Web Marketing & The Small Business Owner: Getting Started, Motivation, and Cautionary Tales

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So you have a small business and you want to increase visitors to your website. You hear all this talk about SEO and you're wondering, "what should this mean to me?" Actually, it should mean quite a bit. I've worked extensively in advertising and SEO, primarily with small businesses. I am surprised at how many business owners still ignore this gold mine-this funny new thing called The Web.

As a small business owner, you are undoubtedly very knowledgeable and passionate about your niche, but more than likely you are not up to speed or maybe even skeptical when it comes to web marketing. This is okay. This is normal. And it's okay if you can't afford a marketing firm. However you will need to become your own guru and I'm here to tell you that you can do it.

Case Studies

Client A once spent $7,000 on a gorgeous website and then cut off all marketing funds to save money. Five months later they came back to me begging about what they needed to do to increase business. They never even issued a press release launching their new brands, nor pursued a linking program, and consequently had no web traffic at all. Can you imagine building up Las Vegas and then deciding not to let anyone know about it? It's more common than you think. If this company had just issued a handful of press releases and bought some quality links, their business would have been much healthier.

Client B launched a new business in a highly lucrative field and invested just $800 to get to the top of both MSN and Yahoo! as well as gain a respectable ranking on Google for their most important keyword phrase in local searches. Guess what? Client B had new clients in just a few weeks. If they had invested a little more, they would be doing even better.

Client C invested $1200 in 2006 to increase their online presence. They achieved close to $70,000 in new business just from people finding their website on local searches. No cold calls, no email solicitations--the website did the work for them. Considering the size of their business, this was a huge breakthrough.

What I tell each start-up and small business is that you need to focus on owning your keywords. Meaning: when someone types them into a search engine--your site comes up on the first page. Say to yourself right now: "I will own the web for my keywords." This is your new mantra. Now start naming your keywords. Who are you are? Who do you want to find your business? Congratulations, you now have a marketing mission plan. Don't say to yourself, "I don't have time for the marketing plan." Just make as much time as you can, even a few hours on a weekend will make a huge difference after a few months. Below is a list of Top Twelve Web Marketing Subjects that you will need to learn about. There is ample information about each available for free on the web:

  1. Put your researched keywords in your title and on your web page (but don't spam your own site).

  2. Properly format your meta-tags.

  3. Develop quality relevant web content.

  4. Make sure your navigation and internal linking is easy and organized.

  5. Pursue inbound links--only have high quality sites linking back to you (avoid link farms).

  6. Get listed in quality global business directories.

  7. If applicable, get listed in local business directories.

  8. Check out XML site maps. There are free XML sitemap generators on the web.

  9. Issue press releases online. Some are free some are for a fee.

  10. Use Pay-Per-Click to your advantage even with a tiny budget.

  11. Offer a promotion, sweepstakes, or free service on your site.

  12. Make sure your URL is visible on all your print material.

Caution A: Beware the web page that boasts about achieving huge internet success and makes you scroll down and down further through testimonials and then you find that they are selling an ebook. It's a brilliant stock marketing technique to lure you in--just don't bite on the bait. I've downloaded a few of these ebooks as a public service and I've never read a single word that wasn't available for free somewhere else on the web. All of us in SEO owe thanks to the numerous true gurus and students of the web for posting their knowledge for free. You just have to look and give yourself time to look--the information you need is out there.

Caution B: Beware the websites that boast that they will get you top listing in the major search engines in 24 hours. Anyone knowledgeable about achieving quality rankings will tell you that it takes time. I once heard a super guru say something like, if you want to achieve a lot of web sales at Christmas, start your marketing in September.

With persistence and a little passion YOU WILL achieve ownership of your keywords.
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