Part 8 of 9 : Search Engine Pay Per Click Services

Search Engine Optimization often works for a keyword or group of keywords that are closely related.  There may be, however, a whole category of words and phrases that your site doesn’t appear under when searched.  Remember that it is tough to be all things to all people.  You will inevitably have to decide on the most important words and phrases for SEO purposes and abandon many in favor of creating a page that displays high on certain search words.  That’s where pay per click services offered by most search engines come in.

Site owners can setup an account that allows you to specify certain keywords to display a link to your site when searched.  If a person clicks on your link and goes to your page, you agree to pay the specified amount.  Clearly this can add up fast.  Often clicks cost between $0.10 and $1.00 depending on the popularity.  You are, however, allowed to specify a budget in most cases.  Monthly charges can be as little as $30 on major search engines like Google.

In addition to displaying your ad when someone searches, sites like Google also sponsor ads right on privately operated web sites.  You can display an ad for your site on a web site that has related content.  When someone clicks on your advertisement, a portion of the click cost goes to Google.  A portion also goes to the site where the ad was shown.

Google and other search sites have (like Facebook) done a good job of displaying relevant advertising to perspective clients.  They also provide methods by which to track the clicks that actually purchase or take some action on your site.  So, you can more accurately evaluate what methods and sites are providing useful leads for you and adjust your advertising campaign accordingly.

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Part 6 of 9 : Social Media

The jury on the social media sites as a marketing tool is still up in the air.  Although I did talk about how well facebook allows you to target very specific demographics, when I refer to social media, I mean opening a ‘fan’ page and trying to get sales and exposure through it.  I am not talking about paying the social media network for exposure.

Although it is fun to post all of your newest creations, products or updates on what you are doing, I have found that few (if any) people that stop by my online shop care enough to like my page on facebook.  In addition, I have also found that very few of my followers on facebook take action when new items are posted for sale in the shop.

This may have to do with the fact that some people seem to ‘like’ just about anything on social media, it may stem from sites like facebook starting to filter the information that is presented to you based upon what you seem to have clicked on in the past and tossing the remainder away, or it could simply be that when asked, people will choose to like your page, but, aren’t really all that interested in the end.

For all the marketing I have done for my shop (which has a link to the facebook page) I can track 90% of the people who ‘like’ my shop back to less than 5 of my friends who encouraged them all to join.

Admittedly, I may not completely understand what to place on my social media page and therefore not be taking full advantage of it.  So, I reserve the right to change my opinion of social media and the benefits of having a business page.

Part 5 of 9 : Relentless Self Promotion

This method of advertising your site, I have found, is one of the cheapest and most effective, yet, extremely time consuming and you may not make friends with the sites you use to spread the word.

The world of the internet has many, many, many sites, blogs, message boards, social media sites and more.  Those sites have people viewing topics, posting and otherwise browsing.  If those people came across a comment, a blog, a posting or any mention of your web page, there is a chance that they may be compelled to visit.  If they like what they see, maybe they will turn into a customer.  So, if you continually contribute (by posting or commenting) to any of these sites that pertain (even remotely) to your business, it is likely that someone will eventually stop by and use your site.

As I mentioned, there are a couple of pitfalls to doing this.  The first one is that it takes a heroic effort (time wise) on your part to advertise this way.  I would estimate at least 4-5 hours per day just perusing blogs or message boards so that you can contribute something meaningful to the discussion and work in exposure to your web site.  The exposure part is the second pitfall.

Many site operators, bloggers, message forum moderators, etc., don’t like to see posts specifically designed to advertise a web site.  In fact, in most cases if you do something like that, the post will be deleted and your access to that place will be removed.  As mentioned, you will need to work your site name and URL into the conversation in a backhanded way that actually contributes to the conversation.  Including it in your signature (at the end of a post) or referencing it as part of the conversation (while on topic) are both great ways to insure that your web site appears to other people.  I would be very careful about including it in every post you make (if not in your signature file).

This method worked very well in the early days of the internet.  It has lost some of its effectiveness now because moderators have gotten wise to people hawking their site in the middle of their message forums.  People who come to the site to read postings don’t want to be accosted by ads every other message.  Please keep that in mind when trying to perfect this method of advertising your site.

Part 4 of 9 : Banner Exchange Networks

Banner exchange networks are networks of sites that display member site banners in exchange for having their banner displayed on other member sites.  These ‘networks’ are basically sites that say, ‘I will show yours if you show mine’.

Although these networks are typically free, they usually have ratios of 2:1 or worse.  That means that you have to show two banners on your site for every one of yours shown on another site.  That really isn’t all that big of a problem as long as you have traffic coming to your site.  If you don’t have any significant visits to your site, you aren’t going to save up enough credit to get your ads displayed on other sites.

It is difficult to track actions through these networks.  Often times site owners would have a difficult time ascertaining if they are getting any sales or action through banner exchange networks.  Although the network stats will tell you how many ‘clicks’ there were on your banner and how many times it was displayed on the network, many of these exchange networks won’t specifically allow you to target a group of sites that perform well for you.  They also won’t tell you which sites those are.  A lot of that is probably due to the fact that they are free.  You get what you pay for.

All in all banner exchange networks are a way to toss some advertising for your site out on the internet, but, don’t expect too much activity in return.  Plus, your site will then need to be cluttered up with advertisements.  Those advertisements often look and feel cheap.

Part 2 of 9 : Target Audience

The most important thing when spending time or money on advertising your site is that you know who you want to advertise to.  Are you looking to reach women aged 18-35?  Are you trying to market to kids, aged 8-14?  Do you want to show ads to people who live in Atlanta, GA, own a home and make more than $100,000 per year?  The more specific you can be about your target audience, the more bang you can get for your advertising dollar (or your time).

So, the question is, how do you know who you want to reach?  There is no simple answer.  Much of the time you can get an idea by who has purchased things in the past, who stops by your booth at a craft fair or who you feel would benefit most from your product, page or service.  In addition, you can do research or even take survey’s.

Let’s say you are running a web site that evaluates restaurants in your area, posts a menu, reviews and offers a phone number or makes online reservations.  You are going to want to reach people that eat out.  That would likely mean fairly affluent individuals.  You also wouldn’t want to waste time with children as they don’t typically make buying decisions on what restaurant you are going to go to.  In doing some research, you find that 72% of the dining decisions are made by the female of the family.  So, now you can reduce the size of your target audience further.

Once you have determined what segment of a population you wish to reach, you can start to shop for places to advertise online.

Internet Advertising Part 1 of 9 : Introduction

Today begins a nine part blogricle (my own creation for a multi-part article posted on a blog) focusing on Internet Advertising.  After writing my article on Etsy vs. Artfire, I realized that there was a very large part of running a successful web site that I had really not touched on.  That is Internet Advertising.

When I say internet advertising, I am actually not talking about getting your products or site to pop up in a search on Etsy or a search on Artfire.  I am talking about getting your shop or site to popup when someone types ‘gold ring’ into Google.  I am also talking about showing a banner on someone’s site.  Basically, when I think of ‘internet advertising’ I think about driving someone to your shop or site who doesn’t know you exist and is just browsing the internet or doing a search for something they are looking for.

First, let me qualify my experience.  I opened a web site in 2001.  The site is a subscription site (basically people who like it and want to stay must pay a subscription fee to belong).  It is still open today.  In addition, I have a BBA in marketing, granted that was long before this ‘internet’ thing was around, however, many of the underlying concepts apply.  In 2010 I decided to start Berkshire Bowls.  This was a departure of sorts for me because I was selling a product rather than a service as I was with my first venture.

I have been marketing my site(s) for 10+ years with the least amount of expenditure.  Over that time I have found a number of outlets that have provided various levels of success.

I have always been willing to try something out that doesn’t sound like a total scam and just a way to get my contact information or other vital data.  So, there are some unique avenues to get the word out here.  I have found that many of these solutions boil down to one thing, the balance of time vs. money.  If you are willing to spend a lot of money to advertise your site, you will probably have some success.  If you have a lot of time and don’t get frustrated, you can also achieve success.