Sales & Support 1-888-220-7361

The Reciprocal Consulting Blog

You are Browsing the November 2010 Archive:

One of the downsides of the Internet is the lack of privacy. It can be amusing to see individuals jump up and down because Facebook has breached their privacy when the exact same information is freely available on their website. I guess it’s the principle at stake. However, it does lead to my point that, online, there is very little privacy. When it comes to competitive intelligence, the information is out there and often easy to find.

The biggest source of information are the search engines. Search engines spend their whole being scouring the web looking for information that hasn’t been indexed, and updating information it already has. Don’t let anyone fool you into believing the search engines only index web pages – they certainly don’t. Images, videos, tweets, and forum posts along with a million and one other social media conversations are all being indexed and, once indexed, they could appear in search results.

When seeking information related to your competitors, the hardest part is not finding the information; it is sifting through to get to the real data. A review, for example, could be written by an affiliate, a disgruntled customer, a pay-for-post blogger, or perhaps even an employee.  Of course, don’t be surprised if you come across data that appears to be wrong. Smart business owners are trying to foil competitors by placing misinformation in certain areas – misleading keywords in meta tags is an obvious one.

Is it wrong to collect competitive intelligence? Businesses have been doing it for thousands of years – the Internet has just made it easier. Besides, if you’re a strong competitor, you can bet they are looking over your shoulder right now! Privacy – you’re online – what privacy?

If you are running a business with an online presence, then social media marketing has to be a part of your strategy. I cannot think of any niche where social media couldn’t be of some benefit, and if ‘Likes’ become the new ‘Links’, then it will become a whole lot more important. However, a social media presence means more than just creating a profile. Here are the six most important internet marketing must do’s.

Profiles:

Your profile is a reflection of your business. It could be one of the first things that visitors look at. Make sure it accurately reflects your business. Don’t spam by linking to sales pages; link them to the most important social pages on your website – don’t have one, get one!

Engage:

Create as many opportunities for two-way conversation as possible. If you publish a blog, open it up to comments. Don’t forget to edit out the spam and to respond to comments. Likewise, wherever possible, make commenting on social media easy and respond when appropriate. Get that two-way communication going.

Transparency:

Don’t hide, and don’t bury negatives. If there is a negative comment left, respond to it accordingly. Unless legal issues prevail, admit errors and act to remedy them. Be sure that others can see that the issue has been resolved.

Personnel:

If there is more than one person in the business, particularly more than one involved with social media marketing, introduce them, let your visitors and followers know who they are and what their role is. Just as importantly, make sure they identify themselves in any conversations.

Follow:

Social media marketing is all about communication. Be sure to follow people are important to you. At the same time, if someone you follow starts to spam, unfollow them – don’t help them to spread their trash.

Content:

Create content that is suitable for social media. It doesn’t have to be a video or podcast. Creating content on your blog that invokes two conversations is important. Creating a welcome page dedicated to each social media channel can really personalize a new relationship.

Social media marketing is about to become more mainstream so the last thing you need is to be left behind. Start with those six steps and you will be on the right road to success.

Online videos – for some business owners, they have proven to be a godsend. For others, they are an area that’s too scary to venture into. For the latter, relax and check out what your competitors are doing in the area of video production and publishing.  Videos are now a proven valuable marketing tool, even inexpensive home made videos.

Are professional videos better? It actually depends on what sort of image you are trying to create. If your business is targeting younger adults and you are using a fun, happy-go-lucky approach, then wacky home made videos could be all that is needed – in fact, the wackier the better. If your business is a little more on the serious side, then having a professionally produced video could well produce dividends.  What is interesting are the number of seemingly wacky home made videos that are actually professionally produced and the number of professional looking videos that are home made – in some cases, I dare you to pick them!

But can videos make a real difference? One of the heaviest trafficked sites is YouTube and websites that do incorporate videos report strong viewing statistics. If you are looking for viral content, then videos are just as likely to go viral as a photo or story – in some cases more so.

Video for video sake is not likely to make much of a difference. However, if you have something to say, a point to make, or can make life easier for your customers (for example, step-by-step how-to videos), then videos can make a significant difference to your business’s overall reputation. Good videos are also valuable for building brand awareness. If you’re not sure if video is right for your business, ask a professional in the online video marketing business.

We create site maps so that search engines and visitors can find all the pages in our websites, so is it time to create a similar map of all our social conversations? Site maps list every page a website owner wants indexed – a social conversation map would similarly map every social conversation we wanted indexed or followed – or made available to our visitors.

I am not sure what you could call it. A social site map, a social conversation map, or my favorite, a social cite map  – but then, what’s in a name? it’s the concept that’s interesting. I can certainly see a range of benefits to such a map. Obviously, if published, search engines would be able to follow the links to your conversations, and perhaps even index them. Your visitors can follow links to conversations which could lead to more followers, more links, and perhaps more likes. And for you as a website owner, it may help you keep track of past conversations and make it easy to reference them when required.

How you would develop a social cite map is another question. There is software available that helps you track current conversations – if you need to manually extract that data to build a social cite map it could become time consuming. Of course, waiting would make the creation even harder if you wanted to include old data.

A social cite map – it’s an interesting concept, and one worth considering. If the logistics could be worked out, I can see a lot of benefits to website owners, their visitors, and perhaps even search engines. What do you think? Any ideas on how we could create a ‘social cite map’ as part of our social media optimization strategies?

Bruce Clay suggests that social media ‘likes’ will become the new ‘links’ when it comes to delivering traffic.  There’s a strong possibility he’s right too. Search engines are paying more attention to social media activity and Facebook is now becoming a dominant player when it comes to receiving and delivering traffic.

I can see real dangers in using social media as a voting platform. Social media likes will be no different to the current link-based voting system (and that is all links are – votes).  Clay rightfully points out that ‘likes’ will eventually be sold as links are now; the problem is, at present, it can take thousands of links to affect a position in search results. We have also seen businesses uses various forms of bribery to gain likes from followers. One wonders how many likes it will take to make a difference – at present, likes in the high hundreds seem to be sufficient.

As with links, likes will not represent quality. Likes will go to people who have effective social media marketing campaigns, can make offers available that attract likes (or direct bribery), and can produce effective viral campaigns. That last will become the real key. Social is far more powerful than any link-building strategy. Social already has a strong web-like structure so viral campaigns have the capacity to reach a much higher audience at faster speeds than traditional methods.

There are two dangers for many businesses, particularly small businesses. Like it or not, you will have to engage in social media. Furthermore, like it or not, you will need to engage in social media marketing targeted towards ‘likes’ as much as traffic, sales, or product awareness.

Most small business owners are not smart marketers. Where social has provided small business owners with a somewhat level playing field, the future may not be as accommodating. Will ‘likes’ improve the quality of content? In the short term it should, but long term, you have to wonder!

Facebook – to many people it’s a fad, or a place for kids and their friends to hang out. And, on both scores, they are. And that’s what makes Facebook all the more important. Yes, it’s a fad, but it’s not going away any time soon. And, yes, it is a place where kids and their friends hang out; along with their moms and dads and any other member of the extended family wanting to keep in contact.

From a business perspective, it’s a unique meeting place that has never been achieved in such numbers in the history of mankind. Think about it – where else in history have you had millions of people, all linked in one form or another, in the one place where marketers can display their wares? Nowhere, I can think off.

But does Facebook deliver? That’s the most important question on any business owners mind? According to one report, Facebook is delivering more content than YouTube. Considering YouTube is extremely popular (some say the second biggest search engine on the internet), then that is a lot of content. If you want raw numbers, Facebook delivered 24% of pageviews to YouTube’s 6.93% and Google’s somewhat paltry 4.13% – perhaps that puts the whole Facebook discussion into some perspective.

There is a simple moral to this data. Google is still king of search, but search is losing its position as king of the online world. Users are now heading to social media first, often making it the start page in their browser.  While optimizing pages for search is still important, having a strong online position on Facebook is now becoming important as well. The real danger for many businesses is similar to what we saw ten years ago in search. A lot of businesses shunned search as unimportant – look at it now. Don’t make the same mistake with social – catching up will be even harder.

There are many businesses that have foregone organic search and social media marketing so they can concentrate on pay per click advertising on its own. And they are doing it successfully. There are pluses and minuses to this approach, and one of the biggest minuses is cost. However, well managed, it is possible. Let’s look at some of the advantages.

Content – you don’t have to continuously generate content to stay on top of organic search results. You can create a website that is very tight and that is designed purely to produce results.

Targeted Traffic – the traffic that is arriving on your site is there because they are looking for what you have to offer. Targeted traffic is everyone’s goal; pay per click is one of the best sources.

Costs – while pay per click can be expensive, those costs are tightly controllable. You can set tight budgets, put limits on your costs per click and even control how much traffic is arriving on your website each day.

Control – you have more control over your business. You will have a reasonable idea how much traffic is coming in each day, what the conversion rate is, and in some cases, how much stock you need in reserve. Organic search can be all over the place when it comes to traffic numbers and conversion rates.

While some businesses are highly successful using pay per click advertising alone, it’s not for everyone. To be successful you need a well designed website, good landing pages that convert well, and a good selection of converting keywords. Most importantly, you need good products or services that have profit margins that make pay per click a profitable option. What many of these businesses do have in common is a team of pay per click experts helping them achieve their goals.

Internet marketing covers a wide range of activities, all designed to promote your business, your brand, your website and/or yourself. One area of Internet marketing that is often either overlooked, or misused, is that of blog commenting. In most cases, people are looking at blogs as possible link opportunities and while this should not be dismissed, blog comments can deliver much more than just a link.

The key to successful blog commenting is to find blogs that have a high profile in your niche. It doesn’t matter if the comments are ‘no follow’ or ‘do follow’ since links should not be your primary aim. Your primary aim is to determine what factors are affecting people in your niche, and to promote yourself as an authority in that niche.

You need to identify conversations early, and to participate in them using your knowledge and experience. Don’t even consider participating in conversations that don’t relate to your area of expertise. Instead, cultivate relationships with those that are regular participants themselves. You may find it useful to follow their links to their blogs where you can continue that relationship. Overtime, you will develop a reputation for being an expert in your niche.

Being recognized in this manner will naturally lead to traffic from those blogs, and over time, perhaps even links. Your reputation will also travel to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, furthering your circle of influence. The end result of this activity is a good reputation, traffic, and perhaps even a boost to search engine optimization outcomes. The hardest part is simply finding conversations early so you can make significant contributions rather than arriving late when the action’s all over.

Here’s a tip – find high profile blogs then subscribe to their feeds, that way you should get early notice when they publish new content.

Google have changed the way search results are displayed and the new changes could make online reputation management just that little bit easier. The last modification to search results was to publish two related links on a domain for certain search queries. These queries include a search for domain by name, a search for a business by name, and a search for a brand by name. Google have now increased that from two related pages to a maximum of four pages.

You may wonder how that will help with reputation management. If your website is able to claim the top four listings, and you have a blog that is also able to take the next four listings, you will now have the top eight listings in search results covered. According to the Google blog:

As before, we still provide links to results from a variety of domains to ensure people find a diverse set of sources relevant to their searches. However, when our algorithms predict pages from a particular site are likely to be most relevant, it makes sense to provide additional direct links in our search results.

That variety of domains could well be your blog, especially if it is hosted on its own domain with the appropriate domain name. Don’t be surprised to see businesses now registering domain names using their business name with the term ‘blog’ or similar added to the end. We recently reported on an admission from Matt Cutts that exact domain matches rank higher than they normally should. Put the two together and you have two sites that rank highly for any searches on those domain names.

It’s only a small step since your reputation can be badly tainted in many other ways. Reports may not float to the top of search results based on your business name, but they could based on product names, perhaps a brand name, and through non-search entities such as social media. Still, every little bit helps, and this change will certainly go a long way to protecting a business’ reputation in the search results. All you need now is a blog that is ranking well – you do have one, don’t you???

We seem to be going through a period of rapid fire announcements from search and social media outlets. At times, there is a flurry of activity as website owners try to absorb changes all the while looking for holes they can use to gain an advantage over competitors. Sometimes, it’s worth stopping, taking a deep breath, and really analyzing what steps should be taken. Occasionally, doing nothing may be the best option.

AllFacebook recently reported that Facebook wall allowing brands to claim community pages that had been created using their brand name. They further claim that businesses could claim up to five community pages as their own, effectively wresting control from the creators and placing editorial control in the hands of the brand owners. For some brands, having community pages that reflect poorly on their business has been, at the very least, an irritation. However, there are many community pages that don’t reflect poorly so before jumping in and claiming them, you may want to consider a few points.

  • does the page hurt your business/brand?
  • is the page a good independent view of your business/brand?
  • will claiming this page alienate followers?

One area where I see businesses wanting to claim community pages is when they have a large group of followers. By claiming community pages, you are able to access that group and send them marketing material. This could become another privacy issue for Facebook since users had followed that community page, not the business. It will be interesting to see if privacy raises its head.

So why do I suggest doing nothing?  It makes sense to claim community pages if they are having a negative effect on your business. However, if there are ten community pages currently live, which five are you going to claim? And what happens next week or next month if one of the remaining five begins to publish harmful material? Community pages are generally created by those interested in your product. There are some that try to profit off your brand, and claiming them could be seen as worthwhile. For the others, they epitomize what social is all about and probably best left in peace. If they do cause problems in the future then you’ll be in a position to act. The next generation of online marketing may well be through third parties such as Facebook community pages, mom bloggers or Tweeters.

You should only act if the action itself helps to improve your standing in social communities and helps to build your business. Sometimes, acting can do more harm than good so don’t be rash in your decision making.

Search engine marketing and social media marketing have long had an interesting relationship. It’s easy to compartmentalize and say that such and such belongs here while this and that belong over there. But it’s not necessarily helping your business to do that.

Search engine marketing and social media marketing are both forms of Internet marketing. As such, they have something in common. But they also have some overlap, which means that they likely have more in common than simply categorization.

For instance, you’ve likely seen social media profiles, or even posts, updates, and tweets, in search results. That means that social media can be a form of search engine marketing. And certain social media – like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – even have their own search features, some of which are quite popular. YouTube has even been called the second largest search engine in terms of volume.

I think someday Facebook may surpass YouTube in terms of volume of searches. But will they include off-site search in that deal?

Long story short, don’t expect to compartmentalize your Internet marketing strategies forever. You should really develop one Internet marketing strategy that pulls all of your online marketing together and crafts it such that the strategies work together – not against each other.

Technorati released its annual State of the Blogosphere report earlier this month and one of the standout statistics is that mom bloggers are steadily becoming strong influencers. Not only are they becoming strong influencers, they are turning their power into online businesses – successful ones at that.

Marketing experts have known for decades that moms are the key to many successful marketing campaigns. The belief in many marketing departments is that males have little in the way of brains when it comes to shopping, even for their own needs. If you want to sell a male a product, target the women in their lives – that was the mantra.

With mothers now taking to blogging, they are starting to wield some incredible power. In the days before the Internet, women, in particular mothers, would have get-togethers while the kids were at school and have, what many males considered to be, regular gossip sessions. They would discuss everything from little Johnny’s antics at school to what products they like and dislike. Now they are doing the same online except, instead of half a dozen mothers getting together, we have hundreds, if not thousands, reading these blogs – and I use the plural judiciously since most mothers regularly read more than one mommy blog.

Is there a message for business owners in this new environment? I think there could be. Mothers have been strong influencers for a long time. They are steadily growing in numbers when it comes to blogs and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. The future for many businesses will depend on how well they can connect with these moms, particularly through social media. Do it well, create a positive relationship, and they will most likely support your business. Do it poorly and there is a good chance your business will be mocked by this growing group.

Remember, moms have always had the ability to influence those around them. Now that they are starting to realize the power of the Internet, they are starting to flex their muscles and let their voices be heard – are you listening at all?

Now I know most will argue that Yahoo! is now out of search, and in the traditional sense, they are. However, the time is ripe now to step out of your safe ‘traditional search’ shoes and to start thinking laterally. Yahoo! has made several major announcements, all related to local search, and much of it designed with the mobile user in mind.

Yahoo! have announced several apps that will make it easier for people to access information on the web.  For example, they can find restaurants close to where they are then book a table by way of OpenTable, the restaurant booking service. What should interest business owners is the launch of Local Offers. As the name suggests, users can click through to see what offers are currently available in their area. Some of the Yahoo! partnerships for this service inlcude:

  • Groupon,
  • LivingSocial,
  • Gilt City,
  • BloomSpot,
  • BuyWithMe,
  • DealOn,
  • Zozi,
  • CrowdSavings,
  • Lifebooker,
  • FreshGuide,
  • Scoop St,
  • Goldstar,
  • HomeRun,
  • Tippr,
  • Coupons.com, and
  • Valpak.

Users now can access their Yahoo! page where they can read the latest news, read what’s available at local business restaurants along with free offers from local businesses, all without having to enter a search term.  Google have been working away at making local search (now Google Places) as user friendly and relevant as possible. In fact, they have made one or two interesting changes to local search themselves this week.

Will this change local search in any way? It’s a hard call, and it will depend on how well Yahoo! can sell the feature, and how well it draws he crowds.

There are two things that visitors are going to notice when they first land on one of your pages – how it looks and what it says.  Let’s assume you have hired a professional website designer to create attractive easy-to-negotiate pages, so your website looks great. What about the content?

One of the problems with search engines is that they generally rank old pages above new pages. Google, for example, may talk a lot about ‘fresh content’, but for most searches the pages listed are fairly old.  If your site has been around for awhile then those old pages are going to rank fairly well, even if the information on them is a little outdated.

This is where your reputation could take a real hammering. If visitors feel the information is too old, too out of date, or no longer relevant, there is a good chance they’ll hit the back button rather than seeking fresher content on your site. Flagging the fact that the information is outdated and linking to fresher content may not attract them either.

You have several options. You could redirect to fresher content as long as the new page is about the same subject. You could also rewrite the content to bring it up to date. It seems to be pointless having a redirect to new content when you could simply update the content on that page.

Reputation management starts at home – that is, it starts with what you say and do on your own website. While search engine marketing and social media marketing are all the rage at present, taking time to review those old pages on your website is equally important. Is the content still relevant, accurate, and able to answer the needs of your visitors? If not, give it a lick of polish and bring it up to date.

If you are a new business just setting up then you are going to find it tough. There’s no point mincing words – search is quickly becoming saturated, especially when it comes to short one- or two-word keywords, and ranking highly quickly is just not going to happen. It’s not all doom and gloom, however. If you work your way methodically you can succeed and, over time, you can start to make a serious impact in search results – it all depends on your approach.

Chasing highly competitive keywords is the quickest way to bankruptcy. Your competitors have had a big head start on you and their search engine optimization programs will make it much harder for you to compete. If you are results oriented, then you can start to make an impact. It’s really a very simple process on paper (not so simple in application). What is the process?

Keywords – Finding keywords that are still competitive. They may not receive zillions of searches each day, but that factor alone makes them attractive.

Optimizing – Optimizing your web site for those keywords is the next step. This includes all the usual onsite and offsite factors.

Analyzing – Now comes the results orientated process – are those keywords starting to rank; are they delivering traffic; and are they converting into sales? If they are, you are on the right track; if not, why not? – this is the real analysis process.

More Keywords – Once you are starting to see results, it’s time to go back and take another look at those keywords. Your first list contained keywords with low competition – it’s now time to start attacking keywords with a little more competition – then optimize, then analyze. It’s a process that never stops and, over time, you may well be in a position to attack those top-of-the-chain keywords.

The key to succeeding in a highly competitive market is to start by attacking the lesser quality keywords – running a strong search engine optimization campaign – then steadily building on that base. In two, three or perhaps four years time, you will look back and be amazed at far you have traveled. Build your business on results rather than trying to be number one overnight – it’s not going to happen.

When it comes to reputation management, there are always two aspects that you must look at. What you do and say and what others can do or say to hurt you or your business. There are a number of measures you can put in place to protect your business and your brand, but how far do you need to go?

This question sprung to mind when I read that Facebook was likely to introduce an email system of their own. One of the questions I keep reading is whether you would prefer a Facebook email address or a Gmail email address. My initial reaction is one of  – why either/or? If you are running an online business then surely your email address is something like yourname@yourdomain.com?

However, returning to reputation management, in particular your brand, do you need to protect your brand by claiming it as an email address on Facebook? I mentioned there were two aspects to reputation management – what you do, and what others do. The big question here is – if you have a branded Facebook Fan Page and someone else claims your brand as an email address, can they hurt your business? While unlikely, it does have the potential to create some harm so with that in mind you probably should do everything possible to claim it.

Have you secured your brand on Facebook? If you haven’t then everything in this post could be moot.  We come back to that question – can someone else harm your brand or business by using either on Facebook or Twitter or any of the other major social media sites? If they can then perhaps you should look to securing them yourself before someone else does!

One of the big changes that we are likely to see into the future is that of vertical search. Vertical search is nothing more than a dedicated search portal for specific industries. The most popular examples are Trulia for real estate and Bing Shopping (formerly MSN Shopping) for product searches.

The down side to some vertical searches options is that, in reality, they are nothing more than paid directories. Rather than crawling the net and building their own database of pages, they rely on businesses like your own to provide the data. This doesn’t make them any less important, however, since consumers often access them in preference to organic search.

Can you optimize your business for vertical search? Optimize is probably the wrong term in this instance. Where vertical search options exist, business need to follow whatever processes are required to have their products or services listed. For example, Bing Shopping or Google Product search require an up-to-date product feed.

When thinking vertical search, don’t be limited to your niche. Vertical search covers a wide range of search options including blogs (blog search, Technorati), Social (Twitter, Facebook and Friendfeed) and video and images to name a few. With this in mind, you may find that through the use of blogs, videos, social media and a product feed, your web site could appear in several different and unrelated vertical search channels.

Vertical search is important in some industries, however, it hasn’t quite taken off when it comes to mainstream internet use  – yet.  Like local search (another vertical), niche related vertical search engines may well become one of the big changes into the future. Mainstream search engines have added verticals (blog, news, image, video, local) over the years and, as their databases become bloated, increasing the number of verticals will become a necessity if they want to maintain quality in search results.

If there are vertical search options available to your business, make use of them. They may not have a major influence on your business today, but they may well do so in the future.

Internet marketing is a very broad field taking in every online aspect from web design through search engine marketing and on to social media marketing. Whether you need all of these services, or just some components, before shelling out what resources you may have, consider asking these questions first.

  • Do they offer agency support for all search engines – many firms can offer support for Google, but they are not the only player.
  • What sort of training and experience have their consultants had
  • Do their consultants have technical knowledge and expertise of the search engines; again, not just Google
  • Do they have PPC management experience including keyword selection and split testing
  • Do they have access to PPC Beta programs
  • Can they identify and monitor click fraud
  • Can you agree to a month-to-month contract rather than committing to longer periods
  • Can they offer complementary services such as video production and the creation of Facebook Fan Pages
  • Do they have social media marketing experience
  • Can they provide professional reviews or examples of the work
  • Can they guarantee results

The last is almost a trick question. If they do guarantee results, ask them on what basis. In most cases, Internet marketing professionals may offer guarantees on their work, but not necessarily on the results since there are so many uncontrollable variables. If they offer guaranteed results – be wary.

When asking questions of prospective Internet marketing firms, you are looking for two things. Number one, you are looking for a team that is professional and proficient at what they do; and, number two, you are looking for a team that you can comfortably communicate with. The latter is almost as important as the first since poor communication often leads to disappointment and unsatisfactory results. It’s your money and your business – you need the best that you can afford.

If you concentrate a lot on SEO and organic traffic then you should also be concentrating on the news that steadily flows out of the various search engines. There are those around at present who have little idea that Yahoo! search is now really Bing search or that Ask.com has now folded its search arms and will concentrate now on it’s traditional Q&A sector.

Search engines are constantly changing their approach to search rankings so keeping on top of where their thinking is can be very important. News can also affect your past, present and future actions. For example, with Yahoo! and Ask not determining search results, do you still need the factors that many sites relied on. The keywords meta tag is a primary example – it now appears to be redundant although I know some who use the tag to confuse competitors (how? – load the tag with keywords you’re not targeting).

There are plenty of reports around the web today about Matt Cutts’ talk about Google and the directions of search. If a video of the talk raises its head then it will pay to actually watch it. You will find there are a lot of gems buried away in his talk including an admission that exact domain matches rank higher than they probably should.

Keeping up with the latest news is important when deciding the areas you need to target. This post probably appears to contradict yesterday’s post about avoiding too much information. However, it’s all relative to what you are attempting. If social media marketing is your game then concentrating on that material is important, not SEO. You also need to be able to filter the drivel away from what is important news. Of course, the bottom line is what you actually do with that information – but that’s your call.

Big businesses have one distinct advantage over small businesses – they can afford to employ dedicated teams to run their online presences. For small businesses, it’s often a case of running a business, growing a business, and if there’s any time left over, drowning in all the online advice and new tools that flood our inboxes every day.  If that’s you, don’t stress, you’re not the only one. In fact, New York Times tech columnist David Pogue, in an interview with WebProNews claimed that, “In the last three or four years…it’s becoming overwhelming for me.

If the pros are becoming overwhelmed, what chance is there for the hard working business owners trying to survive in an online world? While we are being swamped with new technology and new approaches, there are a number of things that small business owners can do to help themselves. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Limit your intake of news to two or three reliable sources and subscribe to them only. Don’t allow yourself to become swamped with too much information.
  • Find a small set of tools that you are comfortable with and stick to them. Rather than investigating new tools all the time, learn to get the most out of the tools you are using.  Internet marketing tools are constantly being updated so there are very few ‘old’ tools around these days.
  • Concentrate on the areas that are producing results. If you have free time, then explore new areas, but only one at time.
  • Consult an Internet marketing expert.  You will either get a tick for doing the right things, or helpful advice that should increase your profitability.

For smaller online businesses, the real key is time management. Working on and in your business is important if you want to continue to grow. However, you also need to set aside dedicated time for working at the online component.  Whatever you do, don’t become overwhelmed by all the new information – if you are, you’re simply trying to absorb too much.