Posted by: the3rdi | May 12, 2010

Search Engine Marketing On a Budget

*        Online is now the UK’s biggest advertising medium*
*        Market ad spend is worth £3.5bn*
*        39.7 million people online in the UK**
*        Four million new internet users in last twelve months**

With online advertising overtaking TV to become the UK’s biggest advertising medium* and continued growth in online ad spend worth £3.5bn in 2009*, smart businesses are turning to digital marketing.

Offering excellent value for money compared to traditional marketing platforms, digital marketing doesn’t need to be expensive. Every penny of investment must count for small businesses and there are many low cost ways to generate website traffic.

Top tips from Latitude Digital Marketing include:

Search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy
More than 50% of online purchases are preceded by research, so getting listed on the first few pages of search engines is crucial. The solution to achieve this is long tail keywords around specific services including the location of your business. For example, if you offer plumbing services then do not choose the keyword ‘plumber’ but rather ‘boiler repair Manchester’ or ‘drain unblocking Manchester’, which are less competitive, cheaper and are also more likely to generate business.

Find free sources of links for SEO

A plethora of free online business directories are available offering free basic listings and a link back to your website. A good example is Free Index ( <http://www.freeindex.co.uk/> www.freeindex.co.uk), which will provide direct website visitors as well as a valuable backlink – whilst Google places growing importance for regional businesses who can be found in location-based searches.

Utilising existing business relationships to negotiate a link from their website back to yours using a clickable hyperlink is also wise.

The majority of social media profiles, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and BT Tradespace have a section for a link to your website facilitating further customer engagement. This will generate
visitors to your website and significantly, be found by the search engines.

Specifically for retailers, getting products listed on comparison sites such as Kelkoo will not only generate additional sales, but will allow your products to appear in the search engine results pages.

Pay-per-click (PPC) strategy
To improve the prominence of a business online compared to SEO, PPC advertising can be secured via sponsored listings on search engines on a per-bid basis, capable of generating instant traffic faster than organic search results. If someone clicks on your PPC listing, they arrive at your website and you are charged the amount you bid every time people click on your PPC listing. Adopting a small compact keyword list focussing on the most profitable or best selling product is a prudent approach.  Start low, review the clicks as they come in, check your average position and determine whether you can afford to increase them further.

The next step is to test new keywords and adverts and consider setting up accounts with Microsoft and Yahoo. Although the volume of clicks available away from Google is much smaller, they are generally a lot cheaper generating low cost sales.

Performance tracking
When every click counts, it is imperative you have visibility on where that spend is going and how your search engine marketing is performing, so installing a web analytics package is vital.  By tracking performance from the outset a business can identify keywords not generating sales from a PPC campaign or review the validity of a keyword all together. Google analytics is completely free to install and enables full visibility of the keywords which are sending traffic to your website andwhat visitors are doing when they get there. It is also prudent to track conversions via enquiry form web pages by ensuring these are set up and
registered in your analytics package.

Online advertising campaigns offer small business owners a more cost effective way to reach out to a larger number of target customers than traditional marketing channels can accomplish. The performance of digital
marketing is also clearly measurable enabling campaigns to be monitored and tailored to ensure a tangible return on investment is achieved.

Compiled by Rob Weatherhead, Operations Director of Latitude Express

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