How to Market your Business Online

Once you’ve established that potential customers are searching for your products and services online, you can start thinking about an internet marketing strategy.

The principles of internet marketing assume that your website should be the central focus of your business marketing activity and that all other marketing activity should drive potential clients to your website.

But, it’s important use your common sense – if you’re a business that can only service local customers eg. town centre sandwich shop, then you’ll only want to attract local visitors to your website.

As the above example illustrates, internet marketing is like any other promotional strategy – it must be targeted, measurable and professional. It’s a process that takes hard work, time and sustained effort.

How search engines ‘find’ your website

Search engines use an algorithm (in Google’s case a closely guarded secret) that takes a snapshot of your website and compares it to the search request. In simple terms the algorithm is based on two main areas:

  • Your website’s content
  • The links to and from your website to other sites

Google assesses your website and builds its own keyword list based on what it sees (the words) on your site.

Get the basics right

Before you even contemplate an internet marketing campaign, make sure that your website is capable of converting browsers into customers.

As a test, use Google to search for your own products or services and take a good look at the top ten websites that appear in the results – these are competing for the browser’s attention. How does your website compare to their website? Remember, it’s in your interests to be honest with yourself.

1. Design:

Your website should look professional, be easy to navigate, clearly identify what your business does and include a call to action (i.e. ‘call today’ / ‘buy now’) that converts interest into enquiries and sales.

2. Keywords:

Refine and confirm your keywords and keyword phrases – the words that potential customers will probably use when searching online for your products and services (see Fact Sheet 2 for more about generating keywords).

3. Text:

As Google and other search engines interrogate your site for particular keywords, it’s important that you litter your site with the words and phrases that people are using to search for your products. See below for more about SEO copywriting.

It’s generally accepted that your website will need refreshing or redesigning every 2-3 years to make sure that it remains up to date with your business, industry and the latest technology. For instance, any website using Flash elements needs to be re-designed as iPhone and iPad users can’t see Flash in their browser.

How to write a good blog

Let’s start with the basics – why are you blogging and why do you think you should? This is an important question to answer as it will inform the style and content of your articles and keep you focussed. Essentially an effective blog has three very important strings to its bow – It’s part of your marketing strategy, it’s there to help with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and it’s there to generate leads.

What’s a blog?
A blog is an article to engage with current and potential customers. It is a personal reflection of your area of expertise. A good blog interests and builds trust in the reader, who will be willing when asked to take action in some way.

Shaping your blog
There is a lot to consider when setting out on a blog but it’s worth keeping a framework in mind rather than just free-writing to make it most effective.
So here is my baker’s dozen guide on how to shape your blog:

1. Title – It’s worth taking time to get this right as your title has a lot of work to do! It needs to be attention grabbing, tempting the reader to engage with the article and it absolutely must contain the keyword relevant to your website to make it visible to search engines – no use posting a blog if no one can find it.

2. Headings – As above – use plenty of headings containing keywords and make sure the paragraphs under the headings also contain keywords. This will help bolster your organic SEO ranking.

3. Make it easy to scan – people don’t necessarily want to read large blocks of text – if you ‘chunk’ your information – people will invariably scan the headings and then delve in further when a title grabs their attention.

4. Make your blog somewhere in the region of 250 – 550 words in length. Although there is great debate on the subject and effective articles can be less or far more than this, my advice is that this benchmark will serve you well for most blog articles.

5. What you should write about – Your blog is a way to show your potential customers what you know and how you add value if they buy your goods and services – write about what you know in your industry and what your opinion is of it.

6. Images & videos add interest to the reader and if you alt tag them add interest to Google.

7. Links – make relevant external links and links to other areas of your website. Again this adds interest for the reader and the search engine.

8. References – back up your subject by referencing other people’s work/articles/websites – don’t be afraid to be a ‘curator’ and link to external sources that have informed you.

9. Proof read your article – grammatical and spelling errors can undermine your efforts so it’s worth stepping back and then re-reading with fresh eyes (or get someone to read it for you).

10. Write for your readers – I know I have been banging on about the importance of keyword placement and visibility for Google-bots but please, there is nothing so transparently dull as a website or blog that is only written to flirt with Google. It’s always noticeable and it certainly cramps the readability of it!

11. Include a ‘call to action’ – what would you like the reader to do at the end of the article? – get in touch? Check out your product or service? Subscribe to your blog/mailing list? Share your article with others? Whatever it is make it easy for them – put your social media links on so people can share it – ask them for their opinions with a link to your email or contacts page. Link them to the area of your website you are informing them about.

12. Write regularly – this will build you brand and your visibility and don’t forget to announce your latest articles on your other social media forums.

13. Please enjoy it! – Write about what you know and what you do like you are talking to that potential customer over a cuppa – you can still be an expert over a cuppa!

If on the other hand the task seems too onerous and time consuming, consider buying in the services of a copy writer who can take your ideas and compose written material on your behalf.