With the New Year already here, many are taking the time to assess their marketing efforts throughout 2008, if they haven’t already, and are establishing where to focus their energy in 2009. As this is a time of preparation and planning, I want to offer a few things that should be considered as part of any Internet marketing strategy.
Understand your site’s traffic and visitor behavior. It is important to have good rankings from a visibility perspective, but it is even more important to know how visitors are behaving once they arrive at your website. Are they finding the information that they need? Are they accomplishing what you want them to accomplish? In other words, are they converting? All of this information can be revealed through an analytics program such as Google Analytics. This year I recommend shifting away from viewing rankings as a primary means of progress and focusing more toward the actual site traffic and conversions. Changes or adjustments to the site should be made based on your analytics data and overall site performance.
As we all know, comparing data and measuring results is important. With Pay Per Click initiatives it is easy to compare and evaluate performance over a relatively short period of time, but due to the nature of the search engines, many search engine optimization (SEO) efforts should be evaluated after months have passed. Also, take into consideration any seasonal changes. If your business is seasonal in nature, compare your data against the same time during the previous year to have a clearer indication of progress.
With the introduction of new features such as Google’s personalized search and even more recently Google’s SearchWiki, it is important to understand that while everyone wants to be number one for their most important keywords, this may not be a realistic goal. Personalized search tailors search results to the searcher based on their web history. SearchWiki enables searchers to make comments on search results and modify the results to their liking. These are just two examples. Search engine optimization is still valuable despite these changes. Now it just has to be approached in a somewhat different manner.
There has been a tremendous growth in various social media channels. If SEO is part of your marketing strategy (as it should be), consider the other ways that visitors could find your website and treat all of these as marketing opportunities. With social media sites continuing to grow in popularity (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and photo-sharing sites for example), try to leverage these channels to further promote your business and website. The goal should be to maximize your site’s reach across many of the top listings. By doing so, you are making the most of the valuable real estate on the search results page by promoting your website through various channels.
As 2009 unfolds, I wish you the best of luck with all of your Internet Marketing initiatives!