Elements of a Successful Digital Marketing Strategy - Part Two

By Wolfgang Jaegel and Gregory Smyth

In the first part of this article I discussed on-site optimization, also known as Search Engine Registration (SER). On-site optimization is the essential foundation of any Digital Marketing Campaign. Once it is sufficiently underway, it is possible to begin the ongoing process of off-site optimization that will help achieve higher rankings on the major Search Engines.

Off-site optimization is also known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It involves a range of tasks conducted externally to the website being optimized. These include securing listings in third-party directories, building in-bound links from quality external websites, and press release and content syndication.

Typically, an SEO campaign takes a minimum of 6 months to begin to show good results. This is an approximation - if the market is particularly competitive with many well-optimized websites competing for the same keyphrases it may take longer. Unlike on-site optimization it is not predominantly a one-time task - it is an ongoing process that must continually be carried out if rankings are to be gained and retained. The reason for this is that the landscape in which SEO is conducted is not static. Other competitor websites will also be engaged in SEO campaigns; new websites will be launched competing for the same keyphrases; existing websites will add new content or gain new in-bound links. And it's not only the competition you need to worry about. The major Search Engines regularly change the algorithms they use to determine website rankings.

There are number of elements to on-site optimization, and the precise balance of these elements will depend on the website being optimized and the competitive market in which it operates. These elements are:

Third-Party Directory Listings - This involves submission of a website to paid directories such as the Yahoo Directory. Search Engines pay attention to which websites are listed in paid directories for the very simple reason that if a website is in these directories then somebody must have paid the fees, which indicates that the website is serious and is likely to be around for some time. Conversely, if a website is in none of the paid directories, the Search Engines will take it less seriously.

Link-Building - Search Engines look at how many other websites link to the website they are assessing. The more high-quality in-bound links a website has, the higher the quality score it will be assigned. This sounds simple, but it isn't. The Search Engines are smart, and they are getting smarter all the time. Rather than just looking at just the number of links, they also look at the quality of the linking websites, and whether or not the links are reciprocated. In general, Search Engines give most weighting to non-reciprocated links from quality websites that are relevant to the website being linked to. And they will seriously penalize any website they find using link farms or any other unethical ("black hat") techniques. Quality link-building is a major part of any Digital Marketing Campaign, and for websites operating in a fiercely competitive marketing it is likely to be the key focus.

Press Release Syndication - Regular syndication of online press releases via a service such as PRWeb can have a positive effect on Search Engine rankings, as well as serving to generate interest in a website. There are some rules to observe, however. Press releases need to be timely and relevant - i.e. they must be newsworthy, and not simply sales materials. They also need to be properly formatted and grammatically correct. An incorrectly formatted press release containing errors of spelling and grammar is likely to be rejected by syndication services.

Content Syndication - One of the most significant developments on the Internet over the past few years has been the emergence of social media and Web 2.0 channels. Sites such as Wikipedia, MySpace, Digg and a multitude of consumer review sites and Blogs are rapidly changing the way content on the Internet is produced, with user-generated content fast becoming the new paradigm. Syndication of content and articles via online media channels and Web 2.0 sites is now an important part of a successful Digital Marketing campaign. Well written and engaging articles submitted via appropriate channels can be syndicated hundreds of times, which can generate public interest in a website and help increase its quality score on the major Search Engines.

Off-site optimization carries a weighting of approximately 75% towards a website's overall quality score.

In summary, Digital Marketing is not a technique but a range of techniques which must be carried out in the correct balance and which must be properly integrated if they are to be truly effective. Proper research is essential at the outset of a Digital Marketing campaign, and this should be followed by on-site optimization to ensure that the website is fully Search Engine compatible. Rankings can then be gained and kept through an ongoing programming of off-site optimization involving directory submissions, link building and content syndication.

Digital Marketing is not an overnight solution for attaining higher Search Engine rankings, but carried out correctly and consistently the long-term benefits make it one of the most cost-effective methods of online marketing.