Search Engine Marketing 101 For Corporate Sites

When most people want to find something on the web, they use a search engine. Millions of searches are conducted every day on search engines such as: google.com, yahoo.com, msn.com and many others. Some people are looking for your website. So how do you capture people searching for what your site has to offer? Through techniques called search engine marketing (SEM).
This tutorial is foundational information for anyone looking to implement search engine marketing. This tutorial will also help you understand how the search engines work, what SEM is, and how it can help you get traffic. What is a Search Engine?
All search engines start with a “search box”, which issometimes the main focus of the site, e.g. google.com, dmoz.org, altavista.com; sometimes the “search box” is just one feature of a portal site, e.g. yahoo.com, msn.com, netscape.com. Just type in your search phrase and click the “search” button, and the search engine will return a listing of search engine result pages (SERPs). To generate SERPs the search engine compared your search phrase with information it has about various web sites and pages in its database and ranks them based on a “relevance” algorithm. Search Engine Classes
Targeted audience, number of visitors, quality of search and professionalism is what determines a search engine’s class. Each search engine typically target specific audiences based on interest and location. World-class search engines look very professional, include virtually the entire web in their database, and return highly relevant search results quickly.
Most of us are familiar with the major general search engines; google.com, yahoo.com, msn.com. A general search engine includes all types of websites and as such are targeting a general audience. There are also the lesser known 2nd tier general search engines; zeal.com,ask.com,whatyouseek.com. The primary difference is that 2nd tier engines are lesser known and generate significantly less traffic.
There are also several non-general or targeted search engines that limit the types of websites they include in their database. Targeted search engines typically limit by location or by industry / content type or both. Most large metro areas will have local search engines that list local businesses and other sites of interest to people in that area. Some are general and some are industry specific, such as specificallylisting restaurants or art galleries.
Many other targeted search engines list sites from any location but only if they contain specific types of content. Most webmasters are familiar with webmaster tools search engines such as; webmasterworld.com, hotscripts.com, flashkit.com and more. There are niche SEs for practically any industry and interest. Search Engine Models
There are two fundamentally different types of search engine back ends: site directories and spidering search engines. Site directory databases are built by a person manually inputting data about websites. Most directories include a site’s url, title, and description in their database. Some directories include more information, such as keywords, owner’s name, visitor rankings and so on. Some directories will allow you to control your website’s information yourself others rely on editors that write the information to conform to the directory standards.

It is important to note that most directories include directory listings as an alterative to the search box for finding websites. A directory listing uses hierarchal groupings from general to specific to categorize a site.
Spidering search engines take a very different approach. They automate the updating of information in their database by using robots to continually read web pages. A search engine robot/spider/crawler acts much like a web browser, except that instead of a human looking at the web pages, the robot parses the page and adds the page’s content it’s database.
Many of the larger search engines will have both a directory and spidering search engine, e.g. yahoo.com, google.com, and allow visitors to select which they want to search. Note that many search engines do not have their own search technology and are contracting services from elsewhere. For example, Google’s spider SE is their own, but their directory is and Open Directory; additionally aol.com and netscape.com both use Google’s spider SE for their results.
There are a few other search engine models of interest. There are some search engines that combine results from other engines such as dogpile.com and mamma.com. There are also search engines that add extra information to searches such as Amazon’s alexa.com, which uses Google’s backend but adds data from its search bar regarding tracking traffic to the site. Getting In
One of the most important things to understand about the SE database models is how to get into their database and keep your listing updated. With a search directory, a submission needs to be done to provide the directory all the information needed for the listing. It is generally recommended that this be done by hand, either by you or a person familiar with directory submissions. There are many submission tools available that advertise they automate the submission process. This may be fine for smaller directories but for the major directories, manual submissions are worth the time.
Not all search directories are free; many charge a one-time or annual fee for review. Many of the free search directories have little quality control. For free directories you may have to submit your site several times before being accepted.
There are three different methods for getting into spidering search engines; free site submission, paid inclusion and links from other sites. Virtually all spidering SEs offer a free site submission. For most, you simply enter your url into a form and submit. Paid inclusion is normally not difficult, except for the credit card payment. For free site submission there is no quality control. The SE may send a spider to your site in the next few weeks, months or never. Typically with paid inclusion you will get a guarantee that the page you submitted will be included within a short amount of time. The other standard way to get included is to have links to your website from other web pages that are already in the SEs database. The SE spiders are always crawling the web and will eventually follow those links to find your site.
Once you are in a search engine database, you might change your site and need the search engine to update their database. Each directory handles this differently; generally each database will have a form for you to submit a change request. Spidering search engines will eventually find the change and add your updates automatically. Getting High Rankings
Getting into a search engine database is only the first step. Without other factors you will not rank in the top positions, a prerequisite for quality traffic. So how do you get top positions? You can pay for placement with sponsored links that is covered in the next section. To place well in the free, organic SERPs, you will need to perform search engine optimization.
Search engine optimization is one of the most complicated aspects of web development. Each search engine uses a different algorithm, using hundreds of factors, that they are constantly changing, and they carefully guard their algorithm as trade secrets. Thus no one outside of the search engines employ knows with 100% certainty the perfect way to optimize a site. However, many individuals called search engine optimizers have studied the art and derived set of techniques that have a track record for success.
In general, there are two areas to focus on for top rankings; on-page factors and linking. On-page factors mean placing your target keywords in the content of your site in the right places. The structure of and technologies used on your website also play a role in on-page factors. Linking, refers to how other website’s link to yours and how your site links internally. Search Engine’s Marketing Offerings
Search engines in the early days of the web were focused solely on serving the visiting searcher. They worked to capture as much of the web as possible in their database and provide fast, relevant searches. Many early website owners learned to reverse engineer the relevancy algorithms and to make their sites “search engine friendly” to get top rankings. They were the first search engine optimizers, manipulating the search engine’s natural or organic SERPs as a means of generating free web traffic.
Often times these optimized sites compromised the integrity of the SERPs and lowered the quality for the searcher. Search engines fought, and continue to fight, to maintain the quality of their results. Eventually, the search engines embraced the fact that they are an important means for marketing websites. Today most search engines offer an array of tools to balance website’s owners need to market while maintaining quality for the searcher.
You can generally break search engine marketing tools into free and for-pay. Realize these classifications are from the search engine’s point of view. Effort and expense is required to setup and maintain any search engine marketing campaign.
Organic rankings are still one of the most important ways to drive quality traffic. Search engines now seek to reward ethical, high-quality websites with top rankings and remove inappropriate “spam” websites. While organic rankings can produce continual free traffic, it takes time from an experienced individual to achieve optimum results. Additionally, organic placement offers no guarantees, it generally takes months to get listed and can be unpredictable once listed.
Some search engines offer services that add more control to your organic campaign. Most of these services will list / update your site faster or will guarantee that all essential content is listed. For integrity reasons, no major search engine offers higher organic rankings for a fee.
If you need top rankings quickly, pay-per-positioning (PPP) is the most popular way to go. PPP rankings appear in normal organic SERPs but are usually designated as “sponsored listings”. PPP listings use a bidding process to rank sites. If you are the top bidder, e.g. willing to pay the most per click on a given phrase, you will have top placement. The 2nd highest bidder is two; the next is 3 and so on. While most PPP works using this model, some search engines offer modifications such as Google’s AdWords where bid price and click-through rates are both factors for positioning.
Search Engines have many other marketing tools, such as search specific banner ads; listings on affiliate sites and more. Getting Started
The majority of websites have sub-optimal search engine marketing. Most sites have no effective search engine marketing and are continually missing out on valuable leads. Many other websites are too aggressive, wasting money on low value traffic or harming the functionality of their site due to over optimization. Too many sites are even paying money and receiving no results because they have trusted unethical or inexperienced search engine optimizers.
All SEM campaigns should start with a strategic evaluation of SEM opportunities based on return on investment (ROI). You need to assess how much each lead is worth for each keyword phrase and determine which SEM tools will achieve the best ROI for the phrase.
You also have to decide how much you want to do in-house vs. retaining an expert. A qualified expert will typically produce better results faster, but the high expenses may destroy the ROI. Often it is best to work with an expert as a team, the expert to develop the strategy and internal staff to perform implementation and ongoing management.

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Insurance Search Engine Marketing For Insurance Agent Leads

For many insurance companies and insurance agencies, insurance search engine marketing is a brave new world, filled with a litany of confusing terms and acronyms. Like any emerging field, what might seem confusing at first, is readily understandable after a quick review of jargon and basics. Let’s take a look at insurance search engine marketing and define terms and acronyms along the way.

For the time being, let’s think of insurance search engine marketing (insurance SEM) as it relates to the insurance business, as if we were talking about the printed Yellow Pages phone book of the not distant past. Fifteen years ago, if someone was looking for a business, product or service, they could take a Yellow Pages off the shelf and open the phone book to search for the given product, service or company, flipping pages until they arrived at the relevant phone book pages. For the purposes of this example, let’s say that someone wanted property and casualty insurance, and were looking for insurance agents that they could contact. The person who was searching for the insurance, upon finding the two yellow pages which listed insurance agencies, might scan the insurance agency names beginning with the letter “A”. This is roughly analogous to a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) from Google, Bing or Yahoo. A key difference here is that these search engines display their results by relevancy as opposed to alphabetically. The placement of the names on the SERP relates to organic SEO, or in this case, insurance search engine optimization.

Of course there would also be many advertisements interspersed within the two phone book pages of agencies, both small and large. These ads are roughly analogous to PPC ads (Pay Per Click ads) found today on the search results pages. One notable difference is that in the case of the old Yellow Pages phone book, your insurance agency would pay a flat fee for the ad, whereas with a PPC, your agency only pays when a user clicks on your advertisement. Just for purposes of clarity, there is also something called PPI (Pay Per Impression), where your business would pay for impressions, though for our insurance agency web website optimization discussion, we’re going to stick with our PPC ad analogy. The difference between organic insurance search engine marketing and insurance PPC ads is as simple as having your agency name listed in the Yellow Pages at no charge, versus a display ad in the Yellow Pages at a cost of perhaps $1,000 per month. Thus the appeal of organic web marketing, if your insurance agency can rise to the top of the organic SERP, you are very likely to direct web surfers (read that as insurance agency leads) to your website and reap the benefits without any PPC costs. Think of this in the same way as the old phone book listings with company’s starting their name with “AAAA Auto Parts” or “AAAAA Insurance Agency” to ensure their names would appear first. A SERP offers a better alternative than the printed Yellow Pages name game, in that the agency name is secondary to other, more relevant criteria. This criterion is determined by search engine algorithms which can have over 100 attributes they use to determine relevancy, and subsequently determine if your insurance agency website should be on page one or page ten (SERP Ranking).

A simple explanation of some key terms often associated with insurance search engine marketing (insurance SEM) include:

Back links – Links to your agency site from other internet sites and directories.
HTML – Code used to create many websites.
Keyword Density – The number of times, in terms of percent, that a keyword phrase is used on any given page of an insurance agency website. Divide the number of uses of that keyword, by the total number of words on the page. Experts disagree on the ideal percentage for optimization with all engines, but targeting a number around 5% as of this writing should be effective. An important note, some article directories only allow keyword density of up to 4%.
Keywords – Words typed into a search engine to return a list (SERP) of relevant sites and documents.
Long-tail Keywords – Longer keyword phrases, which yield more specific search results germane to your insurance agency. These long-tail phrases are three or more words bundled together. For example, “insurance agency marketing” is a long-tail keyword where as “insurance” is not.
Off Page Optimization – Content creation, directory submission and back link building used to improve search engine rankings (SERP placement).
On Page Optimization – Modifications made to insurance agency website content and HTML code to improve search engine rankings (SERP placement).
Organic SEO – Page ranking results returned by a search engine based purely on relevancy as opposed to a paid ad placement.
Page Rank – A gauge of the popularity of your site, typically determined by the volume of visitors and links to your site. This was once a preeminent performance measure, but for niche industries like insurance agencies and agents, other criteria is now more important than page rank and back links.
PPC – Pay Per Click where your business posts an ad on a search engine and pays each time a web surfer clicks on your advertisement. These ads are displayed above and on the side of many search terms. Another variation on this is PPI, which is Pay Per Impression, where you would pay a bulk rate for every thousand times your ad is displayed, regardless of the number of times your ad was clicked.
PPI – Pay Per Impression where your agency pays a flat fee per thousand of times your ad is displayed on the Google, Bing or Yahoo results pages.
Search Engine Marketing – The process which is used for insurance companies and insurance agencies to rise to the top of the organic SERP listings, or to place ads that will be posted on page results for selected long-tail keywords.
SEM – Acronym for insurance search engine marketing
SEM – Search Engine Marketing.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
SER – Sometimes you may see the acronym SER used, which can refer to Search Engine Results, Rankings or even Relevancy.
SERP – Search Engine Results Page
Web Marketing – Insurance agency search engine marketing is a subset of an overall insurance agency web marketing plan.

The goal of insurance search engine marketing is driving qualified insurance agent leads to your agency website. Once these web prospects have arrived at your insurance agency website, you need an effective call to action, which in itself, is the topic for another insurance agency marketing article. Obviously, more qualified agency leads, combined with a compelling insurance agency website and call to action, should yield increased premiums and help grow your agency’s book of business.

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Features to Expect From a Search Engine Marketing Company

If you’re looking for ways to increase both your sales and customer base, you should consider hiring a search engine marketing company. And if your UK business doesn’t have a presence on the Internet, you should contract a search engine marketing firm to explore the many benefits of affordable search engine optimization. While there are many other factors you can consider when contemplating a website, if the site doesn’t place high in the most popular search engines, you’ll never realize the full power of search engine marketing. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the features a top-shelf search engine marketing agency should have.

Deep Analysis is the First Step

Every search engine marketing company should begin with a thorough analysis of both your needs and goals. Scale is important here and the search engine marketing firm should be able to competently determine the website size and features that best reflect your products and/or services. Armed with that in-depth information, the company should have for its goal a top search engine ranking for your business. And the premiere way to do this is by selecting the correct keywords to include the website’s content.

How Search Engine Marketing Works

Search engines like Google scan your website looking for matches with the search criteria the user types in. These search criteria contain keywords that should match content on your site. Although search engines have additional algorithms for ranking results, if your website is keyword rich, you have a much better chance of gaining top search engine placement. And this is where a professional search engine marketing firm can provide an extremely positive ROI (return on investment). The agency will use specialized tools to determine the most effective keywords and keyphrases to use in your website’s content. Here’s an example: For a company whose primary business is automotive-related, the goal should be to include as many words and phrases that are similar to the “key” keyword “automobile.” Specialized tools are available on the Internet to do just this. Google AdWords, for example, will return several pages of words and phrases related to “automobile,” along with the search volume (number of times a user typed them in). Google returns the information that users typed in the main keyword “automobile” over 2.5 million times. Less used but still effective variations include “automobiles” (over 1.2 million times), “automobile insurance” (over 200,000 times) and “automobile dealers” (over 130,000 times).

Other Important Services

Once the keywords are determined, the search engine marketing consultant should provide multi-lingual services, since about 70% of people who search the Internet do not speak English. This is a great and cost-effective way to reach new customers and markets. For example, an Internet marketing agency in the UK should also provide content translated into French, Spanish and Portuguese if your goal is to reach customers on the European mainland.

Finally, if your site does attain high search engine ranking your consultant should be constantly monitoring and “tweaking” it to improve your ranking even more. A UK search engine marketing company is not only a valuable tool, but also an essential one.

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A Simple Guide to Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing is by far the most efficient and effective way to advertise your business. With over 86% of internet users using Google as their search engine, the need for your business to show on the first page of Google has never been greater.

Many people are unaware of search engine marketing and just take for granted the results that appear when they search for something on a search engine such as Google.

However, search engine marketing seems to defy to current doom and gloom of the recession. Think about this:

“The average Britain spends 164 minutes online everyday, compared with 148 minutes watching TV”

Over half the world’s population now has access to the web and nearly 90% of them find what they’re looking for using search engines. 36% of people think that the result at the top of the first page is the market leader and 80% of people make their choice from first page listings alone. With over 21 billion web pages wanting a first page position how can you get your website on the first page.

This is called search engine marketing and I have listed a few techniques and tips to get you started with optimising your website to rank well on a search engine. Remember that this is a basic guide to help to you on your way.

Link building

First we have to look at how search engines rank a website and decide which order to list them. The simple (very very very simple) version is, Google changed everything the way many search engine rank. The initial creators of Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin) wanted to create a search engine that could rank a website for quality and list them in order of quality to the user. The way they decided to rank a website was to count how many other websites link to it. If other websites link to it then it must be good. So, essentially links mean votes. Like I said, this is the very simple version and there is so much more to it than this but it is a great place to start as it holds the most importance.

See who links to you and then see who links to your competitors and try to muscle in on some of their action. Simply go to yahoo.co.uk, then in the search box type “link:yourcompetitor.com”. This will bring up a list of websites linking to your competitors website. Then contact them and ask them to link to you too.
Don’t be stingy. Make sure you have links going out from your website. Important though that you link to high quality websites, i.e. If your website is a property website, have links to the relevant governing bodies, Wikipedia or the largest property portals. Search engines will see your site as being a good place to get good content.
Submit your website to online directories. This can be very boring and takes hours. But once you have had your site accepted in to a directory. You’ll have a link back to your website. Remember. The more the better.
Subscribe to forums in your niche. You can include a link in your signature straight to your website. Remember though. Do not spam on a forum. Forum users will not like it and the moderator will probably kick you off. If you use a forum properly though you will find it quite engaging.
Read blogs relating to you niche market. This is very educational as well as beneficial for link building. Read the blog then leave a comment about that blog. Don’t forget to include a link to your website though. Just don’t make it too obvious.

Social Media (web2.0)

“Facebook”, “YouTube”, “Flickr”, “Myspace” – These are all social media websites. They provide a means for people from all over the world to join online and share information. The way in which people communicate vary though. “Flickr” allow people to upload photos and share them with other users or even comment on pictures uploaded. “Youtube” allow people to upload videos etc. The number of people visiting these websites to share information is in the millions. So maybe you could use these social communities to spread the word about your website. Social media is a great way to connect with hard to reach people that share the same interests. There are a number of ways to do this.

Make your content interesting enough for people to want to view it. Then,unlike search engine optimisation, change the content often, This will make people want to keep visiting you.
Make it easy for people to tag or bookmark your new content. Bookmarking is very fashionable at the moment. The most popular way of doing this is by getting an “addthis” button due to its ease of use, however, there are many buttons available.
Use more than just text in your site. Create a video and submit it to a video sharing website like “youtube”, Create a PDF version of your content and create an audio version too. Submit it to appropriate websites. Don’t forget the link back to your site.
Blog.Blog.Blog then blog some more. The simple truth is that the majority of internet users love blogs. So do search engines. Create a blog and use it. A lot. Submit it to sites like “technorati.com”. If it is good enough people will link to you and then share and tell others about your writings.
Make friends. The social media community, are very social and friendly. They will want to talk to you and ask you questions. Make sure you are polite and take time to answer any messages. Negative feedback spreads faster than positive feedback.

Pay Per Click

This is a method in which you pay to get people to your website. Have you ever done a search on Google and found there are two columns. The Colum on the right is called sponsored links. They are adverts from businesses. They do not pay anything for appearing there but they do pay when you click on the advert (pay per click). This is a very fast way to get people to your website but you do have to pay. I would recommend getting a pay per click company to help here. It will save you a lot of money. However, if you must have ago your self here are some very basic tips.

Budget. Make sure you create a sensible budget and stick to it. Don’t get in to a bidding war.
Don’t just rely on pay per click as the be all and end all for your business marketing. PPC is great for promoting specific products and services very quickly but you always have to pay for the result.
Analyze your cost per click and cost per acquisition closely. Then compare it to your other marketing activities. See which one works best.
Remember that sites such as Google take into account the quality of your website content being marketed more than how much you are bidding. PPC is my favorite part of search engine marketing due mainly to the sheer speed of return on investment BUT make sure it is done properly other wise it can be devastating.
Always have two ads running at the same time for each product but with different ad text. Google will use the most successful advert for you and show that advert more often, helping you gain more traffic. Change to poorest performing advert and see if it improves. Keep repeating. This will eventually lead to you having the best possible advert showing.

Search engine optimisation

Remember the two columns we just mentioned. Search engine optimization is the are of optimizing your website enough for Google to rank it on the left hand column. This list is ordered on how relevant your website is. And you don’t have to pay for these listings. Ever noticed how all the big companies appear at the top of the first page. Now we should as “which came first – The chicken or the egg?”. Search engine optimisation is generally split into two categories onsite optimisation and off site optimisation. The first, when done property is very important but it will only get you to the starting line. Offsite optimization is the race itself. A good search engine optimisation campaign should include all the search engine marketing techniques mentioned and when you really get into it you can learn the more advanced techniques. Below are a few basics.

Include your keywords in your domain, title, meta tags. The first thing a search engine spider will read is your domain name. i.e [http://www.yourdomain.com]. This doesn’t mean anything to a search engine so ideally use [http://www.yourdomain.com/your-key-words], or even better [http://www.your-key-words.com] . Then the next part is your title. Don’t just have “home Page” or “Front Page”. I would have “your domain – your key words”. This also matches the domain name. Then repeat the same in your meta data. And sprinkle it throughout your web page. Keep it readable though.
Make each page different. This helps search engines differentiate them and should lead to them indexing each of your pages separately.
Get a site map and submit it to major search engines. Don’t pay for this service though. It amazes me that people actually charge for this. Just type into Google “sitemap” and you should be presented with website that will generate you a sitemap for free.
Keep going. Older sites generally rank better than new sites. It is believed that older websites must be more reliable. As there is nothing we can do about this just focus your time on other offsite optimisation such as link building, social media optimization and if you just can’t wait, Pay per click. Search engine optimisation is a long term solution but boy is it worth waiting for.
Validate your HTML code. Visit “validator.w3.org/ “.This will ensure that web browsers show your website correctly and helps search engine to index your site. There is no point in optimising your website if it doesn’t work properly.

Other useful tips

Get Google analytics. It is one thing having a website but you need to know what people are doing when they are on it. Google analytics is very comprehensive and FREE but it does not report in real time. Woopra however does report in real time. The choice is yours. Before doing anything else you should get one of these other wise how will you know your efforts are paying off.
If you decide to use a company to undertake your search engine marketing campaign (recommended) make sure you choose your search engine marketing company wisely. Don’t just go on recommendation. It is going to be a long working relationship so the important thing is that you get on with them. Do your own research on the industry. Think twice about search engine marketing firms that say they can guarantee a first page listing in a short time, the methods they use WILL end up in your website being banned. BMW found this out the hard way.

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Search Engine Marketing Tools – Improve Search Engine Ranking

Effective search engine marketing tools are essential to today’s online marketer…

Its obvious to most web users, marketer’s alike, that to ensure your success online, one need’s to improve upon ones web presence i.e. get yourself noticed, improve upon your site visibility. And, you need to do so, in a much more effective, efficient, and productive manner, as competition is much more prevalent these days. Yet, of course, we should still remain within the bounds of good quality, and great content too.

In fact, your immediate and 3 major online goals to success should be something like;

Visibility – ensuring that the search engines can find you
Traffic – get more qualified, convertible visitors to your website
Presence – continually improve on your website exposure

All things being equal, if you can master, or improve, these three items, it should equate to your online success.

But “You can’t do the job, without the tools”…as they always say

For most of us, cost is an important factor in obtaining useful, tangible search engine marketing tools, especially at the onset of your marketing campaign, when you are still on a tight budget.

In fact, I have personally spent numerous, countless hours looking for effective search engine marketing tools, ones that can truly do the job, or perform as prescribed, and still remain within my personal budget, or, that are freely available.

If, you are in a similar situation as me, then fear not, hope is not lost, as there are numerous options. In fact, heaps of Search Engine Marketing Tools are available, we just need to look around, and, think out of the box..! If you always do what you’ve always done…you will always get what you’ve always got..!

So for search engine marketing, great niche, or keyword research tools, even high PR backlinks! Then Google’s very own backyard is probably one of the best, and easiest of places to find some truly useful, and, free search engine marketing tools.

Remember; If you want to catch a fish…think like a fish, not, a fisherman…Thinking like your customers, can only benefit you…so use what your customers are using “Google”

Another famous quote springs to mind “Judge a man by his questions, not his answers”- Voltaire….so what are your potential customer’s questions? What are they actually searching for?

Google Search Box is used daily by almost everyone online…but, what about;

“Query Suggestions” go to Google preferences and click on “Provide query suggestions in the search box” this will provide you with some really useful and relevant suggestions when doing your initial research.

Then there is “Advanced Search” great for not only finding niches, new markets, but some really cool sites, with high page rank, excellent for commenting, and, building backlinks. Want to learn how to use “Advanced Search” then check out ‘Google web search help” “search basics” and “more search help”

Of course, everyone knows and loves the “Google Keyword Tool” but what about;

Google Trends – helps you to see what people are currently interested in

Google Insights – find out even more info on what people are searching for

And not forgetting Google Labs too…

To help improve your own website visibility, then why not use;

Google Webmaster Tools – a one stop shop FULL of webmaster resources to help get your site optimized and indexed

Some other free and fantastic Google search engine marketing tools are;

iGoogle – a great starting point, where you can centralize, or aggregate all the Google search engine marketing tools, gadgets, widgets, and resources.

Google Bookmarks – save all your favorite sites, and attach keyword rich labels, and annotations, even though its now a “no follow’ attribute, yet it’s still a worthy asset.

Google Profiles – seldom used, but truly effective, is your own Gmail profile, you can create some great “do follow” backlinks from your Google Profile to your own site, what could be better..?

Goggle Knol – get some web authority, create, and collaborate upon, then, publish credible web content at Google Knol.

Google News can help announce your online presence with a impressive Press Release.

Google Base can finally help with your ROI generating you some great sales by promoting all your products & services.

And lastly don’t forget all those valuable “do follow” backlinks that your getting from Google’s own Search Engine Marketing Tools.

What next…is there life after Google…what do I do now..?

What other search engine marketing tools are available?

Well; I find that submitting my website to web directories is a great way to increase my web presence, improve search engine ranking, pagerank, and get quality one way backlinks too.

Social Bookmarking is another great asset, especially; if you insert your keywords into the tags, this can, not only improve your web presence, but provide a steady stream of traffic to your site.

What about article writing such as this…article submissions is another great way to create awareness about your self, or your site, more traffic streams, and helping to establish authority too.

Finally a little tip…why not collect all your fresh new web content, URL’s, including, social bookmarks, tags, RSS feeds, any relevant web 2.0 properties, twitter posts you may have, and Ping them all..! This will send ALL the search engines running to come and check out your new web content, and help push you up, into those top search engine rankings for your chosen SEO keywords!

So; All in all…just by reading this one article I’m confident it has given you some fresh, new ideas on how to market your products, more effectively, and really improve your search engine rankings.

Don’t give up, it’s not easy to penetrate today’s online markets, I know, and I truly sympathize with you…but always remember; tomorrow’s battle is won during today’s practice…

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Small Business Marketing Hacks Every Business Owner Should Use

There’s a lot that’s changed recently with online marketing. Most people now go straight to Google to search for something they want. The phone book is out and Google, or search traffic is in. If you are a small business owner you can benefit from the internet as a source of business. What’s even better is that you can tap into this resource for free if you have a physical business.

Google Places

Google Places lets you advertise your local business for free in the search results. When someone searches for a local business in your area, your results will come up first for many searches. This is a simple cost effective strategy you should definitely be employing in your business. With Google Places, you list your local business and Google will send you a confirmation postcard with a Google verification code on it. Once you have verified your listing with this code, Google knows you actually reside at this address, or run a business from it.

Google Places works wonders for small business owners who work from a certain location. If you’re not on it you are definitely missing out on business. Plus, your competitors could be using it which means they could be taking your potential customers. To use Google Places just do a quick search for it on Google and it will take you through the setting up process.

Bing Places

Bing also offer this same listing on their own search engine. It’s just like Google Places so not much to add here really. Simply fill out your details on the online platform and verify your listing when you receive a code in the post. When you create your listing you will have to list your business within a certain category, or two. Look through the existing categories and find the one or ones which are the best fit for your business. This is the same as Google Places. By listing in more than one category, if the platform allows, you can benefit from a number of searches within your local area.

Other Listings For Free

Yell and Yahoo also offer free listings for businesses too. Also do a ‘Google search’ for local directories and free listings and you will find a range of sites which offer free business listings in your area. In some cases even the extra links back to your website can make a difference to your ranking, even if the link itself doesn’t bring you more business.

Blogging

You may well not have the time or inclination to start a blog. However, in some business areas blogging is a good way to increase your business reach online in a fairly cost effective way. Depending on your business, and whether it opens itself to a blog, you can get some good results by targeting some keywords in your business niche, or simply writing compelling content and sharing on social media.

Keyword Research

You can use Google’s free keyword planner to search for terms which are already getting hits on the search engine. By finding long tail keywords in your business niche and writing good content for them, you stand more chance of being listed on the search engine. If you can find untapped keywords which bring in customers to your business, you can write articles which will bring in customers for free for years to come for free.

Paid Advertising

After you have exhausted the free methods of advertising, you can start looking at paid advertising methods. Many business owners try and fail with paid advertising. This is why it is worth learning properly the do’s and don’ts of paid advertising.
Pay per click advertising can make a massive impact on your business. But you should also be very careful. Make sure you start out with a small budget and get properly educated on how to create adverts and which keywords to choose. In particular look at the different types of keyword matches. Get this wrong and you can easily burn through your budget and list your advert for entirely the wrong audience.
However, paid advertising is remarkably scalable. Once you have a campaign which works you can easily increase your budget and you are in a position to pay for new customers.

Return On Investment

When I started with pay per click I didn’t understand return on investment. I ‘dipped my toe in’ and dabbled very tentatively. If I didn’t see an immediate profit, I stopped altogether. This is a mistake. Initially there is a lot of testing and measuring to do with paid advertising. After a while you get an advert which successfully brings you customers. However, knowing the return on investment from successful doing this is a game changer. If your customer goes on to purchase again and again, how much are they worth to your business over a year, or 10 years? Knowing this is a huge key to having the confidence to put money into an advertising campaign. Even if you lose money in the short term, your new customers will bring you new business over the long term. Learn the average spend from each customer over a year and then 10 years. Then decide what each customer is worth in terms of advertising. Does this change your view on what you can afford?

Paid Advertising Methods

There are various paid advertising methods available to use for small businesses online. Start with one method and become good at that before moving on to the next. Facebook advertising lets you target potential customers down to their interests, location and other variables. Pay per click advertising lets you target intent driven adverts. With pay per click you start with the keyword your visitor is looking for online. Once you have tested and measured an advertising method and you have a profitable model, you can leave it running and scale it easily. Then move on to the next one.

Even if you only use a couple of the methods suggested in this article, you can dramatically improve your business with only a small amount of effort. Once you have learned all these methods, you will know how to scale up your business and increase your profits. You can then invest in other forms of advertising, testing and measuring as you go. Whether these are on the internet or offline, using the same strategy (which lets you measure the response of a customer) means you can gradually improve all your advertising methods over the long term, increase profits and grow your business.

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10 Reasons Why You Should Start An Online Business

Whether you are attracted to an internet business because you hate your current job, want to improve your circumstances, or would like a more flexible lifestyle, the internet offers all these opportunities.

Why An Internet Business?

1- Flexibility

Many people come to find themselves with an internet business through necessity rather than deliberate creation. For me, I needed a flexible job which I could work around contract work. It didn’t come in often but when the phone rang, I needed to take the work. This presented all kinds of problems. Normal work didn’t pay as well and employers didn’t want me taking large chunks of time off when the other work came in!

I tried juggling several jobs over a number of years but nothing seemed to fit. At around the same time I was attempting to use e-bay to buy and sell for a bit of extra money. It wasn’t until later that I discovered affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing, for those who don’t know is a kind of referral selling. You point links from your website to other people’s goods and services. The link is tracked so that when you make a sale you are rewarded for it with a commission.

Once you know how to do this you can set up links from your online content to other people’s products and services. You can also use paid advertising to find people all over the world to sell to. This was perfect for my work because I could take my laptop anywhere with me and as long as I had an internet connection I could work. It didn’t interfere with the work when it came up, I had no boss to answer to so it was the perfect solution.

2 – Automation

There’s also a number of other reasons why I chose an internet business – and why you should too! The flexibility of the business was my primary concern. I wanted to be able to choose my own hours so I could take work when it came without any complications. But the other reason I chose this particular model was the ability to use technology to ‘leverage’ my time and income.

Once I had a website and content up and running, it kept going and I was able to make sales and deliver products without being physically present. This is the ‘magic’ of an online business. The automation involved with an online business means that you can do the work once and let that work keep running in the background. You can make sales and deliver products over and over through the same piece of content or advert, which can run an virtual autopilot 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.

Each piece of content you create can send people to a landing page and sell a product. By creating many pieces of content and sharing them online you can build multiple sources of income which can all run continually, working as your own ‘automated sales team’.

3 – Ability To Scale

Along with this amazing automation is the ability to scale your business. Because there is no human intervention in the ‘sales loop’, multiple sales can happen instantaneously through the same platforms. Your content and advertising can be grown over time and scaled instantly (in the case of paid advertising). As your content gets more shares and more people flow through your website and content, your sales grow as a result. If you use paid advertising you can also scale a profitable campaign up easily by increasing your daily budget.

The automation of an online business makes it very easy to scale. In the case of a physical business this often means more staff, sales tools, larger office space and a whole lot more expense and hassle. With an online business everything is already in place. You simply need to send more customers through the automated sales systems with content and/or paid advertising methods.

4 – Low Startup Costs

When I started an online business I did it from my own pocket. I didn’t need a massive loan and I worked at a level which suited my budget. An internet business is very cost effective and you can start from scratch from pretty much any budget. If you have more to invest you can grow it faster with paid advertising. But, if you are on a budget like I was when I got started, you can get started easily and cheaply.

With a regular ‘bricks and mortar’ business there are many overheads to consider. Your costs include a business premises, staff, hardware and stock. Then there’s advertising and delivery costs. With an online business you just need a laptop and an internet connection – two things many people already have. Your main cost is getting the right education and learning the best strategy to build on.

5 – Simplicity

Technology has made it much easier than was previously possible to set up your own website and learn how to use simple online platforms to connect people to products and services. Advertising and content creation is now available for anyone to use. Websites can be set up with a few clicks and anyone with an email can learn to use the tools and strategies of online marketers.

Whereas previously website building was the domain of the tech savvy programmer, now anyone can use simple user friendly platforms and programs. An online business sounds like something for a technical person, but anyone can now learn the skills needed to build their own online business.

6 – Control

An internet business gives you control over your life. Of course it takes time to build up to a stage where it can replace your current income. But the flexibility of an internet business means you can work it around your existing employment until you can make this happen.
Once your income is beyond that of your employment, you are in a very good position to take charge of your life. You don’t have to do the daily commute, or put up with an uncomfortable working situation. If you don’t like your job you can quit. Don’t like your boss? Fire him/her!
One of the very best things about an internet based business is the control it gives you over your life. You can also build your work around your lifestyle, rather than the other way round. Most people are forced to put work first in everything they do. Family time, holidays and hobbies all tend to depend and evolve around work. An internet business allows you to prioritize the things in your life which mean the most. It can put you back in the driving seat of your life, both in terms of what you earn and how you spend your time.

7 – Work From Anywhere

Not only does an internet business offer great flexibility in terms of working hours but it also offers you the choice to work from anywhere globally. This appeals to many people who would otherwise be more trapped by conventional work in a localized workplace.
For me, it was the flexibility of being able to choose my own hours and not have a boss. But for many the ability to travel anywhere globally is the most important factor to owning their own online business.
Take your laptop anywhere with an internet connection and work while abroad and travelling.

8 – Learn Life Skills

The skills I have learned from building my own internet business also make me much more employable. I also worked for an internet based company with the skills I learned from my laptop while sitting at home!

Being able to reach people globally and target specific types of people is a great skill and very desirable in business too. I was also able to use the knowledge I learned online to build one of my other physical businesses much more quickly by using both my website building skills and paid advertising.

The internet is a fantastic opportunity for anyone to be able to improve themselves, learn new skills and build another source of income. Skills learned are yours for life, whether or not you continue down the path of building an online business.

9 – Independence

We might believe ourselves to be independent but many of us are very dependent on our work for income. As such, our employers tell us how much we can earn, how much holiday we can take and what we will be doing while at work. Financial independence is the ultimate freedom.

When we are financially independent we can take a holiday whenever we please and work in our own time and on our own agenda. An online business gives you the automation and independence to live life on your terms, without the agenda of an employer running your life.

10 – Sovereignty

Being an owner gives you sovereignty. The ability to call the shots in your business is what many entrepreneurs aspire to. As a business owner your actions determine whether you make a success of your business or not.

Having a successful online business gives you the kind of freedom which most people will never see in their lifetime. The ability to create your own life on your terms is the reward of having worked hard on your business and on yourself.

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How to Evaluate the Performance of Your Company Based on Your Business Plan

A business plan is one of the most important documents that is needed for the betterment of the business. It includes all the need to know strategies, marketing techniques, sales techniques and financial forecasting methods that will be used to increase profits and revenue of the business. However, writing a business plan is no walk in the park. It takes a lot of time and concentration and is one of the biggest responsibilities that will be undertaken. For this crucial task there are dedicated people called business plan consultants. They will be the people who take the ideas that the entrepreneur has and converts it into a document that will be viewable by the whole world. Since this is a very big responsibility business plan consultant fee is a bit high. There are many factors that affect a good business plan and a great business plan will help the business clarify the business idea, identify potential problems in the business, find out objectives of the business and monitor the progress of the business. Since this is a very important document it is vital to keep a keen eye on the following factors when writing the business plan.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is the highlight and the brief description of the entire business. This has to be highly detailed but short enough so that a potential investor is able to read and understand the status of the business. It does not mean that it has to be limited to one or two pages.

The executive summary will include the highlight of the business concept which will describe about the product or service and the market that they are being offered. Then there are the financial features which talks about all the sales, profits, return on investment and cash flow. Then the summary has to mention about the financial requirement that is need to invest in the business and talk about the capital and how to expand the business. The current position of the business will be stating about the business’s present state and how it got here. Finally, the major achievements of the business is needed to be mentioned so that the potential investors could be impressed by the achievement that the business has done.

Business Description

The business description is about the details of the business. This should not be a highlight about the entire business like the executive summary but the in depth analysis of the business. The description has to start with a short introduction which states about the past, present and future of the industry. Here you should mention about the markets that the business will be interacting with and the future market places that business will be willing to interact with. The products or services that the business is still developing should be thoroughly discussed here so that the potential investors who have got an idea and are willing to invest in the business can get a thorough knowledge about it.

The structure of the business has to be described in the business description. The hierarchy of the business and the business places should be described in detail. The legal considerations of the business should be thoroughly stated so that there is clarity for everyone.

Market Strategies

When developing the market strategies there has to be a lot of market research done on the market place. This will give the business entrepreneur a very good idea about the potential market and how he can use the market to increase the profits of the business. After observing the market the company will be in a position to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the business and will be able to develop a system in order to identify the potential opportunities and threats. These studies will also be able to develop strategies to forecast the market place’s prices and when to supply more goods and services. These has to be clearly mentioned in the business plan so that these strategies can be used when necessary.

Pricing and Distribution

The process of pricing and distribution has to be clearly detailed in the business plan. The descriptions about all the prices must be mentioned in detail in this section. How the business can lower the prices when necessary and how t react to the fluctuating prices has to be mentioned in detail. The process of distribution of the products until it reaches the hands of the customer has to be clearly stated.

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Small Business Benefits of Training Employees

Small businesses aspiring for growth need to keep an eye on performance improvement through online business training courses. To measure up to the ever evolving business world, small businesses need new skills to facilitate workforce gains and to generally meet the competent needs of operations in tandem with its competitors.

Small business training for employees provides an additional skill and exposure to the individuals and to the business. It is more flexible and less strenuous to do an online business training course. This consequently improves your company to continue effectively. Most small businesses fail to recognise the beneficial aspects of training its employees. Among many other advantages that come with training are the following benefits:

To Effectively Improve Your Company’s Competence

Training your employees will result in a better customer service, improved business skills, and growth in productivity. This ultimately makes your business more competent and competitive in the market. It is important to always advance the skills of the employees as the business world is dynamic and overly competitive. The direct tragedy of non-trained employees is the incompetence to match up the necessities of a contemporary society. It is important to consider an online business training course if the difficulty is time or cost of doing a recommended training.

Improving Loyalty and Staff Retention

As a business, staff retention is a saving to the business and its future prospects. Employees have their own aspirations for growth and they may want to venture out to look for that satisfaction. However, if the training opportunity is available to them, they find their professional growth in the business and are likely to stay longer. It is a fact that such training will definitely add them new skills and promote their contribution to the business as well as building their self-esteem. Giving them a chance to improve their skills makes them realise that you value them enough to invest in them.

Improved Business Prospects and Profits

The ultimate objective of running a business is to maximise an opportunity to make profits. Training employees makes them more competent and qualified to promote your business in the marketplace. This will have an effect and an increased business means more profits.

Makes Your Business Competitive

Stagnating is the worst effect that can kill your business, so by ensuring that your staff are constantly advancing, you continue to grow in business and remain competitive within the industry. It is expensive and very disorienting to employ new staff. An online business course for your employees can make them more eligible for internal promotions. Unlike new employees, you will have the benefit of a complete and knowledgeable staff for your business, who are people you know and you can trust.

Exposes Business Weaknesses and Skill Gaps

Training makes the business realise what they have been doing wrong and henceforth, the business can more easily identify any skill gaps in the market and even within the existing employees. This will propel your business to work on filling the gaps which will assist the staff to fulfil their role effectively.

Conclusion

Training is therefore a valuable and profound investment for the business. For the many businesses that may not have adequate time, an online business training course would be more appropriate. The staff will have a much higher sense of job satisfaction, which will improve their motivation towards their work and the business generally.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Buying a Business and Initial Steps

Buying a business is considered as a safe haven by many entrepreneurs as it involves a lesser risk than starting a new business from scratch. Even though buying an existing business seems to have lesser hassles in many aspects, one should practice due diligence to ensure a successful landing.

It is true that business brokers can help you in completing business acquisition deals, but to make it in your best favor, you should make yourself fully knowledgeable about the process and also should gain a solid grip on the purchase to make it profitable.

Advantages of buying an existing Business

The major advantage of buying an existing business is avoiding the huge startup costs. It is not just all about the cost involved, but the time and effort to be invested in terms of start-up establishment is way too high when compared to acquisition of an existing business.

As the business concept, fundamental works, brand establishment, and customer base are already set, you can jumpstart with cash flow instantaneously on the basis of the receivables. You can also enjoy the benefits of having a solid and loyal client base.

Disadvantages of buying an existing business

Even though buying a business seems to be beneficial in many aspects, there are also some downsides to it. The cost of purchase of a profitable business can surely be much higher than the establishment cost of a business.

There may also be underlying problems associated with the business you purchase such as their debts, deterioration of assets, problems with receivables etc.

Starters’ right approach

Anytime when you are getting on to buying a business, there will be thousands of opportunities popping up. It is you who know it at best about which type of business you need to pursue and what your priorities are. Here is a right approach to narrow down your choices and land up on a perfect deal.

It is important to rightly identify your interests and area of expertise while getting on to buying a business. If you are totally blank about what type of business to invest, the best move is to eliminate those which don’t seem to be interesting to you to shorten the list.

Consider your expertise while you are planning to buy a business. You may not be able to run something which you are fully ignorant about. Such a filtering also will help you narrow down your considerations to the best acceptable businesses.

Do proper groundwork to come up with a set of conditions as location, timings, size of the business etc.. Only consider the business satisfactory meeting your demands. While considering a business, just drop those which don’t at least meet 80% of your conditions to end up with the best in hand.

You also need to quantify your investment before searching for opportunities for buying a business. Check out for reasons why the business is put on sale and take a decision accordingly.

Keeping all these in mind, you need to perform due diligence while planning to buy a business and if not confident on doing it on your own, consider the option of reliable business brokers to take it up on your behalf.

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