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What do you need to succeed at internet marketing?

SALT LAKE CITY – With one of the strongest economies in the US, small businesses in Utah are thriving like never before. But with so many flourishing markets, what can individuals do to stand out from the crowd? In a way, this is one of the most fundamental questions of advertising.

How can I stand out?

Most small businesses, and even many large ones, cannot afford the time or resources to manage their own marketing concerns. They turn to third-party organizations with the experience, infrastructure and expertise already in place to handle ad campaigns that can become surprisingly complex. Mistakes when working with a paid search platform like Google’s Adwords, for instance, can seem minor – such as failing to set your ads’ location to a small town rather than nation-wide – but such small errors can rack up hundreds or thousands of dollars of wasted ad budget in a matter of days if left unnoticed.

Is SEO dead?

One of the most important ways for a business to get recognized is with a high Google or Bing search ranking. A traditional staple of the internet age of marketing, SEO (an acronym virtually unknown outside the industry but seldom spelled out to the lengthy mouthful of “Search Engine Optimization”) is regularly plagued with articles and editorials asking, “Is SEO dead?” The answer is, and likely will continue to be, “no. But you have to be smarter than before.”

The big players in the search engine game, like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, constantly apply enormous effort to improving the quality of their search results. This includes filtering out websites that are deliberately tampering with their ranking. Long gone are the days where websites would be crammed beyond full of keywords, relevant or not, begging for search engine crawlers to notice them. Google has been cracking down for years on which links it gives weight to and which it penalizes: a link from a “bad” site like one with adult content, or a web directory full of links to pages that have paid to be listed there can count against you more than a “good” link would count for you.

Then what should you be doing?

SEO remains relevant. The best SEO firms keep up with Google’s ever-shifting algorithms to make sure that their clients’ websites are following the rules of the game and staying ahead of the competition. Their advice to clients often includes as much of what not to do as it does traditional staples like shady link building and keyword stuffing.

Other examples of successful internet marketing include a lively, genuine social media presence. Which sites you need to be active on will vary by industry – a business brokerage will have more success with LinkedIn than Pinterest, while a restaurant without Instagram and Yelp accounts is missing out on big opportunities to engage and entice new and old customers. But the key to a corporate social media presence is to present your business as a real living entity, with likes and interests that include but exceed the 9-5 world. A sense of humor, a sense of community and active engagement with people is one of the best ways to make social media work for your business.

Know your customers

Another strong benefit of a competently handled and active social media program is feedback from customers. Many people may be more open with what they liked and what they didn’t as they go online and vent on Twitter than they would be in person. Twitter bravery or disgruntled Yelp reviews aside, it can be a very positive way to interact with customers and get to know your market better. Few businesses take full advantage of the potential of social media. Whether due to lack of time, knowledge or interest, it is a missed opportunity few can afford.

If you want to take your business to the next level with digital media, online marketing veterans like i4 Solutions have the tools and know-how that few can afford to develop on their own. To learn more about what affordable SEO and internet advertising can do for your business, visit www.i4.net and contact their marketing experts at 801.294.6400 for a free consultation.