Google Ads are one way to appear at the top of Google search results, target your specific audience, and build brand recognition, but as we’ve discussed before, they aren’t for everyone, due to the steep learning curve and requiring a decent budget and time commitment.

So how can you target your audience, appear at the top of search results, and build name recognition without using Google Ads?

The two main options to accomplish a lot of what Google Ads offers with less of a financial and time commitment are social media advertising and content marketing.

Each social media platform offers different types of advertising, all with the ability to target specific audience segments based on things like age range, location, job title, and interests. From ad images and videos, to promoted posts, there are a variety of options for any type of businesses. The best part is that you select the budget and length of the ad campaign (obviously the success of each campaign will vary depending on the budget and length of the campaign, so plan wisely).

However, selecting your audience for social media ads may be limited based on your industry and the platform. Facebook, for instance, has “special ad categories” for topics like Housing (including Real Estate), Employment, Credit, and Social Issues / Politics,  all which have special requirements that have to be met in regards to the audience in order to post an ad or promote a post. Regardless, you’re still able to get in front of your target audience in a much more cost-effective way than Google Ads.

Content marketing is probably the best (and least expensive) way to appear at top of Google search results. Having a blog on your website that you post on regularly will increase the keyword density on you website, thus helping your organic search ranking. If you have a WordPress website, using the Yoast plugin is an easy way to set up your meta descriptions and meta tags to improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and increase your chances of getting found.

The more content you do on you’re your knowledge bases will help position you as a thought leader in your industry. When people search for the topics you’re blogging about and see numerous results for your website, it automatically leads to credibility.

Google searches are one of the first things that journalists, reporters, bloggers, and other media professionals—including ones from major news sources, publications, and websites—do when they are working on stories. If your blogs come up in the search results multiple times, there’s a good chance they contact you for a quote or interview, to be a podcast guest, or to write a guest blog on another site.

Drive traffic to your blog by posting a link with an image (the image part is VERY important since posts with images or videos capture more attention than plain text posts). Social media posts send it out to your followers and can even be made into social media ads or be promoted (see what I did there?).

Hash tags can be key to getting your content found on any social media network. However, be sure to research hash tags before using them- you want to be using terms that are actually being searched. If you’re the only one to ever use the hash tag, or if only a few people have ever used it that means your audience isn’t searching for it. You also want to be sure the hash tag isn’t an official trademark of another company (yes, the USPTO allows hash tags to be trademarked). Be weary of using acronyms as hash tags too- they can often stand for something completely different than your intention.

Last but not least, be sure to do a “What’s New” post on your Google My Business page. I refer to this “SEO secret sauce” as “offering a sacrifice to the gods,” as Google LOVES posts on Google My Business and posting there automatically helps your search engine ranking.

Google Ads, social media advertising, and content marketing are just some of the tools available to build a strong marketing strategy- you just have to find what works best for you business and what mix works best in reaching your target audience. If you need help with Google ads, social media ads, or content marketing, contact us today.