If you have followed this series from the beginning then at this point your website, social media profiles, SEO writing and linking calendars are complete and you have starting producing SEO content. The next step is learn how to market your site in the most cost effective manner.
Internet marketing is still relatively new and has only attracted the attention of the larger professional marketing companies in the last few years. But these companies, as well the thousand of web marketing companies in existence, rarely have the web experience or truly understand how the internet works yet.
I am solicited by 3-4 companies a day claiming to be able to help my SEO rankings or optimize my web pages. Sadly, a few of these will be featured in my scam section coming up, perhaps they should have read my posts on SEO basics because their own sites are terrible.
Avoiding the SEO Predators
Fortunately, there are a few companies who know what they are doing. These companies command a high price for their services. But the truth is unless you are a very well financed start up or an existing company with a solid marketing budget your best bet for SEO marketing is to do as much of this as you can yourself or hire a person do to the grunt work for you.
The reason I make these statements is that Search Engine Rankings are determined by Google, Bing and the other bonafide search companies. The formulas they use are continually being adjusted and no one really knows the exact mix of keywords, content and links that will work the best. The best that entrepreneur advisors can do is make use of our experience and then combine it with research to see what produces the best results for an entrepreneurial venture.
The following are the opinions of The Entrepreneur’s Advisor® on the some of the ways to establish a web presence for a start-up venture, professional practice or high tech start-up company. This post will look at:
- PPC vs SEO
- Facebook Advertising
- Professional Associations
- Business Cards
The next post will cover how to use social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or YouTube as well as the usefulness of booking marking sites such as DIGG, Reddit, Delicious, Buzz Yahoo and so on.
Pay per Click (PPC) vs Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
It is important to understand that the first list three listings in an organic search, account for 90% of all the traffic to a website. The results that display above or to the right of the organic search are sponsored (paid) results. These are links containing the keywords you searched for that people pay to have listed. If used correctly, they can substantially increase web traffic.
In simplest terms, when someone clicks on one of the sponsored links you pay a fee to Google (or search engine). This is called pay per click (PPC). The cost of the sponsored link depends on the price of the keyword that has been bid for. This is called the cost per click (CPC). Some words are far more expensive than others. The cost can range from a few cents to several dollars. If the cost of your Adwords is $1 per word and a thousand people click on the link, you pay Google $1,000.
This can get very expensive and it does not mean that people who click through to your website are even qualified leads. Because of this The Entrepreneur’s Advisor, does not recommend using Adwords or PPC marketing for new ventures because it will burn through your start-up capital very quickly. If you do decide to use PPC marketing please make sure you understand the importance of display URLS in the Ad.
A far better solution is to use the free SEO basic tools and strategies for establishing a web presence that have been part of this series for page and web optimization. Remember, it takes time (6 – 18 months) to establish a web presence for any type of business from a professional practice, to a disruptive technology venture, to an online store.
In the past few months a lot of people have jumped on the Facebook advertising bandwagon. There is good reason for this. With over 500 million users and over 135 million unique monthly visitors, Facebook is currently exceeding Google in market share of Internet traffic. To use Facebook, you will need to have a specific marketing plan different from a keyword ranking to target your advertisements.
Facebook advertising differs from Google AdWords because you can target by a variety of demographics including age, gender, and location. It also allows entrepreneurs to create a brand awareness with your friends and fans that constantly puts your products in front of them.
Advertisements should be created to make use of the fact that consumers trust their friends and peers more than anyone else when they seek purchasing information. The Entrepreneur’s Advisor recommends reading The Value of Social Media Ad Impressions to understand how to create value added advertising.
On the other hand, the costs per click (CPC) tend to be higher and it is a different type of marketing. People on Facebook are generally not there to shop, they are their to socialize. Facebook advertising is a form of interruption advertising which is not always seen in a positive light. In fact, I have turned off the feeds from several friends because of the constant spam they send to my home page.
Google advertising has been a staple of Internet marketing through the use of Adwords. In the simplest terms, businesses select the keywords (short words or phrases) that consumers can click on to go directly to a business landing page. These ads then appear at the top or on the side of a Google search page when the keywords have been searched for.
Google AdWords can bring extra traffic to a site as well as jump start a new venture marketing campaign. However, it can also be very expensive especially if you are trying to show up for common or highly desirable keywords. This is because you bid on the keywords you want. The cost per click (CPC) can kill a start up budget.
The same traffic results can be achieved through organic marketing if the business owner, innovator or professional practice is willing to put the time into the Basics of SEO discussed in prior posts. The key to both is for entrepreneurs to choose keywords carefully.
The Evolving Traditional Marketing Methods
The traditional use of print media is rapidly being replaced by online magazines. This is an opportunity for astute business owners because online magazines, news sites, article sites and document storage media provide a permanent display of content versus a temporary display in a magazine sitting on a counter top.
Some of the methods for using literature include:
- Publishing articles on article submission sites such as Ezine Articles. To use article submission sites properly, choose sites that allow links to be placed in the article back to your website. Many article submission sites do not allow links or limit them. Our last post in the series, The Ultimate Checklist For Entrepreneurs, Innovators and Micro-enterprises will list article submission sites as well as the number of links they allow.
- Publish documents (docx, pdf, charts, slideshows, presentations) on document sharing sites such as Scribd, YUDU, docstoc or slideshare. These sites are all part of your social media marketing and you choose their names after reading Social Name Check Tool From The Entrepreneurs Advisor.
- One of the ways to establish your authority on a subject is to write guest blogs/articles for other websites. For example, I personally write content for three software blogs plus accept guest authors to show off their expertise in a particular related field. As a result, I will be a presenter at Reliabilityweb.com Digital Marketing Forum in December 2010 to discuss how blogging is like preventive maintenance for your marketing efforts.
One of the best ways to gain exposure is through professional associations in your field. Most professional associations have periodic meetings, sponsored events and a newsletter. Your new venture and website can gain exposure through:
- Being a guest speaker or presenter at a meeting or event.
- Writing an informational piece that can benefit members.
- Using professional association websites to list your company or place an online advertisement.
Contrary to popular belief, business cards are not dead nor are they a waste of money. Business cards have two very valuable uses which are:
- Old fashioned paper business cards are excellent for meetings of professional associations, fund raising roadshows and as a reminder of your 30 second commercial when you meet people face to face.
- Software programs such as Outlook allow users to create a contact card. This is the electronic version of a business card. Your contact information can then be included with every email.
All business cards (paper or electronic) should include your website, name and telephone number along with a 1 sentence description, keyword or short phrase that potential customers can associate with your product or services.
Articles in The Ultimate Checklist for Entrepreneurs, Innovators and Micro-enterprises so far are:
- The Ultimate Checklist For Entrepreneurs, Innovators and Micro-enterprises
- Choosing Your New Venture Legal Entity
- Choosing Names for New Ventures, Domains and Social Media
- The Entrepreneur’s Advisor | How to Determine Your Keywords
- The Entrepreneur’s Advisor | Creating Keywords
- The Entrepreneur’s Advisor | Understanding Sales Metrics