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There are a lot of great websites that have been designed for businesses, yet many of them forget some of the simpler features that can make or break an online business. One of the simpler tasks you can do is create customized error pages. These are the pages that are shown to visitors whenever there is a problem with your site, or a problem with their search.

For potential customers, there is nothing more uninspiring than to land on a website only to see a “page not found” error, or worse, “server not found”. Think about those errors. A “server not found” error could mean you no longer exist so the visitor will look elsewhere. “Page not found” errors shouldn’t happen. This generally means the visitor has followed a link that arrives on a page that no longer exists. Either that, or the link is badly formed in the first place.

Customized error pages can actually help your visitors.  When customizing, a friendly message that states the page is not available at that time while suggesting alternatives can help direct traffic further into your site. You can also place a search box prominently so the visitor can search your site for content they are looking for.

Traffic is hard to get at the best of times. The last thing you need is to waste any traffic because it is arriving on dead pages. What you should also bear in mind is that if that visitor happens to be one of the search bots, and they cannot find your site, or your pages, then this can have an effect on your position in the search results. There are many website owners who have complained bitterly about being dropped from the front page of the search results, simply because their server was out of action. From the search engine’s perspective, your page could not be found so why include it in search results?

If you are having your website professionally designed, be sure to insist on customized error pages. They can save a lot of hassles.

If you were to lift a website from ten years ago and dump it into today’s internet world, it wouldn’t cut it. Business websites of today can be complicated beasts, or at least, they may seem that way. However, a closer inspection will reveal that their anatomy is actually quite simple.

Today’s business website needs to address several factors. Get the design and mix right, and your website will be the least of your worries. So what factors does a modern website need?

Optimized for search – it goes without saying that search is still the number one source of traffic for most websites – this includes both organic, paid, and local search.

Optimized for social – optimizing for social involves a few simple modifications to a standard website. Social buttons are the first factor to consider. Allowing comments or user feedback should also be considered.

Optimized for the user - uncluttered pages, clear call-to-action triggers, easy to follow navigation, and the ability to communicate with you, the business owner, are all important user functions.

Optimized for the Internet
– today’s websites need to be slick, fast, easy to follow, and fairly straightforward. Shopping baskets and checkouts need to be smooth processes that are not complicated by over form filling or confusing processes. Today’s website needs to be streamlined in the way it processes users and their data.

Optimized for information – what is the Internet all about? Information and communication. We have communication covered so all that is left is information, and for a website, that boils down to content. Relevant, unique, up-to-date, easy to read, and of value to users – content is what drives websites and its content that attracts visitors.

Does that sound too simplistic? Perhaps you are trying to over complicate what should be a straight out process. The hardest task in building a website to satisfy everything on that list is the seamless integration of each component. If your web design team can get that right, you website is ready to do business.

Local search is not quite the same as organic search. Where for many years the preferred anchor text in links has been keyword orientated, local search is less keyword-based and more business or website name orientated. For local search, a link with your business name is often of more value than a link with a related keyword. In fact, there are many stories around suggesting that keywords in links are no longer the ideal – but that’s a story for another time.

When you think about local search, you have a distinct advantage over organic search. You can tell the search engines all about your business. In Google Places, for example, you can provide your official business name, your address, and your telephone number. You can also add tags and place your business into a category. With organic search, your search engine optimization program needs to use keywords to ensure the search engines know what your pages are all about.

The bottom line is this: Search engines don’t need anchor text to tell them about your business – you’ve already done that. Links that are in your business name have far more value than those with keywords as your anchor text. Add address details to the text around your business name, and you further reinforce your local search rankings. Local search is all about being local.

The more often your business is linked back to your site where your address is in plain view, or at the very least your town or region, the better. Are you pushing keywords in all your anchor text for local search? Try modifying some of your links to include your business and your town – or the service you provide and the town.

Local search is all about being local so shout your presence from the rooftops – or at least, from the friendly pages around you.

A news release from Google caught my attention today and it reignited a train of thought related to niche search engines. In the past, real estate agents were able to upload home listings to Google Maps. From February, that service will disappear because Google are doing away with the Google Base API.  One of the reasons that Google provided for no longer supporting real estate included this little gem:

….due to low usage, the proliferation of excellent property-search tools on real estate websites…..

That one sentence tells us two things – first, users were not using Google to search for real estate, and second, that Google acknowledges that property search engines are doing a good job.   And they are. Worldwide, almost every country has a niche real estate search engine that has been set up by the real estate industry.

Real estate is not the only industry, although they are one of the most successful. Motor vehicles and travel have also been successful at setting up their own niche-based search engines. In fact, think of a niche and there is bound to be a dedicated search engine. The question is this: Can these search engines help your business? In short, the answer is yes – most definitely.

Niche-based search engines are often less competitive than mainstream search so optimizing your website can be a little easier. They also have the added benefit of dedicated traffic. If someone visits a real estate search engine, you can bet they are looking for real estate. In most cases, they are also looking to buy. Traffic from niche related search engines are more likely to convert into sales because of these factors.

At present, apart from a small number of very popular niches, niche search engines aren’t as popular as mainstream search. That will change as they prove their worth, and that will be a real bonus for businesses everywhere.

Managing your own website can be difficult when faced with issues such as time limitations, and perhaps even a lack of advanced skills. In these situations, website owners often try to take shortcuts. One of those shortcuts involves the optimization of web pages for search.

It can be an easy escape to simply optimize the home page and perhaps one or two landing pages, after all, that is where you want your traffic coming in – hence the term ‘landing pages’. That approach makes the assumption that the only traffic you want is from buyers – if you’re in business, then that makes sense.

The approach can be misguided. First, while your landing pages are optimized for search, your customers are not. They tend to use a wide range of search phrases, and no matter how well optimized your landing pages are, they cannot hope to cover every single search term. Your secondary pages, on the other hand, can be optimized for a wide range of search terms – in fact, the more pages, the more search phrases covered.

Taking short cuts when optimizing your website means you are short changing yourself when it comes to traffic. Every visitor that lands on one of your pages is a potential customer, no matter which page they actually arrive on. The more pages you have indexed and ranking well in search, the more traffic you are likely to receive.

Search engine optimization is a process that takes into account each page – it also takes into account your web site as a whole. Rather than taking shortcuts, spend some time optimizing every page. Over time, you will experience more traffic coming into your website, and a higher sales turnover to match.

A post on Search Engine Journal highlights some of the problems that face businesses when it comes to pay per click marketing. There are several good points made in the post, particularly when it comes to who you hire to manage your pay per click marketing campaigns. The difficulty faced by management is that pay per click is so foreign to them, but they have trouble understanding some of the analytics presented to them.

The management of pay per click marketing should be seen as a professional service. Managers often know little of accounting or legal matters, so they hire professionals to look after those areas of their business. The Internet should be seen in the same light. When hiring a professional organization to manage any of your online activities, you should apply the same due diligence you would show to an accounting or legal firm.

One of the points the post on Search Engine Journal highlighted was that of basic dishonesty - to quote from the post:

Many businesses larger and small don’t ask enough questions from their paid search person/company. Many companies hide what your CPC and CPA is and therefore you will never really know if your PPC is cost effective.

I tend to take issue with the first sentence in that it assumes that most paid search companies aren’t professional. How closely do you quiz your accountant, attorney, or any other professional service provider? That’s not to say you shouldn’t quiz them at times, especially when it comes to determining budgets and the effectiveness of the campaigns. It does come back to due diligence and ensuring you hire experienced and well recognized pay per click management companies.

The one area where we are in total agreement with the Search Engine Journal post is that paid search, when done correctly, can increase sales markedly. When an email marketing campaign is used to follow up sales, repeat business tends to be driven to greater heights. Paid search can be profitable; just be sure the people who are controlling your paid search are professional, experienced, and well respected in the industry.

Gone are the days where you could just copy what had been working for other online businesses.  The Internet has become quite complex when it comes to maintaining a successful business so each business generally requires a unique approach. This has become particularly important when it comes to Internet marketing.

Five years ago, Internet marketing consisted of search, advertising, and small social media sites such as forums. Today, social media has exploded with Facebook becoming more complex everyday. Some businesses do well with sites such as Twitter while others are finding that forming partnerships with the old-fashioned forums and niche blogs have delivered better results.

The question facing new businesses is where to start, which social media site is going to deliver the best results, and how search will fit into their marketing plans, both now and into the future. If you’re serious about your business, and you are looking for success, then the only approach that is going to work is to have a customized Internet marketing strategy developed for you. Better yet, if you want to stay on top of your niche, is to have that customized Internet marketing strategy developed and managed for you.

Professional Internet marketing strategist are in a position to measure every aspect of your online presence, and then tweak various components in order to gain the most leverage from the traffic coming into your site. A professional marketing strategists can take the traffic you are now generating and increase sales or conversions by several degrees.

If you think this approach is going to be too expensive for your business, then perhaps it’s time to think again. Current trends are showing that customized and managed Internet marketing strategies are delivering a positive return on investment that far exceeds what doing it yourself would achieve. The return on investment is such that businesses can grow at a steady rate with increased turnover and profits generated. Can you really afford to continue without a customized Internet marketing strategy?

They say that first impressions count, and when it comes to website design, it certainly holds true. In fact, since Google’s introduction of the web page preview option in search results, website design has probably become more important. The general theory is that you have less than 30 seconds to convince a visitor to stay on your site – that’s probably down to five seconds when it comes to Google Preview.

A quick check of your website stats will tell you how long traffic is staying on your site. If a high number of visitors stay for less than 30 seconds, and they don’t click through to other pages, then you need to start thinking about why – is it your website design that is at fault? There are a number of issues that you should be analyzing. These include:

  • Overall look - does your website look too busy? One of the biggest issues that users complain about is how busy a site looks. From a user’s perspective, they just don’t know where to start.
  • Navigation – is your navigation easy to understand and in plain site, or is it hidden towards the bottom of the page?
  • Content - visitors come to your website because they are looking for something. Is it there in plain site, or is it hidden in amongst a myriad of ads?
  • Advertising - speaking of ads, are visitors blown away by the number of ads that hit them, especially in the ‘above the fold’ section of your website?
  • Friendly – how friendly is your website? Does is welcome your visitor and encourage them to stay awhile? Color, graphics, and issues like font size all play a role in making your visitor feel at ease.

While it may seem to be easier and cheaper to create your own website, the reality is often the opposite. If your website is not up to scratch, then it could be costing you money. While a professional website design team may seem costly initially, over time their work will repay you many times over. You’ve got 30 seconds to convince your visitor to stay – does your website achieve that?

It can be frustrating managing a business with an online presence. You have a good website, easy navigation, top quality content, and your products and services more than competitive – yet you struggle to gain that front page listing in search results. Before throwing the towel in and looking at alternatives, a little competitive intelligence may alter the picture completely.

The factors that are going in to determining search rankings are always in flux. Some factors only need time, for example, inbound links. It is also important to understand that search rankings are so flexible that two different people entering the same search may see different results. Google is one search engine that also takes into account the surfing/searching history of the user.

Competitive intelligence can give you a snapshot of where your competitors are today. You can use this data to plot their progress over time compared to yours. Often, you will find that your competitors are only progressing slowly, if at all, while you are moving ahead at a faster rate.

This leaves you with two options, to either work a little harder at improving those ranking factors, or to let time deliver the fruit of your previous efforts. Competitive intelligence is never a one off factor. By continuously monitoring your competitors, you will gain a real insight into how far they really are ahead of you. A word to the wise, however: Don’t forget to look behind at those who may be trying to sneak their way past you. Remember, your competitors are not just those who appear in front of you; there are just as many following on behind you.

Local search has been a big help to smaller local businesses over the last year or so. They have been able to out-compete their larger rivals simply because the scale of size actually works for them rather than against them when compared to traditional marketing. However, those factors that are working for small businesses may also be working against other small businesses.

Mobile businesses that service an area that exceeds Google’s 50-mile radius can be at a real disadvantage. In today’s economic climate, small one person businesses that operate out of the back of a vehicle will often think nothing of traveling 100 miles to complete a job. Consider photographers, particularly wedding photographers – they travel to wherever their services are required.

The problem with local search is that Google, for example, has that strict 50-mile radius as a limitation to appearing in local search results. That 50 miles is measured from your business’ official address, not from the center of your town. If you want to appear in local search for neighboring towns, you will need to establish a physical presence in that town – an option that is not always viable.

While some businesses are trying to get around this by using fake addresses, Google is slowly weeding these businesses out of its local search results, even if they are legitimately servicing those areas. Google is aware of this problem, since it’s been raised on numerous occasions. However, even they have no recommendations to fix the problem, except for creating a physical presence in each location.

We do have to be fair to Google in this case, however. They are trying to provide users with the most relevant search results possible. Local search is just that – local. So for an out of town business to appear in those results, they would also need to convince locals that they do service that area.

Local search is great for local businesses. It certainly levels the playing field and may even give smaller businesses a real edge of national competitors. You do need to be aware of the limitations and how they may affect your business.

Todd Mintz on Search Engine Journal has an interesting post on whether or not it’s okay to break Google’s rules when it comes to optimizing your website for search. I am sure that over time it will cause a little stir in the search industry, especially with his conclusion advocating this practice. In his words:

Because Google’s guidelines do not have the force of law, how you manage your site and its tactics doesn’t involve ethical decisions (so long as you aren’t violating any laws) but business decisions. You should employ any and all tactics that can and will increase your revenue irrespective of Google’s guidelines.

To a certain extent, he is right. It is your business, and Google’s rules are not laws that you ‘must’ abide by. If a certain practice is good for your business, even though Google frowns on it, then it probably makes good sense to proceed with it. However, you do have to balance the possible effects of a Google search penalty – how much harm will that do to your business?

There is no doubt that Google is inconsistent when it comes to sites breaking the rules. What is dangerous about Google’s inconsistency is the way they apply these rules. Every now and then Google goes on a spree penalizing sites left, right and center for a particular group of breaches. Twelve months or two years later, they pick another group of rules to target. The last big target was paid links, and that caused a real storm.

We are probably overdue for Google to target a different set of rules to ensure they are being followed. By breaking those rules, you could be setting yourself up for a future penalty. Ultimately, it’s your business and your website. If you want to bend, twist, or even outright break some of Google’s rules, that’s your decision. Do your research first to see if other sites are also freely bending or breaking those rules. Better yet, do everything possible within the guidelines, then only bend the rules if you really need to.

They say that loose lips sink ships; at least, they did back in WWII. Those words still ring true today, except the ships are businesses. It’s the loose lips that haven’t changed. Internet marketing covers a wide range of activities including search and social. It’s amazing how one loose word in the wrong place can come back to bite you down the track.

Badmouthing someone, either while engaged in a social media conversation, via a blog’s comments, or even privately through e-mail, never actually gets you anywhere, no matter how angry they have made you. Being able to control your emotions and respond courteously yet with authority with help you to maintain (if not build) your reputation while still allowing you to promote your product or service.

Humans are a fickle lot. We read a comment and we instantly take it personally. Often, it’s not true. If a comment is true, you need to be able to depersonalize it, and to put it into perspective. Why has that person made that comment? Rather than responding with angry outbursts yourself, remain professional.

Internet marketing is all about promoting your business, your products, and your brand. Reputation management is all about protecting your business, product, or brand. Between the two, there is no room at all for personal feelings, in particular, personal grudges. If someone bad mouths you, your business, product, or brand, take it as a potential marketing or reputation-building opportunity.

Loose lips will sink businesses. Leave your emotions at home and put on a professional face that is ready to handle everything that the online world is prepared to throw at you.

I am often intrigued at the lack of foresight shown by some online entrepreneurs. If you visit their website or blog, you will find links to their social media presence standing out proudly (as they should). Visit each of those pages or profiles, and there’s hardly a mention of any of the other social presences. Social media optimization is just that – optimizing your social media presence – and that includes cross promoting.

So, why should you cross promote? Do you want your followers on Twitter also following you on Facebook, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, or any other social site where you have a presence? It may seem like you’re marketing to the same person twice, however, it is the social nature of these sites that is important to your social media marketing efforts.

People who follow you on Twitter are not necessarily going to have the same follows on Facebook, or any other social site. It is their friends and followers that you are also marketing too in the hope they will start to follow you, and perhaps become customers as well. By cross promoting, your friends and followers will most likely follow you on those other sites as well – and all with no effort from you.

Cross promoting your social media presence is a quick way to build your presence on a wide range of sites. The flow-on effect can be huge as friends of friends join you on one site then follow through to join you on a second or third site. The growth in your follower list can be quite viral – and all because you took those extra moments to cross promote your social media presence.

Most people have probably heard of the recent online phenomena surrounding Ted Williams. He was a homeless individual whom someone decided had a great voice. They made a short video and posted it to YouTube. From there, it went viral, and suddenly Ted Williams became one of the most popular men in the US – at least, for a short period of time.

Ted was flown around the country, interviewed by the best, including Dr Phil. He even had large sums of money thrown at him to do advertising voice overs. A true rags to riches story. Unfortunately, he was detained by police days later for being drunk and disturbing the peace. The problem was, much of his story centered on him being a reformed alcoholic. Now, he is yesterday’s news and no one want to know him.

It’s not our role to comment on the rights or wrongs of what happened to Ted Williams. Rather, it provides a very telling lesson on the difficulties of online reputation management. Consider how your business would have fared if a similar situation arose.

Rather than Ted Williams’ voice being the draw card, it was a video of your product in action. Everyone loves the video, the product looks great, and suddenly sales are booming. You have achieved every marketer’s dream, a viral marketing campaign.

But what happens if, a week or two later, someone posts a comment about how your product started a fire, or some similar catastrophic situation. Your reputation will suddenly go down hill, fast. Your video will sit unwanted, and your sales will drop altogether. Ted Williams, despite everything that has happened, still has that perfect on-air voice. Your product may be totally harmless, the fire or event being caused by misuse rather than poor quality.

The final result is still the same – like Ted Williams, the Internet skyrocketed your product to the starry heights – just as quickly, the Internet brought your product, and your business, back down to earth with a grinding thud. Online reputation management can be tough, especially in situations that involve viral campaigns.

There has always been a sad truth about marketers – they care little for ROI. This has always been the realm of managers, particularly finance managers. Their mantra is always – ‘how much will it cost and what sort of return will we get’? When it comes to marketers, they are always interested in how far and how well they have delivered their message.

Is there a meeting place? There should be. There is one startling fact that business managers and marketers should always have at the back of their minds – it is easier to sell to existing customers than it is to acquire new customers. So my question to you is simple – what are you doing with your existing customers?

For many businesses, a customer comes to their website, buys, and disappears, often never to be seen again. Online marketing has one special difference to offline marketing, a website is not in your face everyday. Offline, your store front is there. People walk past it everyday. A website is different. If your customer has not bookmarked your website, and can’t quite remember the URL, they will visit whichever website catches their eye the next time they want to purchase.

So I ask again. What are you doing with your existing customers? Are you capturing their email addresses for email marketing? Are you inviting them to follow you on any of the social media sites? If you are not maintaining contact with your existing customers, then perhaps your internet marketing strategy needs a review. Existing customers can be pure gold so if ROI is important to you, make sure you get the maximum return from every one of them.

SEO is not Internet marketing. In fact, SEO is just one link in what is an ever growing chain of Internet marketing options. There are some online businesses that are quite profitable, yet they have not done any ounce of search engine optimization, they have the other links to be profitable. So what are those other ‘links’ in the chain? Here are a handful of marketing options that should keep you occupied for a while.

Pay-per-click advertising. There are many businesses that prefer the targeted traffic that comes from PPC advertising. It can be easy to measure your ROI, and you have complete control of your spending.

Social Media Marketing. There are some niches that are more suited to social media marketing than others. Some businesses can survive by attracting customers through social media rather than search.

Email Marketing. Newsletters have long been a popular channel for marketers. Email marketing has proven to be highly successful for some online businesses, particularly those that are catalog-based.

Offline Marketing. Large corporations still use traditional offline marketing strategies. Online businesses are now finding that some of these channels are well suited for promoting their online businesses.

Blogs. Blogs are certainly not dead. In fact, blogs are becoming a favorite place for many that are researching products and brands before making decisions on where to spend their money. Blogs are also an excellent way for your online business to connect with the social side of the web.

Businesses, both online and offline, that can harness all of those links in the Internet marketing chain are going from strength to strength. That doesn’t mean you need to utilize all of them, but if you can determine which of those options are best suited to your niche, you can focus your attention on building your presence and building your business – to success.

Do you understand your website’s traffic metrics? Most websites have particular days of the week, and even hours of the day, when they are at their busiest. A quick look at your website’s stats will tell you which days of the week (and which hours of the day) are most popular. The question is, can you modify your marketing to either take advantage of traffic peaks, or better yet, to drive traffic during the quieter times?

Offline businesses have been doing it for centuries. Making special offers available early in the week when customer traffic is low. Some businesses have even been accused of raising prices during peak periods – gas for our cars is a good example. What about your website – can you do the same?

Many businesses care only about right now. You need to understand your target market first. If you are selling products that are aimed at moms, then you will see a distinct peak at certain times of the day, depending of course on your product. Tweeting a super special at other times of the day may increase your traffic marginally, but if moms just aren’t available then, that special offer will be lost. More importantly, you may upset some customers since they weren’t physically able to take up your offer.

Knowing your traffic highs and lows and knowing your target market’s online habits are important metrics that you may be able to use to better target your marketing. If you use pay-per-click advertising, then you can ensure your ads are only running when your customers are online.

When it comes to blog traffic, publishing blogs shortly before your traffic peak ensures your readers are receiving the very latest. Publish after your traffic peak and regular readers are seeing your content 20-24 hours after publication – that is not ideal if you are looking to start conversations. On topical matters, you could be seen to be publishing stale news.

Understand your traffic metrics and use them to help boost your internet marketing programs.

Google has made a number of minor tweaks to their Adwords pay-per-click advertising program. The aim is to increase clicks, thus driving more revenue to Google, while it is hoped it will also drive more revenue to advertisers. Whether or not it does is open to debate although one change, relating to site links for those that use them, should see improved CTR and with it improved sales.

Do you include site links in your Adwords campaign? It is certainly worth having a closer look if you don’t. Site links allow you add extra links to your Adwords ad unit – up to ten for a campaign. Google has, in the past, shown the top four links in any ad unit displayed. Google has now changed this and will automatically rotate these links based on historical performance. This is good news for website owners who have several pages they want to drive traffic to.

In other changes, Google will change the way that domain URLs are displayed. Over the next week Google will modify all ad units displayed in search results so that the domain URL is all in lower case. This is to match the way domain URLs are displayed in search results. According to Google:

In any given month, we experiment with hundreds of subtle variations of the Google search results page, testing everything from font sizes and colors to layouts and spacing, as well as dozens of other variables. Recently, we found that by standardizing the look of the URLs on the page, we were able to improve many of our user metrics, including ad clickthrough rates

I am not sure that a change in the display of URLs will make a huge difference in click through rates, but then, any improvement is bound to be welcome.

The final modification will be a welcome one for those who have drilled down to really fine tune their ads. Negative keywords, in other words keywords, or parts of keywords that your don’t want associated with your ads, had to be set campaign by campaign. Now you can create a set of negative keywords that can be used with multiple campaigns. That will make life a little easier for Adwords users.

Of course, there are many Adwords users that don’t use site links or negative keyword lists when they really should. This could be costing them a significant amount when it comes to wasted or lost clicks. If you don’t completely understand how to use them, then consider working with a team of pay-per-click management specialists to fine tune your Adwords campaign.

If there is one complaint that is often heard regarding social media marketing it is the lack of analytics and the inability for business to measure return on investment. This perception is not really true – you can measure the success or failure of a social media marketing campaign. I would go further and suggest that you can measure and compare different campaigns to determine which is the more effective.

The hardest part of any form of measurement is the collection of data. This is not as hard as it may seem. Your first step is to determine what data is important. You can measure any of the following social media outcomes to determine success or failure.

Social media views – You are able to measure how many people have viewed your page on Facebook, and how many times your video has been viewed in most of the video sites. You can also measure how many people are reading your blog.

Subscribers, followers and fans – You can measure the growth in subscriber numbers for your blog or newsletter, Twitter followers, and Facebook fans.

Social media sharing – How many times are your Tweets retweeted, your pages liked, or your blog pages Stumbled? Sharing is reported to be a factor used by search engines to determine authority.

Traffic – Your own web analytics should be able to tell you how much traffic is flowing from social media websites to your pages. This will tell you if your social media marketing campaign is being effective.

Conversions – The ultimate statistic is being able to measure how many conversions you are achieving that can be directly attributed to your social media marketing activity. Using tracking codes on your links can help you to measure this.

Return on investment does not have to be a monetary return. If you decide you need to achieve a certain number of subscribers to make newsletter marketing viable, then the success of any social media campaign will be measured by the final number of subscribers achieved. The monetary return will come at a later date and will depend on how many sales can be attributed to your newsletter.

What is important is that you can measure various components of a social media marketing campaign.

Are you chasing the impossible? When it comes to search engine optimization, many website owners are. They spend a lot of time, effort, and money chasing that number one ranking in the search results. Smart SEO is all about assessing your position and comparing it to your competition, then acting on what you can realistically achieve – the probables rather than chasing the improbables.

The number one ranking in search results is not a fixed rank. If you have Google’s Webmaster Tools tracking your website, you will find that your search rankings change, and frequently too. Search results now also take into account factors that are beyond the reach of search engine optimization – these factors include a user’s history. This means that, in some searches you are actually number one – or number twenty-one. You have no control.

If your analysis of your current positions suggests it would be hard work, time consuming, and perhaps costly to chase a higher search rank, then it’s time to change your strategy. You need to work on other factors such as your meta description, your landing pages, and perhaps even your social media marketing.

Your meta description may help you stand out from the crowd and so draw more clicks – even though you are only number two or three in the search results. Spending time on developing a good landing page may see you convert a higher rate of visitors – which would you prefer, more visitors or more sales? Social media marketing, of course, uses another channel to attract visitors.

Don’t chase the improbables – it can be a frustrating experience. Take a realistic approach and tackle what is achievable in the current environment. You’ll save time, money, and your sanity.