There are basically two approaches to digital marketing (and usually they can be combined).
One way is to pay for advertising and the other is to use content marketing in all its various forms. Paid advertising tends to get quick results, although it can be an expensive option, especially for more popular keywords and you’re always vulnerable to being outbid by people with deeper pockets.
Content marketing usually takes more time, but you cannot be outbid on the content you create.
When you are unable to use paid advertising (for example you are selling a product Google does not, currently, support, like e-liquids), you will usually have to base your strategy on content marketing.
You may be able to buy adverts in other places; however, your options are likely to be limited. Basically, if Google doesn’t want to touch something, there is a good chance other platforms will also be wary of it.
That said, regardless of what you’re selling, there will probably be some platforms which will take adverts from you. You may, however, find that prices will be high and/or that your products will be shown alongside competitor products.
Essentially, therefore, you’re probably going to need to focus on content marketing, in its various forms, but what you specifically do will depend on various factors, not least your budget, your in-house strengths and your specific aims.
Here are some options for you.
Blogging and Guest Posting
Never underestimate the power of the good old-fashioned written blog, especially if you’re working in a category for which Google does not accept adverts.
The reason for this is that usually relevant adverts are going to be displayed before other forms of content. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the adverts are going to “win the eyeball”, that will depend on a number of factors, but it does put them in pole position.
When there are no adverts, however, the best (for which read most relevant) content will go straight to the top.
Guest posting is essentially blogging on someone else’s site in order to drive traffic to your own.
You may have to pay for a guest post and the host site is likely to have rules about what it will and will not accept, but in principle, if you can produce a decent blog (or have the budget to have somebody else produce one for you), then you can create the sort of high-quality guest posts sites are going to want to post as people are going to want to read them.
When you type a search query into Google, YouTube video results come at the very top, even before adverts to text-based websites. Note; however, the two qualifiers in that sentence.
Google owns YouTube, so it promotes (some of the) videos hosted on YouTube.It doesn’t promote videos hosted on other platforms. Creating videos for other platforms may still have its uses, especially if you’re planning to target the platform in question, but it’s not going to get you top spot on Google.
Similarly, creating videos for any platform, including YouTube, is not going to guarantee you top spot for other search engines, although Google’s current dominance may make this fact effectively irrelevant.
The key to making YouTube work is to make tightly-focused videos which answer a specific question. Opinions vary on the perfect length for a YouTube video. If you’re giving a decent amount of information, then you’re probably going to need at least 5-10 minutes to do a topic justice.
If you find yourself going over 20 minutes, then you probably should start thinking about splitting the video into two (or more) parts.
Creating a YouTube video is likely to be a lot more labour-intensive than creating a written blog, however, it can be done fairly affordably. Contrary to what is sometimes believed, it’s perfectly possible to create decent YouTube videos with basic cameras, even phone cameras.
Great lighting is massively more important than a great camera and good sound-quality is much appreciated.
There are plenty of video-editing tools you can use, there are even some high-quality tools you can use for free, but it might be easier to script out your videos so that they require minimal editing and/or employ a proper video editor.
Video didn’t kill the radio star and it certainly hasn’t killed its modern counterpart of podcasting. In fact, many of the “videos” on YouTube are based on audio rather than visuals (or a mixture of both).
Pure podcasting has two big advantages over YouTube (or any other video format). First of all, it’s less work to implement. You basically just need a decent microphone and some recording software.
Secondly, people can either stream them online or download them and listen to them when they can’t get proper internet. Audio files are usually small enough for this to be perfectly feasible even with budget-end smartphones.
The disadvantages of podcasting as compared to YouTube is that you lose your opportunity to rank at the very top of Google (as this spot is, currently, reserved for YouTube videos).
You have to rely purely on audio rather than being able to offer visuals, although there are ways to compensate for this, such as by linking to a blog and/or a visual platform such as Instagram or Pinterest.
Instagram and Pinterest
Instagram and Pinterest are both highly visual platforms. In theory, Instagram is a photo-sharing platform, but the term “photo” can be interpreted very loosely, for example, there are many accounts which post pictures of text.
Pinterest is a platform for sharing links, but visuals are hugely important there, which means that if you’re going to use the platform, you need to treat the thumbnail for your link as seriously as any Instagram image.
Both platforms are hugely popular and while Instagram is undoubtedly the bigger brand (in fact Instagram and YouTube are arguably the biggest brands in social media), however, Instagram is owned by Facebook and as such is at risk of being tainted by the scandals associated with its parent.
Pinterest, therefore, could be well worth a look, especially if your main focus is blogging and guest posting.
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