Do’s and Don’ts of online marketing
Want to create buzz for your business online? Follow these simple tips…
There was a time, not so long ago, when a bricks and mortar business with a sandwich board and a loyal clientele was enough to be successful – but not anymore. Nowadays, to stay relevant and ensure growth, it’s essential that your business has an online presence. But, with so many websites – and competitors – in an online environment, how do you get your business noticed? The key is to have a strong digital marketing strategy that builds in all the elements of success including SEO services, social media, PPC and email marketing. Hiring a qualified digital marketing agency with experience in these areas will be beneficial to your online direction, but the simple tips below will also help your business be seen by all the right people – your customers.
DO: Write relevant content.
It seems obvious, yet so many businesses get this wrong: stay relevant to your audience. Your website is not a dumping ground for word landfill, it’s a place where potential customers can go to get answers to their questions – answers that will inspire action (like sales). Google’s algorithms work by displaying the most relevant content first, and they also favour content that is fresh and unique. So, in order to rank highly in search, the content on your site should first and foremost be relevant to your audience. Consider having a blog with popular topics or answering frequently asked questions. Ensure your pages have descriptions that are relevant to what’s on the page also, as this will direct searches for specific products to your pages. And finally, spelling and grammar counts – even on the internet. So always have your copy proof-read, or better yet, hire a professional copywriting agency who can write – and check – the copy for you.
DO: Use social media platforms to your advantage
Social media is the new word of mouth. Not only is it important for your brand to be on it, you need to be use it to your business advantage. This is where social media marketing comes into play. First, you need to understand the purpose of each platform, what the user goes to each one for, how they use it, and what content works best on each. Think of these platforms as a vehicle for distributing content and getting your message out there. But, as each has a different market, they need different strategies – with no one-size-fits-all solution. Duplicate content is not only ill-advised, it simply won’t have the same effect cross-platform. For example, on Instagram hashtags are important as they link similar posts and are used to search topics, but on Facebook these are redundant – and will make your post seem like it’s been cut and pasted. Facebook is great for linking to content, blog posts or sales, but on Instagram you can only link in your bio. Knowing these idiosyncrasies and following what your audience responds to is precisely how you can convert followers into buyers.
DO: Keep up with your competitors.
Online marketing is a fast-paced game – things happen quickly and change daily. One of the advantages of this is that you can continually evolve your message, make changes to your campaign, and tailor it when needed – without spending a lot of money. However, this also means your competitors can too. Keeping an eye on your competitors is smart in any business, but online, where being first can mean the difference between going viral and getting lost, it’s even more vital. There’s no use in spending months planning a campaign, only to find out your competitor did it a year ago. On the other hand, you can also use what they do to make your marketing stronger. Analyse what worked and what didn’t and what resonated with the audience. Use this information to hone your strategy, and differentiate your business even more, so that it can take the spotlight.
DON’T: Over-optimise your keywords
One of the most common mistakes we see in digital marketing is over-optimisation of keywords. It stems from the misconception that packing keywords into your content will make it rank better, but in fact, Google can penalise you for over-optimisation as it appears like spam. Again, this comes back to quality, relevant content. If you are writing something for your site that’s of interest to your audience, you won’t need to spam the copy with keywords that are out of context. And if you do, your bounce rate will increase because people who do click will have a bad user experience. Search Engine Optimisation is a complex and intricate speciality that requires a lot of knowledge and constant learning – that’s where digital experts can help. Consider outsourcing to an agency who specialises in SEO services, who is up to date on Google algorithm changes, and knows how to optimise not only for search engines, but for your customers too.
DON’T: Buy into cheap link building
Backlinks are links from external websites ‘back’ to your own site. Search engines (like Google) see this a positive ‘vote’ for your site which can help it be more popular (and rank higher). Because of this the SEO technique of link building (where website owners/managers build as many links as possible from other websites to their own website) became a popular way to boost rankings. Although it’s been around a long time, its effectiveness is now questionable. This is because some SEO managers found a way to exploit the system, creating networks that instantly created thousands of backlinks (sometimes referred to as link farms). Like most quick-fix solutions, while this worked initially, smart search engines like Google soon learned to identify these networks, and now penalises websites for participating. That said, backlinking from reputable websites does still exist (and is extremely powerful), but the key is to gain them organically, through quality, relevant content that is valuable to other sites and your audience.
DON’T: Be afraid of paid advertising.
Pay per click (or PPC) is an effective form of online advertising where your ads can be served in the advertising section at the top of search results. It works by you selecting relevant keywords to your business, and when a user searches for that your targeted keyword, the ad is displayed. You pay when they click through – simple. This is an excellent short term strategy, especially when you are building your business online, as it will help with exposure, and site traffic. However, a lot of money can be wasted through poor management and irrelevant keywords, which cause users to click away. Because of this, it’s important to have a specialised PPC agency set up and look after your campaign, as they will understand keyword targeting, relevance, adwords analytics,and most importantly increase your chance of conversion. Choosing the right wording for your ad is also vital. With only a few characters, you need to get your message across without it sounding like a sales pitch. You should appear confident in your product or service, have a call to action (like a contact us), and should avoid broad claims about being the ‘best’ – a transparent claim that readers will see through. PPC should also go hand in hand with a long-term SEO strategy. Organic optimisation is not something that happens overnight, but rather is a series of best-practice strategies employed over time, tweaked and nurtured to ensure your company remains relevant to Google. The most successful online businesses will have both of these, and will continually improve them to remain on page one.