I am frequently approached by friends and acquaintances that want me to look at their website and tell them what’s wrong with it. They want to know why they’re not getting more visitors to their site. After looking at many small business websites, I can usually come up with one main critique, which is that when it comes to online marketing, you can’t just focus on one thing. This may seem to be the opposite of my recommendation, when I stressed that you must focus on “Just One Thing“, but while the one thing you need to focus on as a business is building trust with your customers, your online marketing strategy is composed of multiple facets and strategies, which can be divided into five major categories.
Focus on Your Website
Your website should be the hub of your online marketing, as it is the one piece of online real estate that you can own and completely control. If you don’t have complete control over your website, check out our guidelines to make sure you control your website. Your website should be the first place you put new information about your business, as well as any type of content that will help customers or potential customers find out more about your business and how it relates to them. Content marketing starts on your own website and flows out from there. While content may not be king, content is still extremely important.
Perform Basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Many marketers believe that SEO will fix all of your site’s problems. However, Google and Bing are constantly changing the search algorithms to try and give the user better results, so SEO tactics are constantly changing. Practices like keyword stuffing and link building, which could help your site rank higher a few years ago, can now result in having your site penalized or removed from the index. First, you should make sure your business has an established relationship with Google. What currently works (and has always worked) is to provide valuable content for your site visitors. As far as link building goes, it is still important, but you want to request links from people/organizations that you know and do business with. A link from a website is an endorsement for you and who links to you is just as important, if not more important, than how many links you have. Additionally, there are many business directory sites where you can list your site for free and receive valuable links back to your website.
Increase Your Local Presence
Over a year ago, Google announced that a third of all searches in Google have local intent, which means the user is searching for a place or information about a place. In response, Google has customized search result pages to show more local content. To that end, they have combined Google Places with Google+ to give a more comprehensive view of local businesses in the search results. As a small business, this is good news, because Google has given local businesses the tools to rank better locally. Therefore, it is vitally important that you set up your Google+ Local account, in addition to creating and maintaining a Google+ page for your business. Also, as part of your local strategy, you need to make sure that you have a customized experience for your mobile visitors, as mobile searching is projected to exceed desktop searching as early as next year (2015).
Participate in Social Media
Your social media presence is also extremely important, as many people look to social media first to investigate your business. Social media marketing doesn’t have to take a lot of time if you do it right, but you want to make sure you participate on the networks that makes sense for your business and where your customers are looking for you. You might want to take a quick look at this great infographic describing the different social media networks and how they can be used for your business or this breakdown of social media network usage. Once you choose which networks you want to focus on, create a social media posting plan and stick to it.
Analyze and Improve
Finally, how do you know if your strategy is working? You need to monitor your online marketing campaign for effectiveness. You can do this by setting up analytics reporting on your website and social media properties. A regular review of where your visitors are going and what they are doing on your properties will help you know what to change to improve your overall marketing strategy.
By focusing on these aspects of your digital marketing strategy, you will be off to a good start for 2014. Which of these areas are most challenging for you?