The Internet has only been part of our lives for a short period of time compared to newspapers, magazines, radio and television. Less than half of the consumers in the U.S. were on the Internet ten years ago. Today over 80% the population of the U.S. is now online. Internet World Stats reports that the number of global Internet users has exploded 480% in the past decade. That's a massive audience. Businesses and marketing companies have taken notice and budgets for Internet marketing campaigns like Social Media Marketing and Search Engine Marketing are growing. The Internet has fundamentally changed business marketing.
A study by the site eMarketer in late 2009 reported that social networking marketing is the fastest-growing area of online marketing. In the survey associated with this study, over a quarter of the companies said they planned to dedicate more resources to social media marketing. This means these businesses were shifting their focus to sites like Facebook and Twitter and away from traditional methods like email marketing and company websites.
It's not a mystery why companies are moving to social media marketing. On average, Internet users spend one sixth of their time online on social media sites. Together, Facebook and Twitter alone have over one billion members. That's a much bigger audience than traditional media. Combine that with the more personal aspect of social media and how it allows companies to reach customers on a more focused level, and it's easy to see exactly why marketing departments are flocking to social media.
Search engine marketing, or Search Engine Optimization, is all about increasing search engine visibility and being in the top searches, if not number one. That number one spot is a coveted position. Chitka Data Analytics reported that over 35% of searchers click that top result. That percentage is higher than ranks two through five combined. To fight for that top spot, businesses engage in search engine optimization. This is the practice of building a site infrastructure that will be graded higher by search engines, according to relevance. Sites like Google keep their exact criteria a secret but a god rule of thumb is that the best rankings are achieved through keywords and quality backlinks.
Keyword rank is boosted by mentions of a business' product or service and related terms in a site. For example, if a company is in the business of selling wireless routers, then "wireless routers"? would be the main keyword and should be mentioned frequently. Complementary terms like "switches", "Internet", "computers" and "Ethernet" would also be given weight in a keyword score. Sites like Google understand, however, that some webmasters might overuse keywords to game the system. This is called "keyword spamming". As a result of this, Google assigns only 25% of its score to keywords, according to Search Engine Watch. Google assigns more weight, around 40%, to backlinks. Backlinks are links to a company's site on other pages, such as other companies' sites, blogs and Facebook pages. High-quality backlinks are given added value. For example, if an ISP provides a backlink to your aforementioned wireless router company to recommend your routers, this is a very high quality backlink.
With the complexity of search engine optimization and the wide reach of social media, it's no wonder more companies are spending larger portions of their marketing dollars online. These companies are moving away from print and traditional media advertising as the online advertising trend continues to grow. A study by Deloitte Global Services predicted that soon, major marketers could dedicate half their budget or more solely to online marketing. This is fascinating considering the short period of time the Internet has been in our lives compared to print and electronic media.