In today’s Internet age, being a small business owner, operator or employee is often synonymous with being an online marketing expert. It’s simply not enough to have a decent website anymore; you now have to think about how everything associated with your company’s online presence (social media, blog posts, guest articles, etc.) impact not only your sales but also your business’s image as a whole. Online marketing is all about optimizing your business in all of the right ways.
As a writer of content developed specifically for online consumption, I’ve learned a few lessons. Here are five tips to help small businesses optimize their online marketing efforts.
1. Develop a content strategy.
Of course I’m biased because I’m a writer, but many online marketers I work with know that well-written content is key to maximizing any online marketing strategy. Work with a writer (or think like a writer) to stock your website and blog with original, well-written, informative and relevant content, and continue this trend throughout all aspects of your online presence. During the past year Panda, Penguin and other smaller algorithm changes have allowed Google to easily separate good content from the bad. If you’re smart about the content you publish, Google will consider your site to have authority, which can improve your website’s online visibility.
2. Go social.
Now more than ever, social media is a crucial part of any B2C or B2B online marketing campaign. During the past year, social media has become an increasingly relevant factor in the SEO game. Quality engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social media profiles is an important component of how authoritative Google considers your site to be. Build up your profiles by completing all profile information (including links to your website), posting positive information frequently (at least once each day), sharing relevant photos, and encouraging your fans/followers/connections to do the same. The more quality content you provide for people to talk about — by asking questions, requesting customer feedback, etc. — the more engagement you’re likely to get.
3. Update regularly.
I already touched on regularity and how it pertains to social media, but regularity is also important for media outlets that supplement your website, such as a blog. There are several benefits of having a blog — most important of which is having a credible, informative source that connects to your website. Because Google values fresh content, having a quality blog that you update at least a few times each week is a great way to give an extra boost to other SEO techniques that you’re already taking the time to do.
4. Keep an eye on your competitors.
Competition is natural part of business. For example, my surety bond company is competitive with other surety bond companies because we provide the same product. Internet marketing, however, magnifies this competition. With online marketing — in any industry — it becomes easy to see what a business does and whether it works or not. The proof is in how Google ranks various sites, even if a change in rankings comes two to three months after a new online marketing strategy is tested. The bottom line is to keep an eye on how your competitors approach online marketing; there’s probably a reason they’re spending time and money on specific things.
5. Develop a plan, but be flexible.
Running a business means you need to have a business plan. Marketing a business, on the other hand, means you need to be flexible and adapt to the ever-changing rules of search engines. This requires a lot of trial and error. Whether you want more Facebook fans, more website visitors per day or more conversions, don’t be afraid to change your plan if you don’t get the results you’re looking for. Online marketers must learn from their mistakes and adapt quickly if they want to make it to the top of the SEO results and then, more importantly, stay there.
Of course, every online marketing professional’s list of tips is different. Why? Because different strategies are more effective for different industries, different geographic areas and different audiences. These are a few of the techniques that have worked for me. I’d love to find out what strategies have worked for you. Sound off in the comments!
About the Author
Sara Aisenberg is a member of the online education team for SuretyBonds.com, a nationwide surety bond producer. Through her writing, Sara strives to help entrepreneurs of all types make the most of their marketing efforts. Keep up with Sara on Twitter and Google+.