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What Does "Internet Marketing" Even Mean?

Posted by drew on Dec. 8, 2013, 5 p.m.

The phrase “internet marketing” is an umbrella term that covers a large variety of different roles and responsibilities. Today, we’ll be exploring the different aspects of internet marketing. Some of them are entirely necessary when creating your internet marketing strategy, while others may be more optional.

1. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

SEO is the process of improving a web page’s organic ranking in search engines. This organic ranking is unpaid and based entirely on the relevance of a web page to the search terms entered by the user. Each search engine uses a variety of factors to determine which results would be most useful. It is the optimizer’s job to stay up-to-date on changes in the search engines, and to make adjustments to websites that will improve their ranking for specific keywords.

SEO usually involves making changes to the visible content on the page, the metadata in the page’s code, and increasing the number of pages elsewhere that link to your site. If you have a website of any kind, SEO is something you can’t afford to go without. You need to establish keyword targets and have a strategy for building your link profile in a natural way.

2. Paid Search a.k.a. PPC (Pay-per-Click)  a.k.a. SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

Paid Search marketing goes by many names in the internet marketing world, but they all refer to paid advertising displayed on search results pages or on other sites around the web. Advertisers usually pay for these ads based on how many times people click on them and visit their website, though this isn’t the only way to pay for these ads.

A search engine marketer researches which keywords would be most profitable for a given business, writes and/or designs ads using these keywords, and determines what would be an appropriate amount to pay for each click. Some companies choose not to pay for online advertising for various reasons. Some simply don’t have the budget for this, while other companies may not get any valuable leads from the ads they pay for. Still others might not needs to pay for this advertising, because their organic search ranking is high enough to give them all the traffic they need.

3. Analytics

While the other sides of internet marketing can do a certain degree of tracking for themselves, the real bulk of performance tracking falls on analytics. Analytics can tell you exactly which parts of your site are performing well and which need to be improved. The data can help you determine how your SEO or Paid Search efforts are working or if a particular button is getting the clicks you think it is.

Someone in analytics will work with a client or company to determine which metrics are most valuable. These are generally referred to as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Your SEO, Paid Search, or other marketing efforts are much less useful without an accurate way to track their progress, so this type of reporting is necessary for anyone with an online presence.

4. Social Media Marketing

With so many social networks, and almost everyone on at least one of them, reaching your potential audience on social media is more important than ever. Social media marketers know all the techniques to build community, encourage customer loyalty, and create buzz via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and any number of other social networks.

Social media marketing involves identifying audiences and demographics across networks, and then creating content that is likely to go viral and spread in popularity. B2C companies benefit most from social media marketing, but that doesn’t mean that B2B companies should just ignore Facebook and Google+. These networks are a great place for all companies to build brand recognition.

5. Local Listings

If your company has many locations in different cities, it may be useful to consider a local listings management approach. This kind of internet marketing solution uses tools like Google Places to manage the individual location information of companies with franchises or many locations. Having this kind of information on different pages of your website can end up hurting your SEO, since each local page is competing for the same keyword group.

Another part of local listings involves online reputation management through reviews. Users can leave reviews on any number of sites, from Yelp to Google to YP.com. Soliciting positive reviews, responding to negative reviews, and promoting positive reviews elsewhere is an important part of online reputation management and local listings management.

6. E-mail Marketing

A well-done e-mail marketing campaign can encourage customer loyalty, reach potential customers who didn’t convert fully, and establish your company as a quality resource. An e-mail marketer tries to divide recipients into audience groups, and then writes e-mails that are targeted at these audience groups. An example of this could be one e-mail sent to your frequent customers with a special “Thank you” deal, and another e-mail sent to the customers who have not converted in a while with an incentive offer.

7. Content Marketing

Content marketing is the process of writing SEO-friendly content for a website’s blog, and then syndicating that content through networking. This could involve submitting content to online PR sites, guest writing for blogs, commenting on relevant blogs, and submitting content to linking forums like Reddit or Digg. For any website that produces content regularly, this is a necessity. Having good content on your site is good for SEO, but you should also be using it to direct traffic to your site from around the web.

As I said earlier, not all of these aspects of internet marketing will be entirely necessary or useful to every company, so you should use your resources wisely. “Internet Marketing” can be a big and mysterious term, but when divided out into these sections, it makes it easier to talk intelligently about your specific needs and what services can be used to meet those needs.