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January 21, 2011

Internet Marketing- Before Going Online – A SPN Exclusive Article

It’s a rarity for businesses to not operate a website these days. Even small mom-and-pop shops that began long before the era of the Internet have gone digital, albeit some were a little more hesitant than others. But while launching a website – whether for a multi-national, billion dollar corporation or the local pizza place – may be easy, to have that website actively help grow the business is another matter all together. Simply having a website (one among the ever-expanding billions) isn’t enough to earn a business any attention, promote its brand or increase its profit margins. Search engine optimization, the practice of making changes in different areas of a website so that search engines can help find and deliver targeted audiences to the site, is practically meaningless unless companies first consider several issues.

The first issue to launching a successful site is determining the purpose of that site. Is a business looking to generate leads or sales? Is the site simply a branding tool, perhaps to promote a new line of products? It’s critical to decide what actions the site is supposed to encourage visitors to take. Say the website’s goal is to encourage visitors to call an office. Are there phones and staff ready to handle the incoming calls when the site delivers them? Having a call to action for website visitors but no follow through on the company side is just as bad as having no call to action in the first place.

Next, a business needs to take a serious look at who its audience is. This should have been decided when first developing a business plan, but maybe the demographic need to be tweaked for online audiences. Different demographics “Millennials vs Boomers for instance” approach the Internet in different ways and businesses should carefully hone in on the best prospects.

Finally, businesses need to realistically determine competition. While the audiences might be the same, the Gap is not necessarily competing with a local boutique in Raleigh, North Carolina. It’s important to consider geographic and business factors when determining true competition. Who is directly competing in the same market space, with the same products and looking to target a similar audience. While both the Gap and the boutique are clothing stores, they cater to different clientele and operate on much different budgets. At the end of the day, that local boutique cannot compete with the advertising budget of the Gap, so it should look to be competing with the other boutique across town.

Many of the aforementioned factors should already exist in a business plan or marketing plan. But it is easy to forget the basics when faced with the daunting task of implementing a successful website and SEO plan to promote it. There are several tools that exist to help a business determine the best keywords for its site, provide the traffic sources of its competitor’s site and grad the site on its content, trust value and more. Once the ground work is in place, successful, long term SEO and SEM strategies can be created.

Nick Stamoulis is the President and Founder of Brick Marketing. With over 12 years of experience Nick Stamoulis has worked with hundreds of companies small, large and every size in between. Through his vast and diverse SEO, search engine marketing and internet marketing experience Nick Stamoulis has successfully increased the – online visibility and sales of clients in all industries.