Posted by : Amanda Stein Tuesday, February 19, 2013

By Will Schneider

Businesses are made and lost on the web these days, so ignoring the importance of online marketing will almost guarantee defeat. But as a small business owner, there are a couple of obstacles facing you when growing your business online.

  1. You’ve only got a certain number of hours in each day. No matter what you do, this won’t change, so you’re left with either stuffing more responsibilities into an already packed day or outsourcing with a third party provider.
  2. You’ve likely got only a limited amount of money to spend and yet so many competing ways to gobble up the funds. Online marketing tools and services providers are anything but “cheap”, which adds to the complexity.
  3. There’s a wealth of misinformation, deceit and trickery floating around online and in your email inbox regarding online marketing. Far too many businesses have taken huge hits with their rankings and traffic by believing in so called “online marketing experts.”

So what’s a business owner to do? Pay thousands per month to a reputable SEO company and run out of free cash flow, hire a less than stellar SEO firm for a couple hundred per month and subject the company to search engine penalties from black hat techniques, or shoulder the burden itself by staying up into the wee hours of the night crafting articles. All joking aside, one of the best choices might just be to “do it yourself.”

The Answer is You

You know your business better than any SEO company. And because of that, you have some very powerful knowledge that can be translated into success on the search engines. Because you know your niche, you can write compelling and intelligent content and articles on topics that are relevant. Furthermore, your industry expertise can help you garner links and grow followers and fans of partners and other companies that you have in your network. Perhaps all you need is to know that it is within your reach and some simple tips to get started.

Knowledge is Power

Education is key to avoiding the pitfalls of listening to the wrong advice and putting forth a sustainable online marketing strategy. It would be silly to think that you’d hire an employee without knowing what their job description would entail, how to manage the employee, and metrics to judge their performance. Similarly, it’s equally foolish to put to use a recommended tactic, purchase a software program or outsource with an online marketing company (sometimes called SEO firm) without having a full understanding of online marketing. Furthermore, if you’ve got an internet business, online marketing is quickly becoming one of the most integral parts of your business – so much so that some would argue it should be a core competency. As a core competency, it’s something that you can ill afford to ignore or outsource without strict management. So how do you get your knowledge up to speed without pulling all nighters? Read up on some of the fundamentals to online marketing online, such as SEOmoz’s “Free Beginner’s Guide to SEO”or buy a book that describes the fundamentals.

Who Makes it to the Top of Google, Anyway?

Remember that the top spots on Google are reserved for the best of the best. Sure, some companies can use trickery to get to the top for a short period of time, but sustained rankings, and therefore traffic, are gained through a compelling reason. Spend a little bit of time thinking about why your company should be at the top of Google for certain keyword niches. What separates your company from the pack? And in this analysis, make sure that you view your business through the lens of a “niche”. As a small business, you’re more likely to succeed in securing rankings and overtaking your larger business competitors by identifying and exploiting a niche that you can own through experience, service, or specialization.

Online Marketing is a Marathon

Third, keep in mind that the race to achieve greater search engine traffic is a marathon, and not a sprint. Only in rare instances do companies jump to the top of the search engines overnight – and in most cases they’re not overnight successes but rather years in the making.

Some Simple Tips to Start With

So what can you do to put forward a consistent effort over the long haul?

  • Commit to finding a high quality site each day that you can reach out to for partnership and link.
  • Set aside a few minutes each day to write some fresh content on your site that will have an impact on your target customers. Remember to focus on your strengths, attempting to carve out a specializing that you can “own”.
  • Spend a couple of minutes searching social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) for relevant thought leaders and connections. And whenever you write new content, be sure to “push” it through all of your social media accounts.

Without a doubt, the Web is a crowded space. But with a slow, steady and time tested approach, you’ll not only avoid the ebbs and flows of Google changes, but you’ll also create tremendous value for your customers. And by doing it “in house”, you will not only maintain the control but also save money in the process!

Will Schneider is President of insightMedia, Inc. a company that helps businesses find pick and pack and fulfillment companies.

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