Where to Start

Stone Interactive Group

April 19, 2017

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Where To Start

A successful online marketing effort starts with identifying goals, examining expectations, and organizing a few foundational tools you'll want to have at your disposal.

Goals are good and lofty goals can be even better. They keep us motivated. They push us. And, often, we will never achieve significant results without having aggressive goals. But the higher our goals are set, the more time, effort, and potentially budget will be required to hit them.

Interested in doubling website traffic? Tripling website lead flow? Would a quarterly email outreach to current customers help drive incremental or repeat sales? Each of these goals is achievable.

Goals should be quantifiable, trackable, and within the realm of reason. We won't outrank Zappos for shoes but we can get creative and identify many ways to improve our site visibility.

Writing these goals down somewhere visible and reading them at least once per week will help keep them real, relevant, and top-of-mind.

Online marketing goals are reached one step at a time. Website traffic will likely increase 5% before 10%. It will increase 20% before it does 50%. Don't get discouraged if results take a bit of time. Continual improvement is the key and should be the focus.

Between the status quo and your goal sits a metaphorical hill. For some goals that hill is steep. For other goals that hill is easily crossed.

What makes such a hill steep? There are three primary factors.

Competition - The number of competitors and the quality of their web marketing efforts have a direct effect on your results.

Desired Visibility - The phrases you'd like to be found for affect that incline. General search phrases and visibility across a wide geography will take more effort than specific phrasing and geo-specific efforts. For example, achieving excellent rankings for "native plant seed in Michigan" is a much easier task than simply "plant seed". The good news is that - most often - we truly only want traffic resulting from specific phrasing. More on this soon.

Starting Point - If a website is poorly optimized or poorly designed, then basic improvements will most likely yield significant progress toward your goals. When a site is already highly optimized and well designed, the low hanging fruit has been picked. More sophisticated strategies and offsite marketing efforts will be required to improve results.

For each piece of this online marketing plan, we will provide guidance on how to access the competition, desired visibility, and starting point. To start, though, take an honest inventory of which competitive sites you'd like to analyze, emulate, and eventually surpass.

There are a few building block tools that you'll need to be familiar with to have online marketing success. They are mostly free, well-supported, and relatively easy to use.

Google Webmaster Tools is your control panel into your website's health in the eyes of Google. Via this tool, you can ensure your site is indexed, address any Google errors, understand how Google is interpreting your site, and manage your link profile in some important ways.

Google Analytics is the de facto standard for website analytics. It is imperative that you have Google Analytics tracking code on your site, allowing you to gain a world of insight into your site's traffic and usage patterns.

Keyword Analyzer software can provide a wide range of useful info such as: how often a key phrase is searched for, how difficult it is to rank for a search phrase, as well as listing complementary words and phrases to consider. One such high quality tool is KWFinder.

It's well worth an hour or two to familiarize yourself with these foundational tools as they will play an important role at every turn.

Local Search is an increasingly important piece to the online marketing puzzle and we'll dig into that exciting topic in our next post.

Stone Interactive Group is a web design and online marketing company based in Ann Arbor Michigan. For more information please feel free to visit our site at http://www.stoneig.com.

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