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There has been a lot of discussion in various corners of the online world discussing the increased use of infographics. For those unsure of the term, infographics is the term used to describe the publication of data in an easy to read graphic. Rather than a table displaying information, it is converted into a pie chart that is well labeled and easy to see at a glance what a writer is referring to.  But do they make good link bait?

Images are always good link bait if they are appropriate. If you have unique and meaningful research that the rest of the web could be interested in, then converting that data into easy to understand graphics serves two purposes. It makes it easier for a reader to understand, and because it easy to understand, easy to refer to on their own sites – with links, of course.

The Internet has introduced two things to our modern society – a thirst for more knowledge and more information; and a need for speed. Users want the information quickly and they want it in a format that is easy to understand, easy to digest, and easy to access. Well presented infographics enable writers to present their data in such a way that they answer both of those needs.

Just as importantly, infographics are no different to any other graphic. When well optimized for search, they will appear in search results. Create infographics that are visually appealing and they will most likely draw the attention of the searcher – and a click through to your site. Can you present any of your data in the form of an infographic? If you can, you may find it increases the number of inbound links to your site.

The current theory is that you have five seconds to convince a web surfer to click through to your content. That’s the average time it takes a web surfer to read your title and decide whether or not it’s worth going deeper.  We often spend a lot of time talking about page titles on our websites or blogs, but that is only the tip of the iceberg.

Consider where you interact. Email, Facebook, and Twitter are social examples while pay-per-click marketing and search engine descriptions (either page or your local search listing) are important search marketing channels. Almost all of these channels have a size limitation when it comes to titles, descriptions, or content (Twitter, for example, limits your tweet to 140 characters), yet your marketing campaign (search or social) will depend largely on how well you can write them.

That will be the essential factor to successful marketing in 2011 – catching someone’s attention in as few words as possible. People receive a lot of emails in their inbox each day – your subject line has to convince them to open that email. The same is true of Twitter. Users are receiving hundreds of tweets each day, some hundreds each hour – can you catch their attention with 140 characters?

Being able to write short titles or descriptions that are catchy is not easy. At least, not if you have to do it every day.  One approach that is now worth considering is to push less often, but when you do to make it really count with a great title backed up by better quality content. Offline marketing has often demanded the creation of something catchy in as few words as possible. Offline, the limitation was size for print media and time for audio/visual. Online, when it comes to social media optimization – it’s the first five seconds that can make or break you – be sure to use it to advantage.

The online world can be quite frustrating at times. You write what appears to be quality content, content that answers a lot of questions that appear around forums and online Q&A sites, yet hardly anyone comes to read it.  So what is the problem?

In many cases, it is the search engine optimization efforts that are failing to deliver results. SEO today is only one tool.  There are many other channels that you can market your pages through and this is often the one area where many website owners let themselves down. Promoting content can be difficult, but there are channels where, with the right approach, you can effectively spread the word. These channels include:

Article Marketing – Don’t make the mistake of re-writing the article and submitting it to article sites. Write a complimentary article that introduces the subject and goes some way to answering a problem – leave the links in the article to drive readers to your page for the full answer. These articles work well for guest posts as well.

Q&A Forums – Perhaps one of the most underused resources on the Internet are sites like Yahoo! Answers. Find relevant questions and again answer the question briefly with a link to your pages for a fuller answer.

Social Media – Enter discussions on these topics and refer readers to your pages for more in-depth information.

These are just a few examples of where you can promote your high value content. At the same time, you may even give your search engine optimization program a boost by acquiring new links. What is important is that your pages are being promoted to help others solve issues and those references will remain for months or years continually delivering traffic to your website.

What is your reputation worth? Reputation and brand awareness go hand in hand – in fact, they both rely on each other when it comes to building a successful business. Mention a brand, any brand, and you will have positive or negative views on that brand (unless the brand is unknown to you, of course). As a business, you spend a lot of time promoting that brand, and a lot of time building a positive image around the brand. So what happens when you lose that brand?

That’s an issue that is facing TwitterMoms.com right now. They have built their website and brand to a point where they have a huge following. More importantly, they have a good reputation amongst both parents and businesses that provide goods and services to parents. I can imagine their horror then when they received a notice from Twitter to cease using their brand name.

TwitterMoms is about to become SocialMoms.com, and while the transition will no doubt be smooth, they will still have to do a lot of work to rebrand themselves, and to transfer their reputation from TwitterMoms to SocialMoms. Being a very successful website, they will be back on track in a very short time. But what if your business wasn’t quite as successful? What if it was only doing reasonably well in a highly competitive niche?

That one simple branding error could cost you business. It is difficult to build a positive image that is attached to a brand. Lose that brand and you have to rebuild a new one, and with it a reputation. In highly competitive niches, that could prove to be impossible. Your brand and reputation are closely tied together – lose one, and you potentially lose the other. When deciding on a brand name, the more unique you are and the easier it is to remember, the better. While riding on the wave of another brand may make life easier initially, it could, over time, prove to be a huge mistake – just ask TwitterMoms.

Looking around at many websites, they appear to have been created two or three years ago, and never updated. The Internet continues to grow and it continues to evolve. If you were to take a snapshot today and compare it with 2006, for example, you would notice quite a few changes. So my question for you today is quite simple – has your website’s design kept up with the latest trends?

What should today’s website look like? That’s a harder question, but I do suggest you consider some of the following:

Page loading speed – How fast (or slow) do your pages load?

Social integration – Social integration goes beyond just social ‘like’ buttons. Including or linking to reviews, incorporating Twitter feeds, allowing comments and linking to sites such as Facebook all help to open up that ‘social’ aspect of your business.

Video – Video has been a major player for several years now, but it is seeing a real growth when it comes to onsite publication on small business websites.

Overall aesthetics – Google Preview allows searchers to preview your site before clicking through. How appealing is your site?

Local Search – If your business services a geographic area, then local search brings requirements of its own. Having your address and telephone number on all pages and perhaps even a local map giving directions to your business will help potential customers find you, and do business with you (they also help you rank higher in local search)

The Internet continues to evolve on an almost daily basis. While your website’s design doesn’t quite need to be updated that often, an annual review is definitely something you should consider – perhaps you could make it one of your New Years resolutions.

According to a recent report on Search Marketing Standard, one of the best ways to increase a page’s chances of appearing on the front page of search results is to include video. It seems a video has a better chance of gaining a high ranking than a page does. In fact, it’s commonsense, there are fewer videos on any given topic than there are pages.

What should make most small business marketers sit up and take notice is that viewing video was the second most important conversion after ad clicks. Consumers are looking to relate to businesses and video is proving to be one of the best tools for achieving this. A video allows a potential customer to hear and often see the person they are about to do business with – add some important data like contact details and you have a fairly useful tool.

Videos on their own can be a very important sales tool. If a potential consumer can see a product in action, see how easy it is to use as well as the end results, then they are more likely to consider purchasing it when compared to just a text-based landing page.  Naturally, the video needs to be well made and clearly address the issue it was designed to answer. The quality of video production is become more important as users get used to high quality material being produced.

For a video to make it to page one, it needs to be well optimized including, titles and tags. It is also helpful to have your video transcribed – this makes it easier for search engines to determine the video’s content, and content is one of the guiding factors in ranking any page or video for search results. Get your video right, have it well optimized, and place it on your landing page, and you may well see an increase in sales.

Market your video well through social media like Facebook and YouTube and it could also lead to an increase in traffic. If the video ranks well in search results, then an increase in traffic is almost assured. Video marketing – it seems it pays to start with your landing pages if you want to increase conversions.

Frank Reed (on Marketing Pilgrim) has a tongue-in-cheek look at the supposed future death of email and all that it entails. There are a lot of valid points in what he says, however, the online world is a roller coaster world with various channels becoming popular before falling from grace. In fact, email marketing has already been through one major downturn and has only just recovered and become acceptable again over the last year or two.

Is it doomed, though? According to statistics, most definitely. Our youth are not taking to email at all, preferring instead the instant gratification found in text messages, social media, and instant messaging. That, however, does not really signify the passing of one technology; rather, it will mean that in the future it may be harder to acquire these email addresses.

There is one side of the email/social media argument that always strikes me as odd – most social media sites require their users to have valid email addresses. At present, you can’t have social media without email. I am sure they will get around that in the future. Of course, having an email address and actually using it is another matter. I also wonder how many young people answer these surveys honestly – to them, it’s ‘uncool’ to use email, yet many rely on email to receive social media notifications.

If email marketing is part of your online marketing strategy and it continues to deliver results, then I wouldn’t be panicking just yet. Email has plenty of life left in it as has email marketing. In fact, for many businesses, being able to closely target their customers with preferred offers makes this channel a much more profitable one than many others.

Recommendations have long been one of the most important driving forces in a businesses success. Often dubbed “word of mouth advertising”, that same principle that was so precious offline is now even more important online. The only thing that has changed is the name – online recommendations – and the viral nature of these recommendations.

A recent report clearly underlines how important this has become online.  The power of moms online has long been recognized and this is now delivering for those who can make use of their voice. According to the report, 79% of all moms with children under 18 are engaged in some way with social media.  More importantly, 23% of those moms purchased a product for their child based on the recommendations of others.

You don’t need to be a mathematician to realize that those percentages equate to millions of sales, all based on recommendations. Around 40% of recommendations came from Facebook while 55% came from recommendations on blogs.  The question for most marketers is how to capitalize on this trend. Unfortunately, there is only one way – you have to leave a positive impression on the moms that count – and hopefully they will recommend your products.

Moms have become a very picky group over the years. Gone are the days when you could send them a product and expect to see a recommendation on their blog. Instead, what you will now read is an honest appraisal of your product, warts and all.  Of course, the upside is that a recommendation from those respected moms is almost a guarantee of traffic to your sites, and perhaps sales.

This can be extrapolated across a range of niches. Online recommendations are becoming one of the mainstays of online marketing.  Convince those who influence others and you have won half the battle. The other half is meeting the expectations of customers coming from those recommendations.

A popular mistake by many online business owners is to concentrate their search engine optimization strategies purely on Google. They have 70% of the search market so you may say that’s fair enough. The Bing/Yahoo! search engine is still managing to draw 25% of the market – that’s a quarter of all searches. What is more important is that, over the years, when it comes to shopping, Yahoo! and Bing have been a consumer’s first preference.

Search statistics can be interesting, but they don’t always show the full picture.  Another factor worth considering is that only 61% of Google searches were successful as against over 80% when it came to Yahoo! and Bing.  That narrows the gap when it comes to actual visitor numbers – not significantly, but enough to seriously consider the Yahoo!/Bing search option seriously.

Most serious marketers have been targeting both Google and Yahoo!/Bing for a long time. While they may only have a small share of the search market, a well optimized site can still see a steady flow of visitors and anecdotal reports claim that Yahoo!/Bing traffic converts at a higher rate compared to Google.

The online world has become ultra competitive to the point every business owner needs to at least test out every option available. The Yahoo!/Bing alliance are making small inroads into Google’s search numbers and, if they can continue to deliver high success rates in search, they will continue to make that steady growth.

If you haven’t been taking the Yahoo!/Bing search alliance seriously, then now may be the time to consider it. There are not too many modifications required to also rank highly through Bing’s algorithm.

Sometimes the smallest things can have the biggest effect on any business. There are reports from Australia that a leading business group ‘forgot’ to renew their domain name.  Not only did they forget, they were unaware that it had then been sold off in a domain auction for over A$30,000.  It wasn’t a brand name or business name that they could lay any claim to either – it was the very generic, and one would have thought, highly desirable hardware.com.au domain.

To add insult to injury, the business group that picked the domain name up was one of their biggest rivals. Any reputation that can be attributed to that domain name will now flow to that business’s biggest rival. That’s more than just loss of reputation, that is taking the power of your reputation and gifting it to your competitor.

Some would claim bad management, and perhaps it was. How did they lose a domain name that was that important? They simply forgot to update the email address in the registrant details.  The lesson here for all businesses is to keep a firm eye on the little things behind an online business. Your domain name, and even your hosting account – forgetting to pay either can see your site disappearing overnight.

Losing a domain name like that is really unforgivable. Allowing your competitor to pick it up and use it is even worse.  Do you know when your domain name is due for renewal? Is all your information up to date in the registrant details?  Perhaps you had better check!

It is interesting to read some advice columns when it comes to social media marketing. Their first piece of advice often runs along the lines of creating a great profile, developing landing pages that will convert traffic, and general tips on how to interact with others. That advice is good advice – however, a successful social media campaign starts well before any of that.

While planning is crucial to the success of any business campaign, what is equally important in social media marketing is having very clearly defined objectives – and the smaller those objectives are, the easier it is to plan and the easier they are to plan. These objectives could be as simple as being able to interact with five new followers each day – in fact, your objective may be to collect five new followers each day.

Once you have a clearly defined set of objectives, you can then plan how you intend to achieve them.  Those plans of course will then include details such as putting together a profile, landing page, or even the design of pages such as your Twitter profile or a Facebook Fan Page – if you intend on having them.

In most cases, the general approach has been to create a profile, and to then accumulate as many followers as possible, irrespective of the quality of those followers. Once a business has accumulated a good number of followers, the question has been, ‘okay, now what do I do with them’. In other words, the planning starts well after the event. In the majority of cases, that approach is doomed to fail, often due to the poor quality of the followers.

By planning, you will know why people are following you, and if you know the why, the how in marketing becomes so much easier. Do your planning from the start, not down the track – that’s the most effective way to start a social media marketing campaign.

Pay per click advertising can be an expensive process if not undertaken correctly. The problem is, most people are excellent at running their business, sourcing or creating products, identifying target markets, and perhaps even identifying suitable keywords. However, when it comes to optimizing their pay per click campaigns, it all becomes foreign territory. That’s the time to call in a team of professionals who can manage your pay per click campaigns. The end result should be a significant increase in traffic and with it a significant increase in sales. More importantly, it should be cost effective and therefore also increase profits.

The problem then is selecting the most appropriate business to manage your pay per click  campaigns. Here is a guide that may help you determine the most appropriate people to help you:

Training – Will your campaign be led by a Google Certified Analyst? These are individuals trained specifically to deal with the intricacies of Google Adwords. Just as importantly, they have experience running these campaigns successfully.

Team – It’s a team and not just one person. If you employ one person, you are at their whims and human needs and fallibility’s. Holidays and illness means they may not be available when needed. And, yes, everyone is fallible – so this is where a team effort works best. There is always someone available when needed and teams tend to cross check each member’s work, thus reducing human error.

Communication – Can you easily communicate with someone from your team. With communication comes comfort – do you feel comfortable talking to them – sometimes, it’s a good idea to trust your gut reaction.

Contracts – Are you forced to sign on the dotted line for six or twelve months no matter what? Contracts should, where they exist, allow you an out after the first month. A management team is going to ensure everything runs smoothly if they know the renewal is on a month-to-month basis. A 12 month contract allows a lot of slack time and a poor performance to creep in.

Honesty – This is the hardest since I am not talking about fraud for, example. Is your management team honest in their discussions with you. If they feel the keywords are wrong, do they tell you, or do they plow on regardless – and then blame you for the poor choice of keywords? Being honest and upfront and telling it like it is can save you a lot of wasted time and money.

They are just a few areas that you should consider when looking to engage a pay per click management team. Get the right management team and your business will see a real surge in results. Get it wrong and you will see a steady flow of cash walking out the door – with nothing to show for it.

Big business turned to IT decades ago. They had the money to buy huge mainframes and to pay for the dedicated staff to manage them. What those mainframes could do in an hour often took dozens of workers to do in several hours. Small business has toyed with IT, some with a great deal of success, others with not so much success. It seems that small businesses are once again looking at IT as a means to cut operating costs. It’s interesting to note that Internet marketing is one of those driving forces.

According to SmallBusinessNewz:

nearly 36% of small businesses are investing in improved email marketing campaigns, 28% are looking at Google Adwords and 21% are looking at Facebook advertising.

They also report that 30% of small businesses are investing in “virtualization, business intelligence and collaboration“.  Business intelligence (or competitive intelligence) has been a primary motivator for many medium to large businesses where dedicated staff research competitors across the broad spectrum of the Internet – especially social media.

One of the driving forces into the future will be the introduction of smarter software that will deliver better analytics of social media activity. We are already seeing better analytics coming out of Facebook, other social media sites will not be far behind. One of the best indicators of how successful Internet Marketing is becoming is the fact that traditional marketing sources, print, television, and radio, are now crying poor and bemoaning drops in sales, viewers, and listeners.

Today, you can create a highly successful video ad for far less than the cost of a television ad. Where television charges tens of thousands of dollars for some 30 second ad spots, you can publish and promote a video of any length, almost for free, across the Internet. You may not get the same audience, but when you can produce 20 or 30 videos for the same cost as one television ad – savings are fairly obvious.

We are only touching the surface when it comes to cost cutting. Cloud computing is yet to make a huge impact yet the potential for savings could be huge for small businesses. Internet marketing is just one dimension, but its success will drive ventures into more cost cutting activities using IT and the Internet. The ride is going to be interesting.

The Internet is a dangerous place in more ways that one. We have all read stories of employers coming across disparaging remarks written by employees or employers using social media to check on potential employees. Reputation management has become an important issue for both businesses and individuals and the focus is not just on what others say. Your own words are just as important.

One of the worst aspects of the Internet has been the amount of online dishonesty perpetrated over the years. The result now is that people will often check Google or Facebook before making friends online. Trust has become the number one issue when doing business, and again, reputations are the key factor.

It does raise a number of questions. For example, if I did a search on your name, business, or brand right now, do you know what I would find? If not, then you have no idea how the online world is affecting your reputation. A second question – what are you doing to protect your reputation?

There are a number of ways in which you could manage your reputation. One method suggests filling the front page of the search engines with your data, often in the form of social media profiles. But then, what of social media? What is being said there? Reputation management starts at home and there are three key areas that you need to consider.

What you say – What you say online can and will be used against you. For example, if you condemn someone, or another product, you had better be right. If you are wrong, or if people consider your comment to be in poor taste, then your reputation is going to fall.  These days, you have to be careful about what you say in jest as well.

What you do – Customer service has once again become an important consideration – provide a good customer experience and they will return, often with their friends.

How you respond –  When individuals raise issues publicly, you need to be sensitive to the fact that the problem is in public. Others will, over time, see your responses. With that in mind, you need to be positive and need to be seen to be trying to resolve the issues in a friendly manner. If they get nasty while you remain positive and in resolution mode, your reputation should remain strong.

Reputation management focuses on what you do, what you say, and what others say. You can manage the first two while working to reduce the third.

One of the biggest mistakes that new business entrants make in the pay per click market is impatience. They build a site, then, often with the aid of a free $50 or more Adwords offer, start a pay per click campaign. Unfortunately, pay per click does not run like a normal newspaper classified ads. Each of the search engine pay per click markets publish ads based on a score given to each ad – Google, for example, calls theirs a quality score.

Some of the factors that go into a quality score include click through rates, page quality, ad relevance, geographic terms, and landing page load times. Each search engine has their own secret formula for determining this quality score. The exact formula for them determining an ad’s placement is not known, but it could be as simple as your bid value times your quality score.

With that formula in mind, you can see that a high quality score can outrank another ad, even though the bid price is lower.  There are other benefits to a high quality score including:

  • more clicks for the same budget
  • higher placement leading to a higher click through rate
  • lower costs for better quality keywords
  • better conversions

The last comes, not so much because of your quality score, but because of the work put into your site to gain that quality score. For example, creating a better, faster and more relevant landing page should lead to more conversions when compared to a click just landing on a home page.

For new business owners, it is far more prudent to wait a little longer, to develop a top quality landing page, and to then use any free offers to test out a small range of keywords. If they attract clicks and conversions, you will be on the road to earning an income which you can then use to extend your campaign. Use the approach I outlined in the first paragraph, and you will find your free offer gone with little or no conversions and probably a bad taste in the mouth over pay per click.

When it comes to marketing, every option is fair game. Facebook has become a popular social media marketing option for many businesses. Twitter, on the other hand, has not proven to be as successful for many businesses. With only 8% of US population using Twitter, there isn’t a huge market to begin with, especially if many of those users are also using Facebook. So has Twitter been overrated by many in the marketing world?

Frank Reed on Marketing Pilgrim had a few interesting things to say about Twitter following their release of the Top 10 Trends on Twitter 2010. I have to agree the list is quite uninspiring. But then, on second thought, it is a list of what inspired Twitter users in 2010. This then leads to that question as to whether or not Twitter has become overrated as a marketing channel.

The flip side is, when it comes to social media marketing, perhaps we as marketers have lost the plot. Are we trying to force a square peg into a round hole? Twitter has always been primarily the online version of a mobile text message. A short and sweet commentary on what interests users right now. As a marketing channel, it is great to see what is trending right now. As a communication channel, it certainly has its limitations.

Frank Reed observed:

Twitter is getting pretty full if itself when it has the stones to call these results “most meaningful”.

I tend to disagree with him here.  To Twitter users, it is probably a list of what is ‘most meaningful’ in their lives. Just because it doesn’t fit into our marketing picture is really irrelevant since Twitter’s primary goal was never to be a marketing channel. As marketers, our role is to take what is topical today, and to try and use it to our advantage.

The only way you can change that list is to inspire others with your message so that it becomes one of the hot trending topics. But then, that is what every marketer aims for. Twitter is highly successful in some niches, not because it follows trends, but because it offers something of value to those who are interested in that niche.

Is Twitter overrated? Possibly! Have we lost the plot? To some degree, yes!  But then, has the marketing world really got a firm handle on how to use Twitter? Probably not! What are your thoughts?

Oh – and for the record, the top 10 Twitter topics for 2010?

  1. Gulf Oil Spill
  2. FIFA World Cup
  3. Inception
  4. Haiti Earthquake
  5. Vuvuzela
  6. Apple iPad
  7. Google Android
  8. Justin Bieber
  9. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows
  10. Pulpo Paul

Writing content can be a difficult job, particularly if you are trying to achieve a certain result. One of the mainstays of online marketing is baiting content so that it draws the reader onto your site, or further into your site.  The philosophy is quite simple: write content that is informative while not quite answering the user’s question.

In fact, it goes a little further than that. Onsite (and with email marketing), you close off almost all other forms of escape leaving the user little option apart from following the doors you have opened, or closing the page altogether. If your content is well written, the user will travel the path you have mapped, without even realizing it.

Off site, for example, article marketing or social media marketing, you don’t have the option of closing doors. This means your content must be good enough that it blinds the reader to anything else – until they reach the all-important link back to your website. Creating a constant steam of content that achieves this goal is quite an art form in itself.  If you can achieve it, then you will find that conversion from this material can be quite high.

Writers that can produce top quality material are in high demand. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t produce this material yourself. You can, with a little thought. The key is to write content that does answer the user’s question, then to edit it so that the full answer is missing but can be found by following a train of thought – and that is the link deeper into your website.

If you do bait your content, be sure there is an answer at the end of the line, and don’t make that line too long. If you do, your visitors will leave and never return. Provide some satisfaction, and your visitors will feel good about the experience and return for more. Baiting content has been a marketing ploy used for decades off line – it works just as well for internet marketing too.

The big growth area in online search in 2010 has been local search. Google has been the driving force with their Google Places feature. They are not alone, however, with both Yahoo! and Bing having their own versions. Consumers are turning to the Internet in greater numbers to do their research prior to going on a shopping trip, so this growth will continue to be strong in 2011.

While consumers are turning to local search for information, local businesses have been slow to respond. When they do, they frequently make small errors, which in turn undo the potential that claiming their business could deliver. And sometimes they are such simple mistakes. Some of these small errors include:

Inconsistency – The most important part of any local search optimization program is consistency. It is worth the effort of creating a file, either in notepad or a spreadsheet, and using this to record the information you are listing. Then it’s a simple matter of copying and pasting that information each time you register your business. Inconsistencies in business name, address, and telephone number may result in your business being listed in search multiple times – effectively a duplicate listing. This will damage your business’s ability to rank highly in local search.

Local means Local – If your business services a local community, then be local. Include local place names in links and landing pages. If you service more than one location, then create landing pages for each location. Be sure each page has your business name, address, and phone number, exactly as it appears in your listings.

Directories – Register your business in as many directories as possible. These are not your standard Web directories, rather business directories such as Citysearch, Yelp, and Yellowpages, to name a few. Of course, make sure the data in your listings matches the data you have recorded elsewhere.

Creating a data file can make life easier. It’s impossible, and probably unwise, to register your business everywhere in one session. It could take weeks to slowly seek out relevant directories, create landing pages, and claim your business through the various search engines. It only takes a minor change, for example, leaving out a shop number, or abbreviating a name, or not including an area code, and that listing could become irrelevant.

If there is one lesson to be learned from the last 12 months, it is that of consistency and ensuring you tell the world you are local. Local search engine optimization is becoming a skill all on its own.

Do you use tracking codes to identify the source of your traffic? If your internet marketing strategy involves a wide range of activities, then tracking codes will make it easier to assess which of those activities has been successful. The purpose of a tracking code is straightforward – rather than having a landing page for each marketing channel, each marketing channel has a special code added to the link, all leading to the same landing page.

Analytics have become an important tool for internet marketing. Being able to determine which strategies are delivering traffic and which strategies are actually converting can help management in their decision-making processes. Tracking codes have been around for a long time, and they are the simplest strategy available for measuring your campaigns.

To add a tracking code, simply add a forward slash, question mark, and a meaningful phrase to your inbound link  – for example, “http://yourdomain.com/landingpage/?facebook”  could be used for a link coming from a Facebook page. You can individualize all links by adding numbers, using the above example, /?facebook01. This will enable much closer tracking of each link.

Utilizing a tracking code like this means you can measure the effect of every link coming into your landing pages. You can move links around or change anchor text, each time changing the tracking code. This will let you test each variation to see which is more attractive to users.

Tracking codes are easy to include in your marketing strategy, including email marketing, many pay-per-click or banner advertising options, and through social media marketing.

There is one growth area that is hidden to most Internet users, and that is in the business-to-business (or B2B) world of trade. B2B online marketing is growing quickly, and with automated ordering and billing systems also becoming seamless and efficient, businesses are finding it easier and faster to do business over the Net.

The world has also become substantially smaller, with the result that businesses are now dealing with other businesses on the other side of the world. This is something many businesses would not even have considered 10 years ago. Online marketing for B2B trade is different to that involving business-to-consumer trade.  Social media marketing for B2B trade typically involves more niche-oriented sites such as LinkedIn.

Search engine optimization is also different. Rather than concentrating on terms that consumers use, B2B site owners should be concentrating on terms that their downlines are going to favor. Terminology that is more ‘in house’ is likely to be included in this list, terms that consumers are less likely to use. Normal keyword research won’t be of much use in this area –  you will need a set of tools that can dig much deeper.

One of the most valuable B2B marketing strategies is email marketing.  Care needs to be taken against spam since fellow business owners will not appreciate the waste of time involved. Email marketing that is judicious, and that contains information that will help your downline to success is always welcome. After all, they are in business to make a profit – the same as you. Business-to-business online marketing is a little different to many others forms of marketing.