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When it comes to search marketing there’s a 4-letter F-word that will derail your efforts every time. And even the smartest marketers can fall prey to it because, let’s face it, marketing is a challenging and sometimes frustrating task.
We’ve all had days that make us pull at our hair and pound on our desks, and we’re primed for the next attractive offer that hits our inbox. With rising costs and diminishing budgets, the most dangerous word becomes: Free.
Myth #5: The Free Listing Myth
Your dad probably told you that nothing in life is free, and that’s definitely true of search marketing. Even if you decide to only list your site in free search engines, there will still be a cost in terms of human resources and time, whether you hire a search marketing company or design and implement your own search marketing program.
Search marketing is simply another form of marketing, and you wouldn’t expect to put out a direct mail piece, or a brochure, or a billboard for free.
So how do you define your costs for search engine marketing? This is a challenging task that requires you to spend some time outlining your marketing goals. Your best bet is to set a budget that’s comfortable, and then research your options or consult with your search marketing company on the best ways to use it.
Here are just a few ways you can use your search marketing budget:
- Paid inclusion. This simply means that you pay a flat fee for the privilege of being included in a directory. This method does not guarantee any particular placement – you might show up on page one or page six hundred, but you will be included.
- Pay-per-click. In this scenario, you create an ad and then select a bid that you are willing to pay each time a visitor clicks on your ad in order to reach your site. Google AdWords is one example of a program that uses pay-per-click.
- “Organic” optimization. It’s possible and desirable to get ranked well without paying, but it still requires investing time in a process of evaluating your site’s performance, monitoring its traffic reports and working with your site on a regular basis to achieve high-quality results.
- Social marketing. With resources like Facebook and Twitter it’s easier to get your site out there in front of entire networks of people looking for your products and services. Setting up an account is free, but there is a significant time investment in making these resources work for you.
One way or another, you’ll be spending time, money, or both to market your site online. Don’t let anyone fool you into believing it’s free. Even “free” comes with a price tag, whether it’s your time or a trade-off in lower returns.
The trick is to figure out how to balance and invest the budget you do have. In the end, a well-planned, cohesive and integrated search marketing program will give you a return on your investment that makes it all worthwhile.
How do you allocate your search marketing budget?