Getting your business online should be one of your highest priorities of your marketing strategy. Going digital is no longer an option in todays internet-centered world and to be successful you must have an online presence.
Understanding the goals that you want to achieve through your website will determine what type of website you will want to build (or have built). Selling a product? eCOmmerce. Provide basic information? Business card! Show off your work history? Portfolio! Establish yourself/your company as an expert in your field? With so many options to choose from, it’s very important to understand the short term and long-term goals for your site.
Remember, forsaking mobile friendliness is no longer an option. Thanks to Mobilegeddon in 2015, mobile should be on you radar in a huge way. Your site should be responsive (m. sites no longer count!). Plan in advance and test on multiple devices, operating systems, browsers, and screen sizes. You should address these issues with the person(s) that will be building your website.
Secure your website. This might mean a firewall, an SSL (secure certificate), or protection from a service like Sucuri. Whatever shape your web security takes, make sure you address it before it becomes a problem for your users.
Optimize your website. This could be something as simple as setting title tags and meta descriptions, or this could be as involved as hiring an outside SEO company. Either way, your site should be evaluated for basic optimization standards.
The key to determining your social media strategy is knowing what works for you as well as knowing what works for your target market. There’s no point to starting a Twitter account unless you’re interested in being an active user. Additionally, there’s no point in being on Twitter in your targeting a 65-year-old female.
According to HootSuite.com, “Only 13 percent of those aged 50 to 64 use Twitter. Once Internet users hit age 65, they essentially disappear from Twitter altogether, with only six percent of senior citizens using the service.” On the flipside, “high-school-aged teens are the most active age demographic on the social network: a full 42 percent of online youth aged 15 to 17 use Twitter.”
Doing an in-depth analysis of your target market’s social use habits, will allow you to determine the most efficient way to utilize social media to reach them. I think it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway — you should consider more than just Twitter when evaluating your social media strategy!
Pay Per Click Advertising
Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising seems like an easy solution to “how do we get visitors to our site?” PPC can work against you if you’re not careful. Let’s say that you have a PPC budget of $5,000 per month. That’s great! This spend gains you $10,000 in business. Even better! But what happens when you no longer have $5,000 to spend every month? Chances are as soon as you stop spending that PPC money, the business gained is lost.
I prefer to treat PPC as a compliment to organic inbound marketing efforts. I find better success when PPC is used for keywords that you are not already ranking organically for. Once you begin to rank organically for key terms you’re after, that PPC budget to be moved to new terms. This cycle allows you to gain new visitors in the short term while developing long term success.
Inbound Marketing (SEO)
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the name given to activity that attempts to improve search engine rankings. In search results Google™ displays links to pages it considers relevant and authoritative.
If your company has the resources (mainly time and/or money) to put effort into an optimization plan, you should follow through. However, the bare bones of optimization can be boiled down to three steps.
Write useful original content using words and phrases used by users who might search for your product/service.
Make it shareable, accessible, digestible, and linkable.
Rinse. Repeat regularly.
If you want to learn more about search engine optimization, I would recommend starting off with The Beginner’s Guide to SEO by MOz.com.
Allocating a budget for local optimization only applies if your physical location is imperative to the success of your business. Restaurants, store fronts, cafes, doctors, etc all have a need for local optimization.
Search engines like consistency. Actively taking control of your location information to guarantee the consistency of your Name, Address, and Phone (often referred to in the SEO world as NAP) is one of the steps to attaining a position in the local pack. If someone searches for ‘tacos 33405’ then you want to be the first result in the local pack and now that Google only shows 3, rather than 5 or 7, it’s even more imperative that you show up first.
So how do you take control of all of those known (Yelp, Facebook, Foursquare, YellowPages, Google My Business, Hotfrog) and then lesser-known (InsiderPages, CitySearch, Acxiom, Infogroup, Localeze, Factual etc) NAP aggregators? Do what the pros do… pay for a monitoring service like Yext or Moz Local and use it to your advantage. It’s in your best interest to do you research with this though. Some local listing companies will remove your listings if you ever close your account. Make sure that you have hands on control of these listings (they are yours, after all).
Content is King
When it comes to dominating the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), nothing beats good content. A website that has little to no additional organic optimization will eventually rank very well if the site has original, well-written, regular content. (Keep in mind, the term eventually refers to a potentially long period of time, usually in years.)
There are three classifications of searches conducted by users:
Ad hoc search, the searcher’s goal is to find as many relevant documents as possible about a topic, as the need arises.
A Known Item Search is similar to an ad hoc search but the target of the search is a particular document, or a small set of documents, that the searcher knows to exist and wants to find.
A named page search, the web searcher wishes to go to a specific page within a website, a page that the searcher recalls seeing or visiting at a previous time.
Writing content that focuses on supplying the answers to one of the types of searches is your goal. Answer the readers’ question and make your website the end of their search.
The best thing you can do to achieve success for the digital side of your business is to invest in it. The online presence is no longer an option and people expect you to be fully functional. This means you must treat your website, social media, and any other online avenue with respect and legitimacy.