I am an ardent supporter of creating great quality content that ranks well in Google search for marketing purposes.
Recently, however, I have been forced to concede that organic traffic from Google is no longer reliable enough.
Since 2012 Google's search results have been in upheaval, and while the general thrust of the changes are to improve search results and cut out spam, there has been significant collateral damage along the way.
This article will look at some of the best alternatives to content, SEO and organic search traffic to help ensure that your business enjoys reliable, high quality traffic that brings in sustained profits.
1. Email marketing
While organic traffic may disappear overnight as Google tweaks its algorithms:
The profile for email traffic is much more dependable.
Building a mailing list does take time and effort, and also relies, to some extent, on organic search traffic - i.e. people need to find your site in order to subscribe in the first place.
But, by making newsletter sign-ups a priority on your site, you should be able to build up a reasonable size opt-in list that is already predisposed to your products, content, and services.
Managing a newsletter is really quick and easy using modern, online services, so if you aren't already using one of the leading services, check out our comparison of GetResponse vs. Constant Contact that includes a step-by-step GetResponse startup guide.
What's nice about email is that it relies on the same great quality content that you need to generate for SEO and organic search traffic in the first place.
In essence, you are killing to birds with one stone. And, while Google is sending you plenty of organic search traffic, it shouldn't be too hard to convince people to sign-up.
Then, if your page rankings take a tumble, you have a built-in insurance policy in the form of a nice list full of qualified leads that you can reach out to on a weekly/monthly basis.
2. Social media
In the same way that email is based on content, so social media marketing relies on the generation and delivery of creative, insightful, engaging, and buzzworthy content.
What makes social such a great alternative to SEO is that it is possible to leverage all sorts of different media and different channels to reach out to people that you might otherwise not find traction with.
You can make video clips and post them on YouTube. Grow a following of people interested in your videos, and use that to link back to your own Web properties to boost conversions:
Share original images on Pinterest to spark interest in what you are doing.
The more media you generate, the more options are available to you to grow the number of fans and followers you can reach via the major social networks.
While social media can potentially deliver huge numbers of connections, be aware that many of those connections are not necessarily in the right space to convert (make a purchase, sign up to a service, etc).
Social media can be better viewed as a platform to build trust, brand, and authority. It's not always the best place to drive sales from because the user intent to purchase is rarely there.
As frustrating as it might seem to have access to the entire world online, yet be forced to focus on your local market, don't be put off.
Local brand identity, with a solid local footprint, and local trust and authority, go a long way in helping to improve your chances of ranking in Google.
Not only that, but many people are in fact searching for local products and services whenever they are online.
Ensure that your company is properly listed in all local directories - especially ones that count, like Google places for business:
The nice thing about going local is that it tends to be a once-off effort that has long lasting effects - i.e. once you are listed, that listing will continue to drive traffic for a long time to come.
Having said that, there is nothing worse, from the perspective of a customer, than encountering an out of date or incorrect listing. Make sure that whatever local listings you setup are maintained properly.
In addition, you should also find that local advertising is also far cheaper and more effective than more generic or large-scale advertising - both online and offline.
Dollars invested locally are far more likely to bring higher returns (all other things being equal).
What other alternatives are there to SEO and content? Have you been affected by Google and forced to rely on other methods of promotion?
Share your tips and experiences in the comments.