This post was originally published on my blog.
There's a lot of marketing advice available online. Some of it is extremely helpful and some of it is outright incorrect. The internet can be a double-edged sword -- information is readily available and easy to access, but not all of it is good advice.
I laid out five popular online marketing options -- search engine optimization, local SEO, pay-per-click, content marketing and social media -- and wrote down the first five single-sentence pieces of advice that came to mind.
I want to use this post to spark discussion -- read through it and then jump in the comments section and add your best one-sentence pieces of marketing advice that relate to any of the five topics. This blog receives a lot of traffic from small business owners, startup founders and information seekers -- your contribution to this could potentially help someone get off on the right foot and experience a successful beginning to his or her online marketing journey.
Search Engine Optimization
1. Don't neglect your on-page optimization.
I'll often hear small business owners say things like, "I need more links to rank," when in reality all they need is proper on-page optimization. For local businesses, especially those in low competition industries and markets, solid on-page optimization can deliver noticeable gains in itself. If you are completely new to on-page optimization, check out this guide designed for beginners.
2. You have to be patient and think long-term.
SEO results don't happen over night, regardless of how many "#1 rankings in less than 30 days" advertisements you see. It's important to have patience and go into an SEO campaign knowing it's going to take some time. Those who become antsy and are impatient are typically the ones that make rash choices that come back to bite them down the road.
3. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Ranking #1 for the keyword "weight loss" overnight for the extremely low price of only $199 sounds great, doesn't it? So do those emails I receive offering to share an $88 million inheritance if I simply Western Union $500 to cover the paperwork fees. If it sounds too good to be true, it typically is.
4. Always focus on quality and relevance, rather than quantity when building links.
Quality over quantity is preached all the time when it comes to link building. Not everyone is paying attention, though, as evident after a quick visit to Fiverr. The amount of mass-link packages being sold is mind blowing, as is the fact that people believe they can get SEO for $5. Stop the madness.
5. Keyword rankings are important, but ROI is more important.
Keyword rankings are a part of SEO, but they aren't the tell-all of a successful campaign. Many SEO agencies will focus on keyword rankings and lead the client to believe all is well because there are a few terms ranking #1 in Google. If those keywords aren't bringing in revenue they are useless. A ranking report is nice, but knowing how much ROI your SEO campaign is delivering is more important.
6. Stay away from automated directory submissions.
There are thousands upon thousands of directory sites online. The majority of them don't receive traffic from people actually looking for a local business. There are a lot of local services that promise to submit your website to hundreds of directories for a few bucks. Don't do it. Focus on getting listed on the major director sites -- that actually receive traffic -- as well as location and industry specific directories.
7. Understand that local search is constantly evolving.
When Google's local pack went down to three listings people freaked out. Nothing ever stays the same, especially when it comes to local search. You need to constantly stay up to date on the changes -- a perfect reason to read SEO news blogs daily, such as the ones listed here.
8. Get creative and you can secure some of the most powerful local links from within your community.
There are websites with amazing metrics right in your local community. Get creative and seek out opportunities that can lead to landing a link. Local schools often have athletic sponsorship opportunities and community websites often have pages dedicated to local businesses that have made a donation. Dedicate an afternoon to this and I am willing to bet you can uncover some golden link opportunities right in your local area.
9. Build out local pages optimized for your location and service specific keywords.
Imagine if you were a local florist in Miami and you sold every flower arrangement under the sun. A lazy approach would be to create just one page and list every floral arrangement. If you really want to pick up organic traffic, build out a page for every type of flower and every occasion. Some examples:
You get the point. Build out pages for every local term you can pull traffic from and make sure the on-page optimization is perfect. The reason that many small businesses don't do this: laziness.
10. Make sure your website passes the mobile-friendly test, but also use real-life testers to improve user experience.
Running your website through Google's mobile-friendly test will let you know whether or not they deem your website mobile-friendly, but it doesn't guarantee that your user experience is the best it can be. After you pass Google's test, get real-life input and reactions from users. This can be employees, friends, family members or complete strangers. Have them run through your pages, attempt to contact you and access your offers. Use their feedback to improve your user experience.
11. Don't be afraid of Bing.
AdWords, AdWords and more AdWords. This is what everyone thinks of when they hear PPC. Yes, AdWords can deliver a boat load of traffic, but it isn't the only game in town. Import your PPC campaign into Bing and give it a try. Sure, the search volume and traffic numbers are lower, but lot of businesses will see a lower cost-per-click and higher conversion rate from this traffic.
12. Don't be lazy when retargeting -- the more precise, the better.
When setting up retargeting you need to be as precise as possible. If a visitor was looking at a blue widget, make sure you send him or her back to that exact page, and not a general widget page with several options. Retargeting is a great way to pull impulse buyers back in. You are going to greatly increase your conversions if you put them directly in front of the exact item that they are interested in.
13. Always test keywords via PPC first, before investing the time and money in organic ranking.
I'll hear a lot of people say that they only want to go after organic traffic and not paid traffic. I think it's ridiculous to put all of your eggs in one basket, but that's an argument for another day. Even if you are only focusing on organic traffic, use PPC as a way to test whether or not certain keywords are going to convert. You might find that a keyword you had high hopes for just didn't convert. Imagine if you invested all of that time and money into ranking for it organically only to find out it was a dud -- that would be a huge waste, right? Drive traffic instantly via PPC and use the data to decide whether or not a particular keyword is worth pursuing organically.
14. Create campaign-specific landing pages.
Never drive paid traffic to your home page. It's a complete waste. Doing this leaves the responsibility on the visitor to find whatever it is that caused them to click on your ad. It could have been a free offer, a special discount or a particular product or service. Send your PPC traffic to a page that offers exactly what your ad promised. Landing pages with one clear offer and no site navigation or other distractions will convert the highest.
15. Quality score is your wallets best friend.
It's possible to get a lot of traffic with a low quality score. It's also possible that the traffic will convert and leave you with a nice ROI. Don't you want to maximize your PPC results? Spend just a little time on your quality score and you will often see more traffic as well as lower CPCs. Many people ignore quality score as long as their campaign is producing a positive return.
16. Stay consistent with your content publishing schedule, however frequent it may be.
Not every business is going to have the manpower or need to publish content on their blog every single day. It doesn't matter how often you publish, but when you do establish a publishing schedule it's important that you stick to it. Your visitors will get accustomed to the schedule and if they return to your website expecting new content to engage with and are left disappointed they might not return. Daily, bi-weekly, weekly or monthly -- whatever you decide on, just make sure you remain consistent.
17. Only seek out guest blogging opportunities that will put you in front of your target market.
Too many people think of guest blogging as a link opportunity, when the real benefit is from the brand exposure and referral traffic. Approach your guest blogging with one goal in mind -- finding platforms that will put your and your company in front of your target audience. The right platforms will exposure your brand to a new audience and you will attract new website visitors to interact with your brand.
18. When seeking media exposure make sure your requests are genuine.
Websites and journalists receive dozens of requests daily and it's so easy to spot a request that is only after one thing. They tend to be sloppy and they are usually an obvious copy/paste job. I addressed several media outreach mistakes to avoid in this article. Put some thought into your outreach -- a genuine request shines above all the other crap that floods email inboxes.
19. Give enough value and you will convert some of your audience into customers.
Don't create content to try to sell products or services to your audience. Do it to educate and inform them, and you will naturally convert some of them into customers. When you are constantly putting out value without asking for anything in return you will be rewarded with loyal brand followers that take the plunge with your company when they are ready.
20. Continue to share your content -- your entire audience isn't going to see it the first time (or second time) around.
Worthwhile content takes time and money to create, so why do some brands only share their content one time? You should be recycling your content and putting it out there via your social media channels and email list multiple times. Your entire audience isn't going to be exposed to it after the first time you share it. It might take a half-dozen times before a large percentage is made aware of it.
Social Media Marketing
21. Instead of trying to maintain a presence on all social media platforms, put more effort into the ones that deliver a return.
If you try to tackle all social media channels you will spread yourself too thin. Instead, focus on a few that you know produce results. Putting 33.33% of your social media effort into three outlets will be more productive than putting 10% into ten channels.
22. Automation is great, but don't go overboard.
A lot of companies use automation because it's convenient and they assume it's working. Too much automation can be a bad thing. I'll give you a perfect example. On Twitter, there are programs that will automatically favorite a tweet containing a particular hashtag or term. I'm willing to bet I could tweet something completely outrageous and offensive and as long as it included an #SEO hashtag there would be a few accounts that favorite the tweet.
23. Mix organic and paid promotion.
To get the full benefit of social media marketing you need to mix in some paid promotion in with your organic campaigns. Paid promotion enables you to put your offers in front of an audience that doesn't typically get to engage with your posts. As with everything else, start small and test to find out what works best for your business.
24. Take full advantage of Facebook's targeting options to put your offer right in front of your ideal customer.
Facebook will let you put your ads directly in front of ideal buyers, so take advantage of this opportunity. If your business sold NFL team hats wouldn't you want to create separate ads for every team and advertise them to people based on their location as well as their favorite NFL football team? With Facebook targeting you can create an ad for a Miami Dolphins hat and only market it to people in the greater Miami area that have also indicated that they like the Dolphins.
25. Video broadcasting is going to be hot -- determine your strategy now.
Periscope and Meerkat are leading the live broadcasting wave, which is sure to see many other app alternatives pop up in the near future. It allows you to instantly connect with your audience and deliver information in a very new and exciting way. Start thinking about how you can leverage video broadcasting in your business -- micro video on Instagram and Vine is great, but live streaming is taking it to the next level.
Let's hear your best one-sentence pieces of online marketing advice, related to SEO, local SEO, PPC, content marketing and social media marketing. Head to the comments section now to participate.
Jonathan Long is the Founder & CEO of Market Domination Media®, an online marketing agency that provides SEO coaching and online marketing consulting. Jonathan also created EBOC (Entrepreneurs & Business Owners Community), a private business forum. Follow him on Twitter.