Although many old-school business owners are opposed to this whole “interweb thing”, a website is absolutely essential to success in today’s market. However, simply having a website is not enough; if you don’t market it, you’ve built a home on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with the hopes that someone will happen to pass by. Without an online marketing strategy, your website is just going to sit there year after year and become outdated and more and more irrelevant.
An effective online marketing strategy involves a wide range of internet marketing techniques, and the question you should always be asking yourself is “Does this add value to the internet?” If your answer to that question is “yes”, then what you’re trying to do is probably a good idea; if your answer is “no”, don’t do it! The best way to foolproof your website from Google penalties is to focus on quality, white-hat strategies that will withstand algorithm updates. If it looks shady, it probably is; if a service is offering a quick, easy solution to getting ranked and it seems too good to be true, it probably is. There are no shortcuts in an online marketing strategy; like anything worthwhile in this world, it takes hard work, dedication, and, most importantly, time.
Your online marketing strategy should be broken up into several parts: Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Marketing (SMM), and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
The core of any SEO or SEM campaign is keyword research, and you can kill two birds with one stone with initial keyword research. Utilizing Google’s Adwords Keyword Research Tool you can determine which keywords you’ll want to focus on. Start with some core phrases, such as “wedding photographer”, and check the keywords that seem relevant. When done with the list, download those keywords to .csv and organize them into category (we use color coding for this).
If you want to get traffic to your site immediately, your best bet is to run Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns on either Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Yahoo and Bing are generally cheaper, but get far less traffic than Google, so let’s focus on Google’s PPC advertising, Adwords. Using your already compiled list of keywords, create campaigns for keyword groupings and activate the campaign. When first starting out, it’s a good idea to automate the campaign and let Google do the bidding for you.
The SEO portion of your campaign will focus on on- and off-site changes to your site that will help with organic search engine rankings.
Using those keywords you can modify Title tags, descriptions, and content on your site to include the most-searched, most-relevant phrases, making sure not to overuse them so much that content doesn’t sound natural. Next, go through your site and work on your internal linking.
Once your site is fully optimized, it’s time to move on to off-site factors that promote your site. Step one: send out a press release announcing your new online web presence. PrWeb is good for this. Next you’ll need to get links to the site, which can be done by analyzing competition with a program such as ahrefs.com. You’ll also want to join any chambers of commerce that seem relevant, and highly relevant directories. Once you’ve done sufficient link building, it’s time to do some link earning by making content people will want to link to. This step is easy…in theory: just write good content.
Social Media Marketing
The next internet marketing strategy is Social Media Marketing, which you’ll need to utilize in order to promote all that content you’re creating. Set up Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts and begin following major players in your industry. Every social media outlet has different techniques, so you’ll want to read up on achieving success in each. With any social media campaign, keep in mind that it isn’t all about you. Share, tweet, and +1 other people’s content, so much so that approximately 20% of your content is your own and the rest is others’.
Once you’ve got great content and a lot of followers who hang on your every word, your internet marketing campaign just requires ongoing maintenance, meaning you stay active on social networks and continue to create new content, both for your blog and your site.
Although this outline will get you started with a website marketing campaign, the industry is always changing, so try to stay up with current SEO, SMM, and SEM news by following industry leaders such as Moz.com, Search Engine Land, and Search Engine Watch. Always, always remember the most important question to ask yourself during your entire online marketing campaign: “Does this add value to the internet?” If the answer is “yes”, you’re on the right track.