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Industry Discussion

Making the Most of Your Search Engine Optimisation

Most small-to-medium size businesses have some understanding about search engine optimisation, or what is known as SEO marketing. However, what most business don't know is how they can optimise their SEO by creating external inbound links to their web sites, which improve their search engine rankings. This, after all, is the desired outcome of SEO marketing.

The key is in understanding what is important and what is not. Here are some basic tips or questions that should be asked to help you fine tune your efforts and marketing focus.

Can I Find My Company When I Search on the Internet?

Most businesses focus on key words. This means that these rank well when searched, but this approach fails to market your company name. This is not a good outcome if your existing customers wish to find you. From a practical perspective you can improve this by simply searching your own name in Google and Bing on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. You can also use tools such as Google alerts, yahoo alerts etc. For example, Google alerts allow you to get updates on the latest relevant Google results (web, news etc) based on a nominated topic, such as independent contracting which may be the service that you are offering. This allows you to monitor news, etc, on topics related to your business.

Have You Set Up Metrics to Monitor Your Success?

Get advice on how to monitor your web presence and online marketing efforts, as understanding your metrics will help you to determine what works. You will know what has worked when your bottom line is improved, i.e. you make a sale, you get a lead, you earn revenue and ideally you make a profit. To do this requires some thought, as metrics about 'noise' is not what you need. Your metrics should focus on actions that lead to conversions and sales.

If you don't already have analytics set up on your site, then prioritise this. Once you have set this up, spend time looking at your results and fine tuning what is working and what is not working.

Getting traffic is not necessarily all that you want; you need to convert traffic into paying customers. This will only occur if you create good content on your site. This means creating links to free directories, developing blogs, getting involved in social media, etc.

How is Your Marketing Campaign Structured?

If your business relies solely on your own website for customers, you are significantly limiting your marketing base as you are more likely to generate customers and make increased sales if you have information feeding into multiple sources. From a marketing perspective, this is one of the golden rules, "don't put all your eggs in one basket" – diversify your marketing approach and include lots of sources.

Sounds easy, but how is this achieved? You can use a number of mediums which include social networks, free business directories throughout Australia and generate an audience of family, friends and business communities. Your business will not rely on SEO alone, but will also benefit from the links you create.

Creating Suitable Links With Free Business Directories in Australia

If you search the internet, there is lots of material on how to create good links and how to avoid creating bad ones. The key is to move towards quality sites. That is, sites that have content that is relevant to your business and sites that have the 'trust' of search engines. Generally, any link is better than no link, but simply be aware that some are better than others. Get advice or research on how to optimise your links.

Have You Used Local Business Directories?

Consumers are increasingly relying on the internet to find services and goods from local businesses. Fortunately, there are many local directories available to businesses. By creating free listings you are getting your name and brand into the local space, and are found when your customers search for local businesses. Added to this, you should consider registering on all relevant Free Business Directories covering Australia. For example, HirePulse allows you to register generally, as well as by state. However, consider Yahoo, Bing and Google etc which offer free listings for small/local businesses. Also, see this blog, which introduces you to different local search products and therefore marketing opportunities by each search engine.

When creating free business directory listings, include as much business information as possible and add photographs, maps and logos so that you build brand and make it easy for your customers to find you.

Ideally, make time to attend local business seminars run by your Business Enterprise Centres around Australia. If you look at BEC Australia you can find your local BEC that specialises in providing your business with sound practical advice. These organisations will also generally have local business directories, and produce useful guides on getting connected, setting up your web site; online marketing strategies etc.

Are You Linking Social Media With Your Free Business Listings?

Social media is growing more popular within all segments of society, so to not include this aspect to your marketing would be to miss out on a market sector and online consumers. Most people will spend time on social networks, and many of these now provide special alert facilities that target your customers.

Find out what social media might work best for you, ask your customers which ones they tend to use and/or avoid. Register with business directories (such as this one) that have included easy to use steps to maximise your advertising, as they link automatically to your established social media. For example, HirePulse provides access to your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts when you register. Look at alternative websites to see how this has been done, and determine which one work best for you.

Have You Got Reviews and Recommendations?

More and more people are relying on on-line recommendations. Historically, word of mouth recommendations have accounted for the most significant and most effective marketing. However, this is changing to incorporate reviews and ratings offered by most online business directories. Most people seem to trust recommendations, even if they're from complete strangers. You will be familiar with this concept if you have a social network account, where many allow for recommendations.

If you have reviews, make sure you monitor them. If you don't have any, then target free listings that allow this capability. Equally important is to address any negative reviews you get; don't simply ignore them but respond to them and see if you can rectify the situation. Remember, bad press is more effective at damaging a business than good press is in creating good reputation, so be sure to monitor this with just as much care as good press.

Reviewing Your Business Success

According to Matt McGee the above all requires trust, because without this you will not develop long term business success online. Trust is the number one factor and using trusted sites helps your business to obtain marketing success. Historically our society required loyalty, but this has been replaced with trust as a core value or value proposition.

This value differentiates those companies that are trusted against those that are not. Clearly, companies with better trust ratings are likely to do better than sites that are not trusted. In his article Matt explains why trust matters and how to earn it. He argues that everything you do should be to increase trust, as this will lead to increased success. By doing this, you will develop an online marketing approach that delivers to your bottom line. See this blog post for more details and recommendations on how to achieve greater trust. Additionally, see this post.

Keep Your Content and Monitor Regularly

Don't just let your hard work sit there. It is important to regularly review and monitor your site and the links into and out of your site. This, coupled with your metrics, will enable you to fine tune what works and what does not work for your site. Failure to act is equivalent to failing to listening to constructive feedback! This may result in a lost opportunity.

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