DIgital marketing is incredibly important for modern businesses, but it is not always fully understood. For those of us who run brick-and-mortar businesses and local shops, it’s easy to wish that we could ignore the world of digital marketing. It is full of confusing acronyms and tech speak, and our customers are local folks who love our business — so why can’t we just stay focused on the “real world?”

The answer is simple: our “real world” is incredibly interconnected with the world of the internet. Working with a digital marketing firm is the right move for modern businesses of all kinds, not just those business that are related to the internet or to technology, explain the digital marketing experts at Straight Marketing LLC. And digital marketing is only getting more important with each passing year. Here’s why.

Virtually everyone uses search engines

When Google was founded back in 1998, it was one of a handful of companies trying to catalogue the internet and make it easy to use. The idea was to allow internet users to submit queries — What’s the weather like? What is a good recipe for chocolate chip cookies? — and to then respond with a list of websites that best answer those queries.

Google and other search engines use secret algorithms to do this job. Back in the day, Google relied very heavily on links: the more links that went to a site, the better Google assumed that site was. Google still uses links, but its old algorithm seemed to value them very highly. Pretty soon, website owners were trading links. You may remember websites in the late 1990s and 2000s having big lists of links at the bottom of them. That was Google’s influence changing the internet.

These sites were trading links to get in Google’s good graces, and they were doing that for a simple reason: Google drives traffic. The more Google (and other search engines) like you, the more people you’ll reach. And for businesses, that means reaching customers.

The digital marketing concept of search engine optimization (SEO) is a very advanced version of what those link-swappers were doing back in the day. It’s about making your web presence more appealing to search engines, so that those search engines will make you more popular with customers.

And it has gotten more important since the early days of Google. Search queries rose in the 2000s and have reached staggering numbers in the 2010s.

Mobile search is on the rise

SEO was important to a lot of business from the start. But it become important to a whole lot more businesses when Google pioneered powerful new local search features.

Take a small-town pet shop. Such a brick-and-mortar store didn’t need to worry too much about Google when a search for “pets” turned up The pet shop may not have liked the idea of people buying from, but Google wasn’t a big factor — it wasn’t as though the local shop was going to outrank!

But years later, after was sent to live on a farm upstate, Google tried something new with its search. Using customer’s locations, it answered with more specific local results. Suddenly a search for “Pets” could turn up the competitor pet shop down the street — meaning our hypothetical local pet shop had to start worrying about its Google results if it wanted to win the business of customers who turned to Google instead of the Yellow Pages to find their local pet shop. The SEO arms race had reached the local business scene.

Search engine optimization has only grown more important to local business since. It was important to pop up on local results when a person about to run an errand searched for a business type, of course, but it’s even more important now that customers are searching while they run their errands. Most Americans have smartphones now, and a lot of those Americans are using those smartphones to perform local searches — local searches that result in purchases from local shops. With mobile search on the rise, local businesses must focus more and more on digital marketing.

Search engine optimization is just one powerful example of how digital marketing is becoming increasingly vital to an increasing number of businesses. With the amount of time that the average person spends online, it is clear that other digital marketing concepts — such as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising — are only becoming more important over time, too. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you can get buy without digital marketing. For modern business of all kinds, digital marketing is essential!

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