Now that you’ve read all of the first five topics of Common Sense SEO, the question that should be asked is what can I do now to get started right away. First you should remember to start on something now and iterate as you need to, planning only gets you so far if you don’t have something to test in the process, that’s just the developer in me speaking though. You need to get a few simple things off the ground first for your business while you plan out your content etc, want to make sure that your companies office is listed on Google Places, this is sort of like Google’s version of the yellow pages and is one of the first results triggered if someone does a search for your company in your area as well as gives them a map of where you are at.
Make sure that you guys are listed on every free ratings site possible including Yelp and others, don’t pay for this kind of service from companies like Yellow Pages and other, there are plenty free popular sites out there that your money will be better spent elsewhere. If you have employees that deal with your customers, tell them to ask the customer to rate or recommend you guys on Yelp, LinkedIn, Google Places, and all the other sites you’ve registered on, give them an easy to remember web address forwarder to link directly to where you want them to go like yourwebsite.com/ yelp or yourwebsite.com/google etc, having a page like yourwebsite.com/recommend will help save your customer’s time and effort.
Having had their website on the web for many years is a plus in terms of presence so if you don’t have a site yet, register one right away, if you have an older site than keep it online. With a little bit of updating and some hours of reading you can disrupt your industry quickly and easily using the web so don’t feel like you have to first plan everything out and then put up a site. From here you have two directions that you can take here on out.
If your efforts are individual (aka you are a salesman or employee working in a big company) and you need to focus on making personal sales or doing your own job to market the firm but have little to no say on the direction that your company takes from a marketing strategy, then you’ll want to focus on making social contacts with potential buyers and networking your personal brand as you represent your firm out in public.
Your personal brand is you, and whether you stay at your current company or move on to something else marketing your personal brand now will pay off no matter where you are at, I would look for and buy yourname.com or something similar to use as your personal resume/portfolio/blog/or whatever the hell you want kind of site for down the road as well as see if you can get @yourname on twitter or a facebook fan page for keeping in touch with business contacts on Facebook. LinkedIn is a must if you work more in Business to Business industry and I’ll talk about that more next.
If your target customers are businesses than you need to focus almost all your efforts on LinkedIn, it’s okay to have a Facebook page or twitter account for your company that you can push but you main focus should be creating a LinkedIn Company Profile pages and encourage anyone who works at your firm to join and add themselves to it. You then look for who your target audience is, in my case I look mainly for firms with large office spaces and target them first making sure that I add any contact I make on the street to my LinkedIn account. This is not about the quick sale but rather relationship building.
If I’m a consumer based company than my individual marketing will be more directed at making personal sales online, take the initiative and setup on your personal site stuff that you think your company should or could use on their site, use your personal brand to test ideas and strategies for your company and then when they become successful you can present it to your boss as a marketable idea, if your company sees that you took the initiative and made sales they should respect you for thinking outside the box, if they fire you or reprimand you for marketing outside of “company site” then you should quit and go find a better job at a company that actually understands marketing. Too many firms outsource their marketing efforts which to me is silly and down right outdated, after all who better to sell your product or service, then the very people who make it and use it themselves.
If you’re company is small enough to where they are looking to you to help them better their overall internet strategy then you should put your focus on not just the networking, though this is important as well, but rather on the look, feel and service that your company can provide online. This will bring in business more than anything as it will tell people that you understand how to do business online and plan on being around for a long while.
This strategy isn’t for everyone but if your company can afford it then it should also set aside an ad budget for Google Adwords, if they haven’t already set aside money for this, they should do this before they pay for any other kind of advertising including print and mailers. You’ll also need to make sure that whatever the ad words are connected to, aka a website or a form are able to generate leads for your firm and simply not just linking to your companies website. You loose money that way when you get someone to come to your site and don’t smack them with the ability to do something once they get there.
The Google Adwords keyword system as I explained before is sort of like an auction based marketplace so figuring out which work best for your company to increase sales is a full time job as one of my own family members has learned over the years. The next big thing in all honesty is to convince your bosses to redo their website, this is a point of contention I’ve had with people who think that their designs are fine but my thought process is that if your site looks like something from the 90’s then you as a company looks old and only certain types of people will want to do business with you. I would most overwhelmingly suggest WordPress as a platform for any business simply because it’s easy to use once you learn it and is versatile for anything you want to do.
You can hire someone to build you a custom design or I would also suggest you check out a sites like ThemeForest, I spend hours looking at designs which is one of the reasons I got out of the design business a long time ago. Way too much effort for little pay when there are guys guys out there that can do a much better job for less. Taking a standard good looking theme and changing it out is easy enough for anyone to do once you find one that fits your need.
Once on the WordPress platform there is a million different things that your company can do to engage people on their website off the shelf, allow customers to pay invoices online directly on your website, allow auto generated quotes based off customer submitted information so that they don’t have to wait for someone to call them back with a quote or email them etc.
I’ve seen companies use WordPress for everything from allowing customer to login with an account and schedule the best times to have something done based on their schedule or allowing them to expand the company by franchising the technology they are using off the same website to different regions of the country, the sky is the limit.
There are tons of more stuff you can and should do to help promote your company but this is a start, all the items I mentioned in this chapter are things you can do now while you plan out your strategy and start to put your focus on what really matters for your business, making money online. Much of this work is do once and reap the benefits later kind of stuff so putting the effort into setting it up will pay for itself down the road if you’re patient and know what you’re doing.
One book I would ask you to read above all else is “What Would Google Do” by Jeff Jarvis, one of the best books for understanding how to properly think through your business model in today’s connected world and it outlines what works as well as what doesn’t. As a developer my life dictates that if I have something to do in mind, that I start doing it now and iterate as I need to. This book is a great example as I set out to format everything I knew about marketing online and will continuously change it as things change and features or methods change trying to give you the most common sense approach to doing this on the web.