. Beyond that, the rest is up to chance.

Press Releases

A great way to get featured on a blog or news site is by regularly issuing press releases online. Press releases closely mimic newspaper stories in terms of tone. They are not meant to be blatant ads for a company, but quotes can be used to include a few plugs. Writing a press release is the relatively easy part; the complicated part is getting it seen by the right people. For that, there are press release distribution services. Some of them are free while some of them aren’t.

Most companies begin by having their press releases distributed for free. This actually works in some instances, so it’s worth it to give it a try. With paid press release distribution services, however, the odds of a press release falling into the right hands are a lot higher. Some paid services have partnerships with news services and blogging services, which dramatically increases the odds that a press release will make a real splash. Before devoting a lot of time and effort to writing press releases, a business should set specific goals for doing so. Press releases have remained highly effective through the years, and they should continue to be an effective way to market a website in the future.

Social Media

When it comes to promoting a website or business on social media sites, there are two main options. The first is to engage in a social media campaign that doesn’t necessarily cost money but involves being highly active on the most popular social networking sites. The second is to use pay-per-click advertising to reach specific people on those sites. Even a few years ago, it was easy to enjoy great results on social media without spending a dime. That’s becoming increasingly difficult, however, and many companies now set aside money for social media marketing.

Maintaining an active presence on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook is time-consuming and tricky. Businesses that don’t know what they’re doing can waste a lot of time. There are Internet marketing companies that will handle such campaigns, but they expect to be paid for their services. Paying someone to run a full-fledged, full-time campaign on Twitter, for example, can cost up to $4,000 per month. Many companies would agree that it’s worth the money, especially given the fact that social media continues to surge in popularity.

Conclusion

There’s no need to rely solely on SEO to boost online exposure. Ranking high on the major search engines is undeniably important, but there are other ways to improve online visibility. The best rule of thumb is to experiment with as many different options as possible. Even after finding a solution that seems to work, it pays to keep trying new things. The truth is that a significant number of successful online businesses use more than SEO to get there. Companies that aren’t sure where to begin can hire online marketing firms to point them in the right direction. Such advice can be absolutely priceless.

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