Ongoing Internet Marketing

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ONGOING INTERNET MARKETING

Some may say that the road to achieving your ultimate goals for success and profitability begins with having an e-business. Your future Internet prosperity, however, depends on your ability to market that e-business through online and traditional marketing methods.

Cyber space is a very crowded place. Currently, there are nearly 250 million Internet users and millions of websites. As such, the challenge every e-business must face is finding a way to stand apart from the crowd.

There are two main tactics to utilize in making your e-business more visible to potential customers: e-marketing and traditional marketing. To be successful, you must use both tactics in your e-business. In this article we will focus only on the e-marketing component of your online marketing plan.

E-marketing refers to any digitalized marketing activity. This means the entire process of marketing your services is done exclusively through electronics. There are a few kinds of e-marketing methods, and each type fulfills a different function in your overall e-marketing campaign.

WEB SITE OPTIMIZATION

Web site optimization refers to the structure and content of your Web site. Preferably, you should fulfill this function while you are constructing your site. If necessary, however, it can be incorporated after your site is constructed.

Web site optimization includes the insertion of keywords and meta tags. Keywords are the words most likely used by your customers when they search for the product or service you provide. It is critical to remember that keywords are not what you, as a business owner, assume your customers are using, but rather what your customers are using when entering keywords in the search engine. The only way to find these keywords is to purchase special software that searches the Web. This software will find and list keywords people use when they search for your type of online service.

Once you have obtained a list of keywords for your product or service, incorporate them into the text of your Web site. Remember that search engines and directories don't read images. Therefore, your keywords must appear in a textual format.

Another form of Web site optimization is the use of meta tags. These phrases reside in the back-end of your Web site (where they are invisible to the user), and include short descriptions and sentences with the most-used keywords for your product or service.

Here, again, it is better to insert your meta tags while constructing your Web site—although like keywords, they can be added after the construction of your site. But be aware of the disadvantage: Every time you make a change in your keywords or meta tags, you need to resubmit your site to search engines and directories.

SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)

SEO is fairly complex and time-consuming process. Generally speaking, most people looking for a product or service on the Internet use a search engine or directory to find information. The main difference between search engines such as Google and directories like Yahoo! is that search engines find and rank web-sites using special software (sometimes called "spiders"), and any Web site can register. With directories, Web sites are reviewed and evaluated by personnel, and they make the decision which site to include in their listing.

The basic rule of SEO is that if the search engine doesn't list your site in the first ten positions, your chances of being "discovered" are minimal. In other words, most people will only see the first page of links output by the search engine (the first ten listings).

Most search engines and directories have two sections in their first-page listings: the paid or sponsored customers (usually the first three listings); and Web sites that scored the highest in terms of matching the keywords and meta tags you incorporated into your site.

To be in the first three listings, you need to buy your way in, which usually costs quite a bit of money. Search engines and directories use different methods for generating revenues from top positioning. One method is to "sell" words. For example, if you are in the business of selling sunglasses on the Web, you can "buy" the word "sunglasses." As a result, anyone who enters "sunglasses" in their search will see your Web site listed first. Typically, you can buy a keyword for a period of three to six months.

Another way to buy into the top three listings is to bid for words—often sites allow you to bid for keywords. In this method, you bid a certain amount of money for each word, and every time a visitor uses that word, your Web site will appear in the top three positions. Once the visitor clicks on your site's hyper-link, you're charged the amount you bid. For example, if you bid $1.00 for the word "sunglasses," you will be charged $1.00 every time someone uses the word to link to your Web site (you must open an account with the search engine first).

FURTHER READING

"Ad Model Not Dead, Just Evolving for Online Information Providers." Electronic Information Report, February 23, 2001.

"Online Advertising: It's Just the Beginning." BusinessWeek Online, July 12, 2001. Available from http://www.businessweek.com.

Webmama. "Tactics for Optimal Search Engine Positioning," 2001. Available at www.webmama.com.

WizBizWeb, LLC. "The ABC's of E-Strategy," 2002. Available by request from www.wizbizweb.com.