When we started teaching people about search engine marketing back in 1997, Google wasn’t even invented yet and the only paid search engine worth paying for was called GoTo.com (which became Overture and then Yahoo!). Instead of 3 or 4 search engines to worry about (Google, Yahoo!, MSN and Ask), there were 30 or so search engines we had to monitor.
When our sales people called people to pitch search engine marketing, prospects would almost always say “What’s that?”
Fortunately, today almost everyone knows what search engines are and most people understand how search engine marketing can grow their business. The question we get these days is “What can we do, in addition to search marketing?”
Here is my top 10 list of things to do outside of search engine marketing:
1) Link Build – Find sites that are topically relevant to your business and ask them to link to you. Reverse engineer where your competitors get their links from and get links from those sites too (try link:www.domain.com in Yahoo).
2) Create Content or Tools Worth Linking To – in the online marketing world, they call this link bait. If you are a mortgage broker, create a mortgage calculator. If you are an online marketer, create a free website ranking tool. Just create something cool that other sites will want to link to.
3) Start an In-House Email List – next to search, an opt-in, in-house email list is rated as one of the best ways to drive sales. We have some e-commerce clients that generate 20% of their business from sending out email blasts once a month.
4) Write Ariticles – if you want business prospects to find you online, write expert articles about your industry. Submit them to the top article distribution websites and get your name out there.
5) Use Online PR – find something interesting to tell the world about your business and submit it to the most popular online PR sites – PRWeb and BusinessWire. Make an announcement about your latest big deal or the Fortune 500 client you landed. Just have something to say.
6) Start a Blog – there are over 70 million blogs on the Web. Why? Because it’s easy to start a blog. If you have something valuable to put out into the business world, start a blog. It will help you add valuable content to your website, it will help you position your business uniquely above the competition, and it may even make you famous.
7) Market Your Blog – there are over 70 million blogs on the Web. If you want anyone to read your blog, you better spend some time marketing it. Register your blog with the top blog search engines – Technorati.
8 ) Work on Social Bookmarking – social networking sites like Digg, Furlï¿½ and Del.icio.us are the latest rage. People use these sites to vote for great content they find on the Web. Vote for your own stuff and get your friends to also.
9) Update Your Website – getting traffic to your site is only half the battle. Getting visitors to take your desired call to action (make a purchase, complete a form, sign up for a newsletter) is the other half. If your website conversion rate is 1%, you can double your sales by making your website better and increasing your conversion rate to just 2%.
10) Network – Get Out There – for most businesses, customers still come from relationships. Get out there and press the flesh!