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Carrie Hill

The Big Picture - Well-Rounded SEM for SMBs, Part 1

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Looking back over the last year of writing for Search Engine Watch we covered a wide range of search tips for small business owners. It ran the gamut from social media to paid advertising and tons of stuff in-between. It's hard to believe my first Search Engine Watch article, "Time and Money: Small Businesses Have Little of Each," was published on April 3, 2007 – I guess that even a little bit of time still flies when you're having fun!

While reflecting on the past year, I started to think about all of the different elements small businesses can use to put together a well-rounded online marketing campaign. I decided to put together a list of "things to think about" when putting your search marketing to the test.

I don't pretend to know everything about every facet of operating a small business – either online or offline. My mantra has always been, "Keep your mind open to the possibilities." I try not to discount something out of hand, but first try it out and play with it a bit. For example, Twitter or LinkedIn won't work for everyone, but addressing the possibility and making sure you're not missing a great opportunity is part of what makes great marketers successful.

I went back through what we've discussed and what others around the Web have touched on and decided to put together a resource list of articles and thoughts for a variety of online marketing strategies. So much happens in a year, this is definitely a two-part series.

This first part will address the bread and butter of an online marketing campaign – Analytics, SEO and Paid Advertising. In two weeks I'll talk about social media, brand and reputation management and some other fun things that can be very lucrative.

Analytics:

Without analytics you're throwing money away. Time and dollar investments in online advertising without analytics can be akin to throwing $100 at the roulette wheel and walking away. You have no idea what hit and what missed, and you never know if your $100 doubled or disappeared. The key to effective online marketing is measurement of your success and the analysis of the data. If you don't have analytics, get them.

Conversion Rate – What's your Web site Tracking as a Conversion? by Li Evans
Taking the Fear out of Web Analytics for Your Small Business by yours truly
What Are You Converting? by Tim Ash
Data Segmentation: Web site Analytics for PPC by Eric Enge

Search Engine Optimization

SEO is a discipline that has a foundation in a variety of factors. On-page factors include items such as content, page titles, and meta descriptions. On-site factors include navigation and internal linking. Off-site, you need to worry about the almighty link – is it relevant and worth the potential investment?

SEO factors can change occasionally and staying on top of the trends can be a challenge for full-time optimizers – let alone the multi-tasking small business owner. Like I've said before, reading this blog is a first step. Consider the basics that haven't changed drastically for awhile:

  • Unique content on every page
  • Incoming relevant links
  • Page Titles & Meta Descriptions as ad copy
  • Internal linking structure
    • Search Engine Ranking Factors by SEOMoz.org and Contributors
      Destroying the Myths of SEO and PPC by Mark Jackson
      Creating Synergy in your SEO Efforts by Mark Jackson

      Paid Advertising:

      Paid Ads are more than just PPC. The investment can run the gamut from Google AdWords search ads to banner ads on relevant traffic driving web sites. Keeping up on what's happening with your ads and the return on your investment key to making sure your paid search advertising can pays off. It can be supremely lucrative if you pay attention and do it right. It can be really expensive if you do it wrong.

      Consider these details when managing your search ads:

      1. First position is not always the best
      2. Landing Pages – now more than ever the relevancy of the page you land visitors on is important. Don't drive all clicks to your homepage.
      3. Analytics are supremely important to measuring return on investment
      4. Educate yourself on the different match type options. These are one of the biggest money-wasters in novice PPC management.

      Make Your Ads Better – Three Powerful Techniques by Andrew Goodman
      Non-Text Contextual Ads: Quality Score and Bidding Strategy by David Szetela
      4 Ways Google AdWords can Increase Small Business Profits by yours truly

      Remember – these are just the first 3 factors. Next time we're going to talk about some more things to think about when you delve into online marketing. The three we talked about today lay a great foundation – but there's so much more to having a rounded strategy. Think brand management, image and video optimization and social networking and think about reading Little Biz in two weeks for more details.


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