Internet Marketing – The Facts

Ten years ago, everyone had to have a website. Today, you not only have to have a website, but now it has to be SEO’d and Linked In to Facebook while you Tweet about your company’s latest App.

With an entirely new language to learn on top of all the technology, it’s not always easy to know where or how to start marketing your company online.

Our series of Fact Sheets offer more information about internet marketing. They’re designed to arm you with the knowledge to decide whether or not internet marketing is suitable for your company, and if so, the best approach to take.

This sheet deals with the basics by translating some of the commonly used words and phrases relating to internet marketing.

What is a Search Engine?

A web search engine is used when you search for information on the internet. Google is the most widely used search engine worldwide, with over 90% of internet browsers using Google to search for information. Yahoo! has approximately 4% share of the market and Bing (previously MSN Search) around 3%. Other search engines, such as Ask.com, mop up the remaining search enquiries.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimisation. It’s the phrase used to describe the techniques and processes used to improve your website’s ranking on search engines through ‘organic’ (or unpaid for) search results.

What is SEM?

SEM stands for search engine marketing. This phrase refers to all types of paid and unpaid marketing used to increase your website’s visibility on search engines.

What is internet marketing?

Internet marketing – also known as digital marketing – is an all-encompassing term used to describe all types of marketing and promotion of products and service, over the internet. It includes web marketing, online marketing, search engine marketing and email marketing.

What is email marketing?

Email marketing is a form of online direct marketing. It uses emails instead of postal letters or flyers to send out a marketing message to targeted audiences.

What are keywords and keyword phrases?

Keywords and keyword phrases are words and groups of words that people will use to search for your products and services. Taking The Design Mechanics as an example, keyword phrases that people looking for our services might use include, ‘design agency Huddersfield’ ‘Huddersfield design agencies’ ‘graphic designers West Yorkshire’ etc.

There are any number of keywords and keyword phrases that might be used to search for your company’s products and services. The skill is identifying the most relevant keyword phrases for your organisation.

Why is Google so important?

Google is an American company that provides a range of internet services. One of the most common is Google’s search engine, which allows people to search for answers and information on the internet. It is the most widely used search engine in the world, with a worldwide market share of over 90%. Google logs a reputed 2 billion searches a day, in other words, an estimated 300 million people use Google to search for the products/services/information they’re looking for, every day. That’s why a number one spot on Google is so coveted.

How does Google’s search work?

When you type a keyword or keyword phrase into Google, it scans the internet for sites that contain those words and phrases. In a fraction of a second, it ranks the sites depending on the number of times the words are used, where the words are used, how the site links to others and the site’s quality. For an excellent explanation, visit www.google.com/howgoogleworks/

What is Google AdWords?

Google AdWords is the advertising arm of Google. It allows you to advertise on the pages that appear when certain keywords or keyword phrases are entered into Google’s search engine. See www.google.com for more information.

What is PPC and how does it work?

PPC stands for ‘pay per click’. It’s a method commonly used to charge for internet adverts. The advertising pays a set amount every time a browser clicks on the advert. As you only pay a few pence when (and only when) someone clicks on your advert, it can be a very efficient form of advertising.

Buyer beware:costs can soon add up as you also pay if someone clicks on your advert by mistake or clicks through and then leaves your site within seconds.

PPC is no guarantee that someone will purchase your products and services. That’s why it’s crucial that you’ve researched thoroughly the relevant key words and have an effective, professional looking website that is easy to navigate and encourages the browser to take the action you want them to take (i.e. call you/purchase your products).

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.

Is Search Engine Marketing right for you?

The internet provides a wealth of marketing opportunity – just think the entire world sitting at their computers, waiting to hear about your products and services.

Or are they?

Cyberspace is a huge place – billions of searches taking place on hundreds of millions (maybe more) websites by tens of millions of users. While your customers will be out there somewhere, how will they ever come across your website? And that’s assuming they’re actually searching for your products or services.

So if it’s such a hopeless case, why are so many people investing large percentages of their promotional budgets on internet marketing?

The truth is, for many companies the internet offers huge potential for them to connect with people who are looking for and want their products and services.

But, before you embark on the time-consuming (and possibly, expensive) quest to get your company to number one on Google, find out if anyone is actually searching for your products or services – you might be surprised by the results.

Buyer beware: this is a point that many SEO companies gloss over. While thousands of people daily might be searching for florists, books and DVDs, it’s not necessarily the case for rubber roller manufacturers in Yorkshire, or Design Agencies in Marsden!

Where are they looking for you?

The first thing to establish is whether or not your potential customers are using the internet to search for your products or services online.

It’s relatively easy to find out how many internet searches are taking place each month for your products and services by following the steps below:

Step 1 Choose your keywords

Decide which words or phrases your customers or potential customers would type into Google to search for you. These are your keywords or keyword phrases.

Using The Design Mechanics as an example, we might choose ‘design agency’ or ‘graphic design agency’ or even ‘logo designers’ as keyword phrases. If you’re unsure as to which words are most relevant, it’s worth asking your existing customers which words or phrases they would use to search for your services.

Step 2 Add a geographical phrase (if relevant)

Decide whether your customer would include a geographical phrase to narrow the field. In our example, clients usually want to work with someone local, so it’s probably worthwhile adding ‘Yorkshire’ or ‘West Yorkshire’ to our keyword phrase. Certain businesses, such as restaurants, will need to be even more geographically relevant by using the name of a town or city, eg. ‘Italian restaurants Leeds’.

Step 3 Check your phrases on Google adwords

To access Google adwords, type in the following web address: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

In the central section, where it says ‘Find keywords’ and below ‘Word or phrase’ type your keywords or keyword phrases into the box (one per line)

Click on the grey ‘search’ button .

After a few seconds, a list of keywords will appear with two columns of figures. ‘Global Monthly Searches’ and ‘Local Monthly Searches’.

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.