Advertising (like everything else, it seems) has gone virtual. Marketing dollars that used to go into newspaper ads and the yellow-pages are now much better spent "getting found" online.
How do you make sure that prospects in Kansas City actually see your Website, and then become customers? Two elements are essential to implementing a successful online marketing strategy.
1. Build Search Engine Optimization into your Website from the beginning.
The best looking Website in the world is not much good if no one sees it—and let's face it, people are most likely to see your site if it shows up on the first page of a Google search.
There are good ways and bad ways to construct a site—with “good” and “bad” equating directly to how likely it is that your Website will rank high in the search engines. This process is known as Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.
Working effective SEO into your site is far easier to accomplish while it is being built—rather than postponing this initiative until later. David Roth, the Director of Search Engine Marketing for Yahoo!, writes about how even that Internet giant had to adjust to this reality:
“...it became obvious that we needed to build SEO into the product development cycle...Some very smart folks in our company really dug into the development process and identified several critical touchpoints in the product development cycle where SEO goodness needs to be assessed and addressed.”
Roth explains that tackling your SEO needs at the start of the project makes the site much more effective when it goes live—so more people will see it, more often. Hello effective advertising!
2. Hire An SEO Expert
Of course, as a small business owner, you may have no idea what makes for effective SEO, and what is just a waste of time, effort and money. That is why SEO is one of those areas where it definitely makes sense to hire an expert.
Good SEO is all about determining how Google (and other search engines—but mostly Google,) ranks Websites, and then modifying your site to best meet those criteria. The objective, of course, is to rank as highly as possible. Not only does this require very specialized skills—the relevant criteria are also constantly changing. Google continually adjusts its search processes to provide more accurate results, and to compensate for Website administrators who try to game the system.
Most small business owners have better things to do than to take up a second career as an SEO expert. That's why Lisa Barone with Outspoken Media recommends hiring someone who already knows the field:
“We used to say that if your business was small enough, that...SEO could be something left for the big dogs. After all, in local all you had to do was properly use your keywords and scoop up local citations and you’d do a pretty good job at ranking. However, that’s not the case anymore as Google dishes out local updates as fast as bloggers whip out sarcasm. Things are getting more complex, faster paced, and more involved all across the board. In today’s market, there are many important benefits that come with working with a professional SEO consultant.”
One of the most important benefits is giving you access to experienced help, so your Website can compete successfully online, while you continue to run all the other aspects of your business. This is certainly one situation where a proper “division of labor” pays worthwhile dividends.
What has been your experience with online marketing in general and SEO in particular? Let us know in the comments below...
About the Author: Brian S. Pauls graduated with a B.A. in Communication Arts from Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas. His 17 years of experience in the computer field have shown him an unmet need--the application of technology on a truly individual level. In an industry filled with "hardware" people rather than "people people," Brian's background in communication has been a tremendous asset. He founded PERASPERA CONSULTING, LLC to bring individualized technology solutions to clients who are tired of the "one size fits all" approach.
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