How expensive is your free marketing?

With in excess of 100 million websites on the internet, there is always competition to get your website listed on search engines like Google. For big companies and corporation’s conventional advertising has always been a part of promoting their brand or image.

For small companies and individuals who have no marketing budget, companies like Google, gave the promise of ‘free advertising’ for a piece of their online soul. But like all things starting in the USA, is there ever a free lunch, or are there hidden costs?


Small time, big aspirations
With a recession on and with tough times ahead, who wouldn’t want to promote their website for free?

SEO and Viral marketing are often suggested as a way to get your message out there cheaply.

In the early days this was very true, with a tweak here and there to your page copy, or playing with the html code could bring major advantages in getting you site listed well on search engines like Google.

Google encouraged this behaviour through its Adsense and Adwords products. If you could create a website that listed well on Google, and had millions of visitors, by showing adverts, every time someone clicked an advert, you made some cash. Even today this is widely popular. But its popularity is also its problem, within a short period of time all manner of websites appeared who sole aim was to encourage people to click adverts so the webmaster could earn money. The meant for a lot of ‘real’ websites there was real problems in getting people to visit their site, due to the over SEO of these false sites.

Since then there has been an ‘arms race’ between webmasters each trying to ensure their sites are seen on search engines like Google.

Its only time…..
Recently in a respected SEO forum, an idea was floated that it can take six months to promote a site on Google, building back links, optimising copy and performing all sorts of techy geeky witch craft. If these individuals were being paid to do this, how much would this cost?

With the average web designer earning £25,000 to £35,000 a year, £15,000 to make one site rank well.

Will the website generate £30,000 a year? Probably not, but the dream of free and easy money is such an extreme driving force it’s easy to forget the true cost of websites.

It’s totally viral (this week)
With websites like YouTube and Facebook becoming insanely popular, it was not long before the viral marketing campaign was launched. Quite simply why advertise a product when you can get a relatively small bunch of website users to do it for you.

Where large companies go, small independents follow and now these sites have become the latest battlefield for viral advertising. Go on Facebook and within minutes someone will have sent you a link to the latest funny or worthy cause video.

This mean as in the SEO search engine wars, the same is happening now on these viral sites, there is more and more competition.
For those with no real budgets, a lot of effort usually results in small amounts of success.

Old dogs with new tricks
Many years ago companies put real adverts in real newspapers, costing real money.
The result was a real return on their investment.

Why?

When your advert is not free, you compete with others who have paid, in real terms this mean less competition for your message.

If you want traffic for your website its easy, your either pay in money or sweat, and for the smartest website owners they do both.

If you’re not paying for something how much is it actually worth?