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Carrie Hill

Small Business SEM New Year's Resolutions

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New Years always finds me standing in two worlds. Looking back to the past to reevaluate what I've done and how far I've come, and looking toward the future. Certain emotions come to the surface: anticipation for what I can accomplish in the next year, and remorse for not getting things done that I should have.

Luckily its resolution time, and I'm determined to keep my resolutions this year.

One of the big challenges to gaining search rankings and marketing yourself online is deciding "what's next." Readers have asked me, "Given the small amount of time I have for marketing activities, what should I do first?"

So I went back through my columns for 2007 and found some that provide a road map for updating your search marketing strategy for 2008.

Search Marketing Keyword Research

The foundation of every good search marketing campaign is keyword research. From design to optimization and paid search, making sure you're using the right keywords is one of the most important aspects of making your Web site venture is a success.

Search Engine Optimize Your Blog

Consider making time for that redesign. You may not be able to afford to put it off any longer because your bounce rates are skyrocketing and your Google rankings are dropping.

Do your research and learn what kind of Web site will work best for you. I'm still a huge proponent of all blog Web sites -- especially those using WordPress. Yes, as with every platform it's not perfect, but the pros far outweigh the cons.

Build Your Small Business Brand with PPC

Are you taking advantage of your brand in paid search? One of my first columns focused on using your "brand" in the PPC platforms.

If you're dissatisfied with how your PPC (define) ads are performing and your next step is giving up, try bidding on just your brand for awhile. You're going to get good qualified traffic and it should deliver the return you're looking for.

Network in Social Search Engines

Social search and social media was a recurring theme last year. This is the right time to get involved if you have the time to invest.

Be aware that huge conversions are not going to come from getting something into Digg -- that's not the way it works. But some good viral content can gain a ton of natural links, which should increase your search position in the process. Get involved with your niche communities and establish yourself on a small scale before you go for the big boys.

Most Social Media experts will tell you that most of your attempts in Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon will fail. However, that one that makes it is worth the effort -- but is it worth your effort? Revisit that idea and decide if it's still going to simmer on the back burner for awhile.

Reevaluate Your Holiday Search Marketing Strategy

How did you do this holiday season? Being prepared and ready to implement things ahead of time is the name of the game. Rankings don't happen overnight, so you need to be ready with your Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa strategy in September. Consider planning ahead for future holidays such as Valentine's Day, Easter, and Memorial Day.

Search Marketing Education

Are you comfortable with your SEM foundation? Great rankings aren't usually stumbled upon by luck -- it takes practice, testing, patience, and education to get great rankings. Consider taking a class to increase your knowledge of SEO -- there are some good ones out there.

The future of this column is something else I've been considering. I've got a few interviews lined up for you with people who started right where you are, with a small business and an idea, and made it (or are making it) work.

On a personal note, my husband and I have been tossing around the idea for a new small business online venture and have purchased the domains.

We think 2008 is the right time to do something with that idea and move forward. The process of building and marketing that Web site is going to be eye-opening and I hope to share some of the challenges and discoveries with all of you.

What new small business ventures and initiatives are you working on this year?


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