A new year is upon us, and new internet marketing opportunities are coming with it. Follow these 7 tips to stay up-to-speed in 2014:

  1. Market Smarter, Not Harder.

    There are now tons of ways to market your business online, but just because you can do them all doesn’t mean you should. Be smart and choose to be in the online places that your target market is.

    If you sell golf tours to people ages 55 and up, Tumblr and Instagram are not where you need to be. LinkedIn is more likely to be a good use of your time and internet marketing dollars in that case. Visit Quantcast.com to find out the user base demographics for popular social networking sites.

  2. Set a social advertising budget.

    As soon as there were enough television sets in homes, advertisers jumped on the opportunity to reach a huge new audience, and TV commercials became a way of life. Well, that moment is here for social media. Many businesses feel they shouldn’t have to pay for exposure on social networking sites, since such exposure used to be free. Well, television programming used to be free as well, but the days of picking up a signal on rabbit-ear TV sets are over, and so are the days of free social media exposure for businesses.

    If a company must pay to broadcast a television commercial to millions of people, then why should the same exposure be free on social networking sites? It shouldn’t be, and it isn’t anymore. Be realistic, get over it, and set a social advertising budget.

    What IS different between social advertising and television advertising is the cost: It is WAY more affordable to reach a million people via a social ad than a TV ad. Take advantage of this before that changes as well.

  3. Animal-proof your SEO.

    Google assigns “pet names” (pun intended) to their major algorithm updates, i.e. Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird. These big changes often devastate the rankings and search engine traffic for even big businesses like JC Penney, if they have been using SEO tactics or consultants that break Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Some SEO tactics, especially certain link-building tactics, that used to be okay with Google are not okay anymore. If your site is associated with any of these tactics, it will suffer at some point if it hasn’t already. 2014 will bring more animal-themed traffic destroyers, so be proactive and ensure that your SEO is up to par with the current Webmaster Guildelines.

  4. Don’t ignore Google Plus.

    I know, I know… “ghost town” comes to mind. And as far as social activity goes – yeah, maybe Google Plus is a ghost town in comparison to the likes of Facebook and Twitter. But last I checked Google was still the source of more than 5 billion searches per day and guess what? Google Plus IS Google! If you care about getting found in Google, then you need to care about Google Plus.

    Google continues to increase the amount of impact that Google Plus activity has on search results, so at the very least, set up your Google Plus Authorship and start building up your circles.

  5. Pay even MORE attention to Google Plus.

    Establishing Authorship and building up your circles is only the bare minimum for the amount of attention that needs to be paid to Google Plus. One of 2014’s SEO trends is going to be “author rank”. Now that a lot of people have caught on to the ranking benefits of Google Authorship, Google now needs a ranking system to apply within that big pool of verified authors.

    Matt Cutts of Google, a.k.a. “The Horse”Matt Cutts of Google, a.k.a. “The Horse”

    Straight from the horse’s mouth (I love referring to Matt Cutts as “the horse”): “It’s not just going to be about markup, it’s going to be about the quality of the authorship.” Exactly what factors Google is going to look at to determine the quality of an author is not yet known, but it’s probably pretty safe to assume that it’s going to include the quantity, quality, and relevancy of your connections, as well as the amount of Google Plus activity your articles receive (+1s, comments, and reshares).

  6. Upgrade your Google Maps listing to a Google Plus Business Page. (Yes, more Google Plus stuff.)

    If you don’t already have a Google Plus Business Page, then log into http://places.google.com and click on “Start Now” under “Google+ Page”. If you do already have one, and it was created as a “Local” page, then look for the opportunity to merge them (in the Google Places dashboard).

    In either case, you’ll want to fill out your business info 100% and then start posting status updates and soliciting reviews. This will help you get found on the first page of REGULAR Google searches (not just Google Plus searches) when someone performs a regionally-based search for your type of business.

  7. Define your “online sales funnel.”

    Not everyone is ready to become a customer, or even contact you, the moment they first land on your website. If “Contact Us” is the only call to action on your site, think again.

    Many businesses have an online sales cycle that requires multiple steps to convert a web visitor to a lead. Perhaps a first-time visitor who found your site via a blog post isn’t ready to contact you, but would be ready and willing to register to download a bigger piece of content, such as a whitepaper or PDF guide. Then some gentle email marketing can convince them to attend a webinar, where they have an opportunity to experience your company’s subject matter expertise to the point where they’re convinced that you can help them. That funnel, blog reader -> downloader, -> email subscriber -> webinar attendee -> lead/customer, is a lot longer than “Contact Us NOW!” but a heck of a lot more effective.

Need Further Internet Marketing Help?

If you need help defining your online sales funnel and implementing an internet marketing plan to increase business in 2014, consider the highly recommended Web Traffic Controller course, which starts January 9th, and has been referred to as a internet marketing “game changer.”