Obviously, you want your online business to succeed instead of flop. Like most business efforts, you have to learn what to do – very few people succeed by jumping in with both feet. What usually happens is they jump in, find out the water is over their heads and they’ve forgotten how to swim.
Instead, learn how to swim before you jump; the waters of online marketing and online business are really deep. Here are a few swimming lessons, in no particular order:
- Link from your site to your blog. If you have a blog and a site, make sure your content is easily accessible to visitors. Don’t make them hunt for your updated content.
- Set up social networking. Make your social networks easy to see and follow – don’t hide the buttons somewhere. While most people include social network buttons on their blog, consider putting them in your contact page as well.
- Set up social bookmarking. If you don’t already have a way for people to share your content, get some! If you use WordPress, there are tons of social bookmarking plugins available. You can also use something like ShareThis, for regular sites.
- Provide a place on your main site for white papers or in depth articles. Blogs are… well, blogs. If you use article marketing as a tool, use your site as one of the article submission areas. Call it “White Papers” or “Long, In-Depth Industry Articles” or “Where We Put Our 2000+ Word Books”. Call it whatever you want, but providing a place like this will help turn your site into an information hub for your industry.
- Make sure you have a sitemap. You can pretty it up and have it convenient for visitors to read, or you can just have a plain old XML sitemap. However, sitemaps help search engines crawl your site, so don’t forget to build it and link to it.
- Use your keyword analysis and track your usage. We use an Excel sheet, but a Word document works just as well. For each main site page, record what key terms you used, your title and meta description. If you change something, record that as well. This way, you have a steady record of changes and can more easily track how those changes affected your site ranking and traffic.
- Don’t ignore content audits. Set a period of time (say, every six months) to do a content audit. A content audit can help you find non-performing pages, identify topics your readers really like and what pages you can get rid of, among other things.
- Create a content strategy. You could write up whatever comes to mind, send it out into the waiting black hole of the Internet and wait to see if something comes back. Or, you could create a comprehensive strategy for:
- what type of content you’ll send out (images, blogs, white papers, videos, etc.)
- where you’ll put your content (your site, your blog, guest post, YouTube)
- how you’ll track your efforts (a content tracking program, manual search, etc.)
- the main (and sub) goals of your content strategy (conversions, more traffic, better engagement)
- Share the link love. If you have 15 social networking accounts and each allows you to link to the others, do so. If you’re writing a blog about XYZ and you come across a relevant, supporting article, link to it. If ABC company has a good white paper about your industry, share it with your readers. In other words, don’t keep the links to yourself out of fear for your competition. The confidence you have in your company’s product/services will show.
As a final tip, understand that online and offline business is not the same. You may be trying to reach the same target market, clients, customers, whatever you call them, but the methods you use are often quite different. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can take offline lessons and apply them online without taking additional measures.
How has your online business experience worked for you? Did you find it easy to jump in, or, like most, did you need swimming lessons? Share your number one lesson with others in the comments!by Gabriella Sannino Search Engine Journal February 28, 2011