How to create a successful online marketing plan for small business Part 1

Recent research indicates that an astonishing thirty to thirty five percent of user-based search queries on the major search engines like Yahoo! and Google are targeted exclusively towards small businesses. This clearly indicates that small businesses can grab a piece of the online marketing pie if they design a good online marketing strategy. Online marketing has tremendous potential and it can help small and local business maximize their potential ROI in a big way. Search engines too need to work on newer and better ways of helping these people give their business a much-needed impetus and a great head start.

Some of the best methods that go into creating a a successful online marketing plan for small business include but are not limited to:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO helps you promote your site and services in a big way. SEO is one of the most effective ways to increase the visibility of your website by leaps and bounds. Though there are various both internal and external factors that go into achieving the desired result and success of the marketing campaign, optimizing your website for SEO would be a good place to start. Internal factors include those connected to the site like its overall design, layout, and content. These changes involve minor and major modifications to the source code of the website.

Setting up online advertising campaigns: Google AdWords and Yahoo! AdCenter are advertising campaigns offered by these major search engines. Signing up for an online advertising account would be a great way to build your online marketing campaigns. When a user types in a search query using Google ads show up on the same page above the search results and sometimes on the right side of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). If the search query is targeted towards a small business, your advertisement may be displayed if the keywords in the search query pertain to your business. This helps site promotion.

Search engine features: Some of the most helpful and useful features offered by the search engine giant Google include the ‘Nearby’ search feature. This smart and intelligent feature gives users local search results in response to their local search queries. While the traditional WDD (within driving distance) option of small business searches was successful for a short span of time, it gradually made way for the more advanced and sophisticated ‘Nearby’ search feature. This recently launched Google application has now been integrated into mobiles as the ‘Near Me Now’ feature. It works in mobiles that use the Android platform and iphones.

Target audience: As an online marketer or an entrepreneur or as the owner of an online business, it is extremely important that you have answers to the three main questions. These questions are important as you need a lot of clarity before you decide on an advertising spend for your online marketing campaigns. In order to create the blueprint for your website, you need to know: 1. The target audience: Is your audience a global audience or a local? 2. The content on the website: Do you have relevant content? 3. The navigation pattern: Can your users easily find what they are looking for on your website?

Other modes of online marketing: There are many other smart and effective ways of promoting a small business. Some of them include but are not limited to email marketing, blogs, online forums, videos, social networking sites, affiliate and referrals networks, etc. When used intelligently, these modes of online marketing that are primarily geared towards enhancing the visibility of your website can also drive sales figures and help you maximize your potential Return On Investment (ROI). Email marketing campaigns are a form of ‘direct marketing’ and ‘viral marketing.’ The reach is phenomenal as you can reach a large audience using email marketing campaigns.

Keyword research and analysis: Keyword research and analysis not only play are an integral role in the text content of your website but also help you create successful online marketing campaigns. If you want the web crawlers to index your site and also give it a high PageRank, your campaigns must include a mix of good and relevant keywords apart from the most sought after high-traffic keywords. Meta tags have description meta tags prove to be extremely effective if they are populated with plural and other variations of good keywords. This also helps optimize your advertising campaigns in an effective manner.

3 comments Posted in  China Social Media  Tagged:  February 24, 2011

7 Tips for Rookie Twitterers

Now you have already known that Twitter is an important part of your SEO and Internet marketing campaign, and you have signed up an account.

What’s next to get the ball rolling?

Below are 7 tips that can help you have a quick and good start:

1. Polish your profile
A detailed profile is necessary. When other people come to you page, before deciding following you or not, they need to know as much about you as possible. So a profile more details about you and your company can definitely win you some trust and good impression.

2. Integrate Twitter with other websites
Do you have a blog, a website a LinkedIn page or a facebook page? If you do, you have no reasons why don’t add them to your Twitter account. Integration of Twitter and those services can make it easier for you to synchronize the updates between various accounts.

3. Interaction
Twitter is about communication, as it is meant to be. No matter what big name you are, your followers may leave you if you have a dead account. Tweet, reply, forward, direct message…do them all to interact with your followers so they know you care.

4. Take it easy
Although I said Twitter is about communication, I didn’t mean you should post a tweet every 3 minutes – it is spamming and your followers will be scared away. 10-15 tweets per day is enough for small businesses.

5. Know the trend
Look at what the hot buzz is and contribute to it. At the homepage of Twitter you can see what the hot topics are. You need to know what people are talking about, and if it is related to your industry, participate and enjoy!

6. Do people a favor if you can
Some of your followers may need your help sometimes, like some questions regarding your industry. Reach out to help them if you can. As Mom told me, good deeds always pay.

7. Take your Tweets outside Twitter
Twitter can be added to other websites or services. For example, you have a business site, then adding Twitter to your site does sound like a good idea, so when you post new updates on Twitter, your updates can also be seen on your website.

Good job! Now you have evolved from a rookie Twitterer to a more advanced one! Keep the trend going and happily look at the number of followers constantly growing. Read more on SEO and Internet marketing.

Add comment Posted in  China Internet  Tagged:  January 20, 2011

Difference Between SEO for Web Portals and Small Businesses

It has been quite a number of times that people knocked at my door with the question “is there any difference between SEO for large-scale web portals and small business sites?”, so when a friend of mine came to me with the same question yesterday, my answer was and will always be yes.

He was once my student on Chinese SEO and recently, he just resigned from a small company and was luckily hired as SEO project manager for a Chinese news portal.

Here is what I told him yesterday:

We all know the power of links when it comes to SEO, but regarding the scale of a website, we should apply different link development strategies.

For a small business website that has tens of webpages, external links have more power to boost its rankings, compared with internal links. The site owner should look for good link resources to develop efficient link building campaigns.

But for a web portal that contains millions of web pages, the story is different. Internal links are of greater importance to large websites, 90% of whose traffic comes from long-tail search queries. Those search terms are the ones that you may never thing of so it is impossible to build links targeting those keywords.

There are numerous webpages out there, waiting for spiders to crawl, and on a large-scale website, it is pretty common that millions of pages are still “unseen” by spiders even after years since they were created. So to a web portal, better indexation, namely onsite SEO is more important.

1 comment Posted in  China Internet ,China Social Media  Tagged:  January 15, 2011

Top 9 Tips for URL Improvement

As commonly acknowledged, URL structure is crucial to SEO. URL is the door where spiders enter your site, so the quality of URLs determines if spiders can have a good understanding of your site. Today I would like to share with you the top 9 tips on URL improvement.

1. No deep nesting
Limit the subdirectory level under 4. Users and spiders don’t like deep nesting of subdirectories like “…/dir1/dir2/dir3/dir4/dir5/1.html”. This can cause a waste of link juice and is also hard for users to remember the URL.

2. Insert keyword in the URL
As I said above, URL is the door where spiders enter your site. Keywords in URL is like a number plate that informs spiders of what is the house. Notice: do not insert too many. Adding 2-4 keywords sounds wise.

3. Remove the session ID within URL
Session ID with in URL can confuse spiders and make them suspect you have duplicate content.

4. Reduce variables in URL
Variables within URL can trap spiders and make the crawl the same URL again and again. It is a waste of time and resources to search engines as well as your own websites.

5. Use dash to separate Keywords
Do not use “_” but “-” to separate keywords within URL.

6. Use lowercase URLs
URLs are case-sensitive so you should be converted to lowercase.

7. Keyword in filename is better than keyword in directory name
Emphasize the keyword by putting it as the file name rather than directory name.

8. URL canonicalization
Specify the canonical URL to each unique page.

9. 301 redirect
After tweaking the URL, always remember using the 301 redirect to point the old URL to the new one.

After applying the 9 tips into practices, the URL structure of your website will be definitely more search engine friendly and your ranking will be improved.

1 comment Posted in  China Internet ,Chinese Search Engine  Tagged:  January 15, 2011

Method Link-Building

Almost all SEO authorities are advocating that SEOs should build natural links that look innocent to search engines, and at the same time, some of them are offering plenty of awesome tips to make it possible, e.g. writing guest posts, submitting articles, sharing your site on social networking sites.

But you know, sometimes listening to someone is one thing but doing according to what you have heard is another. It is hard for some people to keep making link-building natural in their mind all the time.

So today I am sharing a tip with you, which I learned from method acting.

I myself am a big movie fan and to make it more simple to comprehend, here is my own definition on method acting: method acting is a family of lying techniques that make actors believe what they lie to themselves.

Say you were Robert De Niro and you keep telling yourself you are a vietnam veteran that find himself useless after the war. Once you believe it, you will go grad a pistol and point it at yourself in the mirror, asking “You talkin’ to me?”, very naturally.

Likewise, if you are a link-builder, you imagine yourself as a noraml reader, a blog commenter, a news distributor, an ordinary facebook profile owner, a real sharer…once you believe all this, you will find it hard to leave links that look suspicious to search engines.

It is easy to achieve this. You don’t have to put on 40 pounds like Robert De Niro did for ‘Raging Bull’. All you need to know is what average Internet users are like. I think this is easy because after work, you are one of them.

I call this “Method link-building”.

Does this make sense to you?

Add comment Posted in  Chinese Search Engine  Tagged:  , January 15, 2011

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