Making Online Marketing Work – How To Generate Traffic For Your Small Business

Businesses today know that having a Web presence is a must. This is particularly true for small businesses. Getting your business known to the ever-present online community is a sure way to drive awareness and potentially sales for your growing company.First, it’s important to note a few basics of online marketing. An online business improves its “top line” by increasing the number of unique visitors to its website or its “bottom line” by increasing its “visitor-to-sale” or “visitor-to-lead” conversion rates.
Traffic generation efforts are ways an online business attracts visitors to its website. They may include online efforts such as search engine optimization, pay-per-click search engines, affiliate marketing, email campaigns, and media or offline ones such as direct mail, and public relations.On the other hand, the business may decide to spend its money on improving its “bottom line” by concentrating efforts on website conversion strategies.Whatever your goal, it’s important to know that for small companies, just having a Web site isn’t enough anymore. To be successful online, they must learn to harness search engines to make things happen. As most of us know, search engines like Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp.’s MSN are often shoppers’ first stops when they’re looking for a product on the Web. So it’s crucial for small businesses to show up prominently in search-engine results.Search engines don’t share their ranking formulas, making it tough for small companies to figure out how to boost their site’s results. Even worse, big competitors can afford to pour lots of resources into that same effort — putting small companies at a bigger disadvantage.Tips for Getting Out ThereThe good news is that while the exact ranking formulas are a mystery, there are plenty of clues about how to improve a site’s position. Here’s are a few tips for small businesses to gain better search results:1. Express YourselfPlacing high in search results for common search phrases — known as natural, or organic, results, to differentiate them from paid ads — is getting ever more crucial. One basic way to secure a better search-engine ranking is including carefully chosen keywords in a site’s text. — the kinds of phrases people would use to find the site with a search engine (e.g. product and service description).2. Links, links and more linksAnother big factor in search-engine results is the number of Web sites that link to a company’s site that are highly ranked by the search engines. The more such sites, the better. The words used by other sites in links also factor highly into search results.3. Get Some HelpFor many small businesses, optimizing and asking for links can get technical and time-consuming. So an industry has sprung up in recent years to help businesses with their search results. These companies — called search-engine optimizers, or SEOs — come in many versions. Some are full service, handling everything from redesigning a Web site to writing content to determining which keywords are best to persuading other Web sites to post links. The fees vary depending on how much work a site needs and how competitive it is already.4. Advertise!Ads are another possibility. Marketing experts advise that most businesses are best served by complementing optimization with some paid ads on search engines. It also can be a faster route to getting good exposure in search engines. Most major search engines now offer paid ads, such as pay-per-click ads, where the Web site pays a set fee every time someone clicks on its ad. Paid results appear right next to natural search-engine results, usually under a “sponsored ads” heading.And these tips are just a start. Do some of your own research by visiting blogs and reading up on some of the online strategies other small businesses are employing to drive greater traffic – and better results – for their investments.

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