'Tis the Season?

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If yours is a small-to-medium business (SMB) and you are hoping that this holiday season can bring some bottom-line help, I hope you have started your online efforts already. While most folks who are inside the search marketing business know that SEO (search engine optimization) takes time to work, many SMBs are still startled by the reality.

Depending on how competitive your industry is online (remember that online and offline competition are often quite different), you may be too late to get any real organic results in time for the holidays. Sears has ALREADY started their holiday selling. So are you too busy with the day-to-day stuff to plan your holiday attack? If you are, then you are in for a rough season. This year, more than ever, online sales efforts are going to need to be intentional and well-executed since the competition for business has never be greater.

So what can you do now if the thought of the holiday season for online selling being in full swing creates a panic attack? Is it too late for anything to help get you into the game? Of course not. I will offer, though, that if you wait any longer,you are at risk of being left out in the snow this holiday shopping season. Here are a few quick tips to help you possibly capitalize on what holiday spending there may be this year.

SEO – Look at the 3-5 most important pages of your site and spruce up the content. Decide on 2 keywords per page that your content hones in on to get you the most attention from the search engines. Be sure to refresh the title tags of those pages to reflect the keyword focus, and be sure that you have strong calls to action on these revenue-producing parts of your website.

Paid search – If you feel like there is no hope for any organic ranking lift in time for the rush, then you will need to consider doing paid search to get in the game. No budget? It’s time to make the tough calls like whether you re-up for your Yellow Pages ad or put some of that money online during the high season. Be sure to comb your marketing budgets for bad marketing spend that can be reassigned for more effective use.

Social media – This year more than ever there is a chance to take advantage of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets. They are mainstreaming at a rapid rate. All I can say is that my mother-in-law is on Facebook, so their audience is now officially bigger than I would have ever imagined. Remember, social media can be inexpensive monetarily but it is extremely time-consuming, so if you are looking to get involved you may need to hire some help along the lines of a consultant or some other workers. Social media could be a shortcut to getting the right exposure for this upcoming holiday season.

Local search – If you have not claimed and optimized your local business listing in Google and the other engines, then you are missing out on a great potential audience. Don’t think about it; do it.

Networking – If your business is local, get out and press the flesh. Nothing can boost your online presence more than your smile or handshake. If you have customers from all over geographically speaking, get into some networking groups and forums that can promote your business.

Look, I’m not silly enough to think that what I have just given you is some ancient secret to online success. It’s always going to be this direct and obvious. It’s whether you act on it or not that will make the difference. It doesn’t just happen. You have to make it happen and you can. I will say this though — you better start now or else one of your competitors will give you a lump of coal in your holiday stocking.

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  1. it is important for people to realize that online marketing should always be hit from many different angles. proactive branding is what it will take to get people to really start buying. Customers need to see a business everywhere.