Everything you add to the Internet will either help or hurt you tomorrow. Every piece of content has a long shelf life.
Your marketing strategy today could be a onetime use, or it could add to the cumulative benefit you create to build your brand awareness.
Typical search engine marketing includes paid ads or paid strategies that only have a value while you're paying for them. That value goes away as soon as you stop paying for it.
This can clearly be seen in any large marketing company service, like Yellow Pages, that produce really good results as long as you keep paying them. But once you stop paying them, they delete their unique campaign marketing strategy, leaving you with nothing to show for even after you've paid into that service for quite a long time.
This is completely contrary to typical search engine optimization where you would figure out how to build content on your website, and through social media, continually bring people back to your website. This is the brand building process that takes a long time
because it takes months to figure out what best content and optimization techniques will attract the most customers to your website.
The difference between search engine optimization, SEO, and search engine marketing, SEM, is that the marketing process works a lot faster with SEM because you're paying for it. You also have slightly fewer restrictions of the type of marketing you can do and the content you can create.
The SEO process has a lot of restriction imposed by the search engines because they have ways to prevent you from gaming their system. The search engines strive to give an equal chance to all websites.
Google has a very severe penalty policy if they catch you trying to game their system. So not only does SEO take a longer amount of time but you also have the chance of losing all of your ranking if you break Google's policies. Their policies have become stricter over the last few years as they discovered how some brands figured out how to take advantage in loopholes in Google's methods of search results ranking.
Google does periodically change is its policies and someone in your organization should be paying attention to that, otherwise you might find yourself on the wrong side of their policies, which will lead to ranking penalties.
Like every part of your business plan and marketing plan, search engine optimization needs to be carefully planned out
with specific goals.
It's okay to buy into those services from the Yellow Pages as long as you understand what the long-term usefulness will be, and as long as they fit into your plan.
I personally prefer marketing services that will not be deleted once you stop paying for them. This would include marketing companies who produce content to your Facebook page, your Google+ page, and other social network accounts that you own. They are able to add longterm value into your accounts when you grant them access. Again, these are your existing social accounts I'm referring to. Don't allow them to create new social accounts that they would then delete at the termination of their contract.
On the other hand I do not recommend hiring a company that will create special websites for you and then target those websites with Google AdWords ads.
For example, Yellow Pages and Reach Local are notorious for creating alternative domain names that looks similar to your own but they are used for AdWords targeting. These domain names might simply be the .net or .org alternative to your real domain name, but then get deleted once you stop paying for their service.
While the service is running these domain names are also building up credibility and search ranking, all of which is immediately lost when you stop paying for it. This process completely works against the long-term benefit of SEO and brand building for you.
So as you plan your online marketing strategies, whether using SEO or SEM, make sure everything you do involves future planning. Don't take the shortest path to assumed or even "guaranteed" ranking success. Even Google says there's no way to guarantee ranking results as you can see here
Do it right and plan for infinity.
I don't meant that it will take an infinite amount of time to succeed, but rather, plan for how your content will appear for the infinite life of the internet, or at least your business.
When done right, the overall online marketing process takes more time to implement correctly, but that's certainly easier than dealing with the penalties you received when taking shortcuts for ranking that somehow break Google's search policies.