Growing Sales By Being Digitally “Smart” – Search Engine Marketing
As an entrepreneur, business owner or non-profit leader, you have likely encountered a confusing, almost dizzying amount of advice about being successful online. We’ve distilled the best practices and the results we’ve achieved for clients over the last 14 years and spanning many industries. This is meant to be an easy, fast read and can also be used as a checklist. Perhaps you’re a little suspicious? Why trust me or this article? Being totally transparent with you, I successfully coped with uncertainty and lack of structure growing up in my family. I’m in this business because I enjoy seeing businesses go from confusion to clarity to success. I’ve also been a key player in several software startups and I’ve seen first-hand both success and dire failure. Clarity begins to happen after several meetings and we either review or create a marketing plan together. We look at all the forms of marketing and advertising, compare costs and we explain the advantages of a mix of both traditional and digital marketing strategies. Then we go to work.
#1 Get Smart
Your greatest challenge is to be found. Only 2 of 5 small businesses have a website. A solid marketing presence starts with the selection of a website platform and content management system (they go together). This means you want to specify a “HTML5, CSS3 website” (CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets and it’s this tool that gives the web developer flexibility over the navigation and fonts and colors of website pages, not found in free or low-cost hosted websites).
We like both WordPress and SquareSpace or a custom CMS that has been developed using the same “backend” technology. They each deliver a “HTML5, CSS3 website”.
Mobile device “friendly” means the website should use “responsive design” – one piece of code on the website versus time and dollars involved in creating separate mobile websites. With a solid mobile version of your website, Google will not penalize your website in their search engine rankings. You can check the status of your website with a free Google tool at https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
#2 Work with a partner.
Most entrepreneurs do not have or should not be spending the time to actively monitor changes instituted by the major search engines in the way they index and crawl websites. Even more importantly, is use of keywords and search engine results status. A strong Search Engine Marketing (SEM) partner will create a list of “top of the funnel”, “middle of the funnel” and “bottom of the funnel” keywords and with the help of software, monitor how well the keywords are doing that appear on your website and in content you distribute. Our company prefers working with businesses, regardless of size, on a long-term basis in order to properly monitor, report and compare status against at least three competitors.
#3 Get Involved.
Dina Hanna, Marketing Manager at Agile Search Marketing says “The way I like to think about it is two-fold. One, you need a team dedicated to your digital marketing and strategies. Your brand is your money-maker because all your values and ideals revolve around that name and culture. … The second side of this strategy, is to focus on which channels make sense for your business. A great brand that I love is MyFitnessPal. It started out as a calorie-counting phone application, and has morphed into a fitness center. What tools do they use? In addition to their app and website, they utilize Facebook, Twitter, and my personal favorite – Pinterest. See http://agilesearchmarketing.com/2014/10/27/tips-to-build-your-brand-from-within/ for the complete blog post.
Our advice is to start with small steps and continue to grow with small steps. The most important element of digital marketing is that you’re comfortable with the pace and direction.
#4 Get Some Immediate Attention – Post to Local Sites
Insist when using an SEM company that they add your business to only top local and citation sites that will list your business and allow additional content like video, reviews, articles, etc. For starters, we recommend adding your business/non-profit to Google for Business, Yahoo! Local, Bing Local and Localeze – this means people can find you and contact you easily. The list is longer but this is a good start. For more info, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Localeze or contact us. For our clients, we use a service called Moz Local which automatically submits to the following sites:
#5 Advertise using Google AdWords for both desktops and mobile devices.
AdWords not only gets your Ads seen on Page 1 of Google for a reasonable cost (they charge by the cost-per-click and you set a daily budget), but they offer fantastic tools such as their Keyword Tool that helps you determine which keywords are highly competitive (based on what Google knows about the bidding and position of Ads on Google). Also, AdWords complements your SEO (search engine optimization) efforts. You can count on many people seeing your Ad (impressions) and you are only charged when someone clicks on your Ad. It’s a Win-Win.
#6 As mentioned above, if it’s not already, make your website mobile-friendly.
This may require a website redesign and upgrade to WordPress or Squarespace or you have the option of asking your web developer to create a separate mobile site (versus “responsive design” that is now common when doing a redesign and upgrade).
#7 Use video and post on YouTube to make a personal connection to your audiences.
#8 Use channels like this one, Spark It Network to publicize your content and build your brand.
#9 Use Google Analytics to determine how many, from where and what pages visitors are viewing on your site and via mobile.
#10 Take a seat at the social media table – 27% of time spent online is social media.
As mentioned above, our favorites are LinkedIn (for B2B), Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Match the social media channel to your target demographic market!
#11 Use Google AdWords and Google For Non-Profits.
As mentioned above, this is the ideal complement to your SEO efforts. Go a step further however and use settings and extensions (there are 11 of these including “location” and “site maps” and “click to call” for mobile devices). You will not find access or the same level of flexibility in Google AdWords Express. We recommend Google AdWords;
#12 Respond to negative reviews – consider cloud-based review management software.
Most entrepreneurs do not have the time to setup a Review Management process. We recommend a cloud-based Review Management platform. Contact us for a recommendation @ http://agilesearchmarketing.com/contact ;
#13 Use video to create a personal connection.
Distribute the videos widely and include the link to your website in the first two lines of the video description. Include a call-to-action in the video;
#14 Track everything.
Tools like Omniture and others exist. Google Analytics is a free tool that easily integrates with your WordPress dashboard.
#15 Review highly recommended resources:
Video with Fred Vallaeys, Google AdWords Evangelist
that forms the basis for some of the points in this article:
Finally, we understand the world of digital marketing can be and is confusing. We appreciate the time you’ve taken to review these steps. We trust you will find the information and tips here beneficial to your business or non-profit. Drop us a line or add your email to receive our monthly newsletter, full of tips and inspirational articles to keep you at the top of your game!
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- Growing Sales By Being Digitally “Smart” – Search Engine Marketing - November 2, 2015