For several years at Cazbah, we’ve put together a team to participate in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge here in the Rochester area. This race is about a 5K, so it is a nice, comfortable distance for reasonably novice runners. Not to mention it’s a good way to raise money for charity, while seizing an opportunity for some good team building time. We always have a great time, and some of us finish the race faster than others.
How does this relate to the world of online marketing? The metaphor I like to use is that marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. At Cazbah, we often run into people looking for a quick fix, who expect to be ranking number one in Google using some quick tricks. The truth is, online marketing takes hard, time-consuming work. With search engines getting better at qualifying and individualizing search results, there is so much more that goes into accomplishing a small business website’s goals than just writing some content with a select set of keywords.
So, how do you use online marketing strategies for small business website growth? Check out the next section!
The Long Haul
Internet marketing is a comprehensive process; it’s not a one and done type of deal. If you want your website to be successful, if you want to attract new prospects to your small business, if you want the sales to come rolling in, you need to be willing to put in continual and constant effort.
I would argue that internet marketing can be broken down into five main sections. It’s important to note that one section isn’t more important than another and you can’t cherry pick what actions you want to take either. They’re all important and they all need to be prioritized at some level for your small business to achieve success online.
These online marketing strategies are:
- Longtail Keyword Research
- Search Engine Marketing
- Local Optimization
- Content marketing
So, let’s talk a bit about what these terms mean and how you can implement them into your online marketing strategy for your small business website.
Over and over again, we’ve seen the importance that search engines and modern-day searchers place on well-developed websites with useful content. And essentially, that’s what each point in the list above hones in on…monitoring and developing quality content that can be indexed by search engines (like Google) and is beneficial to your target audience. Which leads me to the first point:
1. Longtail Keyword Research
First off, longtail keywords are keyword phrases of usually three words or more. Several data studies over the years have shown that online searches have grown to be more detailed and the more specific a search is, the less competing traffic there is to rank well in the SERP (search engine result page).
Targeting longtail keywords in your website content will also help bring the right type of traffic to your site. What I mean is, the people who are searching Google using longtail keyword phrases most often have a clear idea of what they’re looking for and when they see that your result is optimized for their exact search terms, they’ll be more likely to click it. Those people who are searching those specific keyword phrases may already have some background knowledge of your industry and will respond positively to the in-depth content for your result.
2. Search Engine Marketing (SEO)
In the world of internet marketing, SEO is what will make or break you. SEO is the process of taking your chosen keywords (see point #1 above) and including them intelligently (or optimizing) your website content with them in order to rank well in search results. The better your page content is optimized for your chosen longtail keyword, the better chance you have of ranking well on page one of Google. But, be careful not to “keyword stuff” your page with random inserts of your keyword. Google is smart enough to realize if you’re participating in “black hat” SEO techniques and will send your result to the depth of the Google result page.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, SEO is time-consuming and at times it can be frustrating too. So, you either need to buckle down and be willing to commit time in your day to routine SEO work, or partner with a web development and optimization company who can help you with it.
3. Local Optimization
Local search optimization is often an area which gets neglected, when in fact it can be one of the fastest paths to revenue. Many small business are so preoccupied with growing their reach beyond their local area that they sometimes forget to tap into the opportunities they have right down the road.
As a small business, you need to prioritize your local presence. It’s your local community who will support your shop, talk about you to their friends, and ask you to buy girl scout cookies. You need to get involved and you can do this online, as well as in person. If you haven’t yet, you need to create a Google My Business page and make sure your web pages are optimized with your location as well. That way, when someone performs a search like “machine shops near me” on their smartphone or “plumbing service in Rochester, NY”, your result will come up.
4. Content Marketing
Alright, we talked about longtail keywords and we talked about SEO, now comes the time to put it all together. Proper content marketing is how you take those keyword phrases, do your on page SEO work, and then publish it out on your website, your social media profiles, through email marketing, or even hard copy marketing materials. Content marketing is the words you use and the research you do that will draw high quality leads to your specialty small business.
Prioritize quality above all else when creating content. Is it useful? What question or problem does your content solve? The more useful and better developed your content is, the more clicks it will receive. And the more clicks your result receives, the higher your rank will be in Google.
You also have a lot of freedom in your content marketing efforts, so don’t be afraid to get creative and have some fun! Create a short video discussing your newest product, develop a colorful infographic outlining a case study, share a picture of your employees at your latest event, put together a slide share of your latest talk, the list goes on!
How do you know if your effort is paying off? How do you identify new opportunities? Trying to do this without effective measurement techniques is extremely difficult if not impossible, and will lead to inefficiency and inaccuracy. Enter Google Analytics.
Google Analytics, along with other useful (and FREE) Google Webmaster tools, are extremely beneficial in determining the progress, success, and problem areas on your website. Through Analytics, you’ll be able to see demographic information of the visitors coming to your site, you can look up your website’s most popular pages, trace back how visitors are getting to your site in the first place, and so much more! Make sure to review you analytics data on a regular basis and especially on a year-over-year basis to track how your small business is progressing.
None of these can be achieved overnight, no matter who promises you otherwise. The most effective method is to do your homework, develop a plan, and work through it. Take a look at the five point list of online marketing strategies small businesses can use above to help you pace yourself for long term online marketing success.