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Start Your Business with Digital Marketing in Mind

Before you can commit to opening and maintaining a small business, you first have to be fully prepared for the responsibilities that will be instantly entrusted to you. You have to invest a lot of your time, effort, and usually, money, in order for your company to succeed.

There’s a silver lining, though, because once you’ve gotten your company up and running, things “would” get progressively easier to handle, and as a businessman, you will grow and learn a lot from your experiences.

It’s so important for you to start everything right, or at least, be armed with the right information to aid you in your decisions.

Otherwise, all your hard work would go to waste, and you might be forced to start over. It’s not a bad thing to start over sometimes, but it would hurt to lose everything you have already invested into it.  That could be a lot of effort, a lot of money, and a lot of time—which, when you really think about it, are more or less the same.

Entrepreneur's Clock

Such is the life of a start-up. #Startup #Smallbiz

So how do you start it right the first time? Well, one way would be to come up with a plan or an overview of where you are right now, and where you want to be in, say, ten years. This means that you also need to have clear objectives in mind because as a business owner, you want your company to improve and succeed in its industry, even far into the future.

There are so many things that you can do to make your company flourish. Simply making the right investments and using the right marketing approach will do. In this day and age, the Internet provides you with plenty of tools and services that will help you develop your business in such a way as to increase its popularity, increase your sales, and increase its visibility online.

Aside from the usual advertising techniques that you use to reel in customers, you could also consider taking advantage of digital marketing.

 

What Is Digital Marketing?

If you want your small company to get more customers, become more popular, and increase its chances of securing your future, then digital marketing is one way to do it.

What is digital marketing? It is advertising using digital tools and technology, such as electronic gadgets and the Internet. Digital marketing involves you taking advantage of all the ways you can promote your brand online, from using social media to the creation of your company’s main website.

 

Why Is It so Important to Practice Digital Marketing?

Big Deal Digital Marketing

What the man said.

No, really, digital marketing IS a big deal!

One of the best advantages of digital marketing is that it works well with your offline and traditional marketing methods. You can simply practice both and reap their benefits.

Digital marketing will also teach you how to understand where your business currently is, and help you plan how you can reach your business goals. You will learn to observe how people behave online, how you competitors improve their businesses, and how you can use these kinds of information to enhance your company and marketing approach. More importantly, I think that digital marketing will help you see and appreciate your business.

 

- Cost-effectiveness

Digital marketing is generally more affordable than traditional marketing, if you think about it. Say you want to increase awareness for your brand, and you decide that the best way to do this is by creating a television commercial, you can expect this endeavor to be quite expensive. First, you need to buy a space from a television network where you can place your ad. Usually, you will only be given fifteen to sixty seconds per commercial.

That space will already cost you a lot of money, but then again, you will need to spend more on the production of that commercial. That will involve directors, creative writers, actors, equipment, etc. If your commercial is a success, that’s great, but if it’s not, that’s a lot of money down the drain.

But with digital marketing strategies, you have less risk to think about, meaning that you have more reasons to spend on advertisements. Creating social networking pages and blogs is usually free, though you have to pay for additional services. Creating an e-commerce website will require you to pay a monthly bill. However, these are still more affordable than what you can expect from traditional marketing, where a small space on the newspapers can cost a small fortune.

Another advantage of digital marketing is that you can instantly see how your marketing approach and your advertisements are doing. You have more room to test for success, which could eventually save you a lot of money by just using what works.

 

- Tracking ROI

Social Media and ROI

Despite the cartoon, a good social media plan can yield decent ROI.

Tracking ROI should become second nature to you as you grow as a businessman. There are plenty of available tools that you can use to measure the performance of your pages. You are now able to see how much traffic goes to your page, and what keywords you can use to increase your ranking for search engines.

So basically, when you have this power to effectively track your ROI, you immediately get an opportunity to measure your success, as well as see how much of this success is contributed by your digital marketing approaches.

 

- Find and Engage Your Customers

We’ve already touched on the subject that digital marketing can widen your reach, in terms of popularity and customers. However, you can do this by using traditional marketing strategies like television commercials and print advertisements. The difference is that digital marketing helps you target your specific demographics.

As a business owner, you should know better the kinds of people who will like or benefit from your products and services. Digital marketing then would provide you with the tools and the platform you need to reach out to these people. For instance, if you sell ladies’ clothes and fashion accessories, social networking sites like Pinterest, will give you the ability to show off your wares to its large number of female users.

Digital marketing also gives you many chances to regularly communicate with your customers. Social networking sites like Instagram and Facebook will make sure that these people become your followers, and so whatever you share on your profile, your followers will see. They can also share their thoughts about what you posted, as well as share your post with their friends.

Digital marketing promotes a two-way relationship between you and your customers. You can communicate with them about anything related to your company. And you can also ask for feedback, which will be used for the betterment of your marketing approach and product and service delivery.

 

- Increase Your Visibility

If your main goal is to get more customers, then digital marketing will help improve your company’s visibility online. You can write blog posts about your products and services, never forgetting that your posts should be of high quality to be useful to your audience. You can also create your own website where you can better show off your products and settle transactions.

You can create company pages on social networking sites, like Facebook, Google+, and Twitter, which hold millions of users that could become your customers and investors someday. Of course, simply creating these accounts won’t immediately put you on the spotlight. 

There are a lot of techniques involved to raise your popularity, like SEO, in which you brand your content by using high-quality and relevant content to gain visibility. Local SEO can help your brand flourish within your locality. 

Evidence Social Media

This is pretty much why you need to be on social media to exist nowadays. (Excuse MySpace, please.)

Some companies have the fortune of being propelled to the limelight by creating content that has become viral. In traditional marketing, this can be likened to news that travels by word of mouth and spreads overtime. However, with digital marketing, viral content can spread all over the world overnight, usually via social networking sites.

Now, if you were to create content, maybe an article post, a picture, a Vine, or a video, which would suddenly go viral, you can expect more people to go to your website, which means more traffic to your page, resulting in a higher chance of conversion. This could then increase your sales. Conversion means that your visitors performed your desired action on your page. This could be buying a product or service, subscribing to your newsletter, following your social network pages or whatever you want them to do. They will also find out about your business and they can just drop by your store.

 

Think of It as an Investment


Every aspect of your business, including digital marketing, is an investment.
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Every aspect of your business, including digital marketing, is an investment. There is a risk involved because no matter how much you test or optimize your advertisements, your SEO strategies, and your websites, there is no guarantee that these will have the effect that you desire.

However, with digital marketing as an investment, you have the advantage of getting more time and more space for adjustments and further development. If your ad fails, you can always make a new one without fear of the costs. Having social network pages where you can communicate with people will help you establish relationships with them, as well as help you do some damage control if necessary.

Digital marketing could also be the step you need to take to go international with your business, with its advantage of allowing you to reach people all over the world.  Now if you really think about all the benefits it could give you, plus the fewer risks it involves, digital marketing becomes a cost-effective business tool you could leverage to your advantage.

Now, would you still not want to try out digital marketing for your startup business? I’m pretty sure you want to now.

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Dennis Seymour

Dennis is a wannabe coffee connoisseur and loves sharing great content about digital marketing. If you want to tell him about that great cup of joe or simply talk about boring topics like SEO, just get in touch with him on Twitter, Google+ or his blog. BTW, if you like this post, be sure to subscribe to our RSS Feed.

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Echobox Launches To Let Publishers Intelligently Share Content To Twitter And Facebook

Featured Image -- 130

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

It looks like SocialFlow and, to a lesser extent, social media scheduling apps like Buffer, just got some more competition. Pulling back the curtain today is Echobox, the UK data and analytics startup, with a service that lets publishers intelligently share content to Twitter and Facebook.

By pairing Echobox with a site’s Google Analytics, the service mines that data, coupled with its own algorithms, to make suggestions in real-time on the best time to post a specific article to capture as much audience attention as possible.

The product launching today is also a lot narrower in scope — and, perhaps, less disruptive — than the early-look Echobox we profiled back in February, which also included editorial suggestions. But the aim remains the same: To help news publishers make sense of their data and put it to better use, increasing traffic as a result.

“We realized that the…

View original 460 more words

Bitcoin Mining Company Buys Critical Site To Improve Google Results

Featured Image -- 127

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

[tc_dropcap]You’ll be excused for not being aware of Buttcoin.org, a bitcoin site that has been critical of both the endlessly optimistic spirit of the bitcoin community and, more important, of the broken hardware users have received from so-called bitcoin mining providers. One company, Butterfly Labs, decided to turn that double frown upside-down, so to speak, and purchased the site outright in an anonymous sale. The result? A search for “butterfly labs scam,” which once returned a link from Buttcoin excoriating the hardware based on user reports, now returns a story with the headline “The $22,484.00 Butterfly Labs Mini Rig bitcoin miner is a sexy bitcoin mining machine.”[/tc_dropcap]

“I don’t want to go to specific into the terms of the sale due to some language in the contract that’s tricky but it was a hair into the 5 figure range, yes. Nothing to change anything about my…

View original 657 more words

Staying Away from Dangerous SEO

If you’ve read our article about SEO and local SEO, then you already have an understanding of how important they are in promoting your business.

SEO (search engine optimization) is quite easy to practice, but for your endeavor to be fruitful, you must be willing to sacrifice time and effort. A good deal of patience goes a long way, too, since you never know when to expect a boost, or any kind of change, in page traffic and sales once you’ve “done SEO” properly.

You should always think of SEO as an investment, not as an expense that you need to get over with as soon as possible. Doing SEO early has its merits, especially since it provides you with a foundation on which you can build and further optimize your website.

The process of doing SEO can be as simple as keyword optimization and the generation of high-quality content, wherein the latter holds more importance. Using tools and advertisements is also part of SEO because they guide you in how to implement your strategy to get the best results, and they help increase your visibility, respectively.

The most controversial part of SEO is link building. Of all the off-page SEO factors, link building has been the one that has changed dramatically over the last few years. Just for those that aren’t familiar with it, it’s when you get a link from another site to point to your site. For local SEO, posting business listings on major directories can also give you a link back to your website.

But getting links shouldn’t be done without thought. True, it’s easy to get links on some sites but you should always strive to get links relevant to the nature of your business. You wouldn’t want to be associated with sites whose content has nothing to do with your brand, right? So I encourage you to be picky about where you get your links.

The Good Side and Bad Side of SEO

Black Hat SEO White Hat SEO

White Hat and Black Hat SEO are the traditional categories into which SEO practices fall.

When I first heard about SEO (lots of years ago) and what it’s all about, I immediately thought of it in a negative light. So many articles I found on the Internet focused on putting a lot of keywords on a website in the hopes that these will be picked up by the search engines. This then became an excuse for many people to spam their websites with keywords so that their websites will get a higher ranking on the SERPs.

Fortunately, search engines were also quick to pick up on this gaming system, and until now, they are continuously changing their algorithms to make sure that only what is relevant to the searched keywords will land on the front sections of the SERPs.

Still, SEO has its good side and bad sides, in terms of the techniques used and the motive of the person engaging in SEO.

If you read the article on SEO, then you know that there are SEO practices that will either be favorable to your company, known as white hat SEO, or do more harm than good to it, which is referred to as black hat SEO. 

From that article, here is a table that clearly shows the difference between black hat SEO and white hat SEO.

Black Hat SEO

White Hat SEO

Uses manipulative techniques to gain high ranking and visibility

Adheres to the rules and regulations that search engines have for SEO

Users of black hat SEO put themselves and their companies at risk for heavy penalties, lower rankings, and deindexing

White hat SEO users don’t need to worry about this because their techniques are acceptable in terms of search engine standards

Often uses tactics like keyword stuffing, mass link-building, spamming, and other unethical means to game the search engines’ algorithms

Relies on keyword and content optimization, “proper” content marketing, using PPC ads and tools for tests, and enhancing the website’s overall design

So basically, white hat SEO is focused on optimizing the website for the benefit of both the company and its customers. It seeks to establish an online presence the natural way, and without using any shortcuts. Black hat SEO, meanwhile, is all about shortcuts and finding ways to game the algorithms of search engines.

Another major difference between the two is the duration of the sites subject to the techniques. In the case of the white hat, the SEO techniques are implemented in the hope that the website will stay for a long time, and ultimately cultivate a loyal following.

With black hat SEO, the website is always under the watchful eye of search engines, and it is always at risk for penalties and de-indexing. However, those who engage in these tactics are mostly not concerned about the life of the site. It’s always about getting to the top to get money in the shortest time possible. If search engines like Google decide to deindex the business’ website, it’s perfectly alright because these people will find ways to get into business again.

Another “area” of SEO that you need to be aware of, is gray hat SEO, which is basically using techniques from both black and white hat SEO. Believe it or not, this is pretty normal for most of the companies that have gotten in touch with us.

There is also such a thing that is called negative SEO, which you really need to watch out for. With negative SEO, it is your competitors who will exhaust all means to discredit your company’s reputation, from hacking your site to spamming your website in an effort to drop your site’s ranking. (A lot of people will try to debunk this, but I have personally tried this on some of my personal experiments. I can’t deny it. The results were conclusive.)

Grey Hat SEO Negative SEO

Negative SEO isn’t really called Red Hat SEO. But in the absence of a better color, why not call it that?

Both black hat SEO techniques and negative SEO can be considered the same thing, albeit with different goals. Either way, both can be called dangerous SEO just for the reason that both can have very negative effects on your business.

Unfortunately, there are so many businesspeople who aren’t even aware that they are already engaging in dangerous SEO techniques.

If you have tight competition, you may even be tempted to use negative SEO as a means to target your competitors. Meanwhile, you can also be targeted by negative SEO without you knowing. Black hat SEO can also be quite enticing because of the promises and the shortcuts. However, if you get caught, there’s no saying how much damage your company will get, and so it’s better to just stay away from these. We’ve already started work with a client that got their domain in trouble by using black hat SEO. And since the domain name is very important to their brand, they really want to save it. Don’t let this happen to you.

I have personally done both sides and as this is an ever evolving business, I have to keep myself, our clients and my team well informed.

 

Looking Out for Dangerous SEO Providers

Some of you who are not familiar with SEO seek the services of professionals who can do SEO for you. But again, you need to be picky when choosing an SEO service provided be it a company or freelance team.

I’m not saying that all SEO companies out there are only after your money, as there are plenty of credible ones that you can immediately go to for help. It is recommended, though, that before you become drawn to the many promises and guarantees of an SEO company, you better be aware of what you’re getting yourself into.

The saying “You get what you pay for” pretty much applies here. As mentioned before, the price of the SEO team’s services should be considered. What if you are promised a lot of services and a lot of benefits just for an unbelievably low price? Well, another saying goes that “If it is too good to be true, then it probably is.”

One of the things I like to bring up with prospective clients is to take into consideration that this is an industry driven by information and technical know-how. How much would that cost them if they had their own team? By hiring an SEO company, they hire a whole team with specialized skills. It doesn’t take too much to realize that SEO is actually pretty affordable and convenient.

The image below clearly shows how you can easily spot a bad SEO provider from a good one:

How to Spot Good and Bad SEO Companies

We have to agree with most of the stuff on the list

 

Remember: cheap price = cheap services. These cheap services include:

  • Keyword Stuffing Masked as “On-Page SEO” – It’s true that keywords are useful when it comes to indicating to the search engines that your content may be useful to the keywords (or long tail phrases) typed by the searcher. However, keyword optimization is very different from keyword stuffing, in which keywords are literally stuffed everywhere.

    While keyword optimization encourages you to place keywords in strategic places , keyword stuffing just basically puts keywords where they don’t make sense, and usually, the keywords and phrases have no variety. They are just words being used over and over, making your site’s content look and sound of poor quality. Yes, there are services that do this. Some even hide text with a font color that is the same with the background. Ingenius, huh?

  • Low-quality content – Speaking of content, did you know that having high-quality content on your website already counts as an SEO best practice? Doing this alone can go a long way to helping you get a higher page ranking on the SERPs. Plus, if people like what they see on your page, they’re likely to come back for more. When we refer to high-quality content, we refer to something that people can actually use or content that can help them with something.

    SEO providers that guarantee you results in a short time for a low price won’t have the time and the interest to write very high-quality pieces for you. Most of the time, you will be given articles that were written using poor English skills.

    I don’t know about you, but when I’m doing my research, when I come across an article that has a lot of spelling and grammar mistakes, I immediately move on to another article. Remember that your site’s content reflects your business’s credibility, so if you can manage it, you’re better off creating the content on your own.

  • Poor/Mass/Low Quality link-building – It’s fine for you to get links to your company website from other sites whose content may be relevant to yours. You can also get links from all of your social pages to improve your branding. Search engines consider the links you’re connecting to and connected to, and these links are just a few of the factors that affect your ranking on the SERPs. 

However, what search engines cannot tolerate is a website that is linking to and linked to other websites that are of very poor quality. The kind of links that were primarily created to manipulate search engines’ algorithms. Cheap providers will give you links from artificial blog networks, low quality forum profile spam, non-sensical blog comments, practically dead social bookmarking websites and more! It’s cheap to do, it can be automated and they can deliver in mass. That’s why they can sell it to you cheaply.

So when these search engines find out that you are connected to these bad links and networks, you will be penalized and your ranking will drop. Your site might also disappear altogether.

Always keep in mind that this is your business that you’re nurturing and slowly developing for the future. It’s not wise to give something that you’re investing in the cheapest of treatments. Otherwise, you can expect this decision to backfire eventually, and it’s your reputation that will take the hit.

Our Tip: Think of SEO as an investment.


Think of SEO as an investment. See it’s Value and not look at it as an Expense.
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When done right, it will bring you endless, highly targeted leads and conversions. It can actually grow your business exponentially! 

So the next time that you are in a conversation with an SEO consultant – expert – team – agency or whatever, they need to show you SEOs value to your business, instead of showing you how many links they can build in a day, nor the hours they will be putting in for the duration of the project.

Take The Conversation Further

Have you experienced working with a bad seo company? We’re sure that a lot of other business owners would love to hear from you.
Meet us over on Google+ or Twitter to join the conversation right now!

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Join Our SEO and Digital Marketing Community!

We just started a new community on Google+ about SEO and everything related to Digital Marketing! Whether you are running a startup with no marketing experience, a budding SEO, a long-time entrepreneur or a digital marketing expert, you are welcome to join!

Join The Community Today!

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Dennis Seymour

Dennis is a wannabe coffee connoisseur and loves sharing great content about digital marketing. If you want to tell him about that great cup of joe or simply talk about boring topics like SEO, just get in touch with him on Twitter, Google+ or his blog. BTW, if you like this post, be sure to subscribe to our RSS Feed.

The post Staying Away from Dangerous SEO appeared first on LeapFroggr Inc..

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Android Wear Gets Its Own Companion App, Plus A Dedicated Section In Google Play’s App Store

Featured Image -- 121

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Android Wear, Google’s new smartwatch platform powering wrist-computers like the LG G, Samsung Gear Live, and Moto 360, now has its own companion application. The app, also called Android Wear for simplicity’s sake (?), is available from the Google Play app store, allowing watch owners to configure various settings and voice actions on their device.

The app today offers some fairly basic functionality, like configuring notifications preferences or various voice actions for things like the alarm, timer or agenda on an Android Wear smartwatch. But the app could eventually be expanded to allow for more functionality in the future, as the Android Wear platform becomes further developed.

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 9.55.45 AM

Alongside the app’s launch, Google also introduced a dedicated “Android Wear” section within the Play Store, featuring some two dozen watch-ready apps including those that let you send messages, check flights, view maps, or even see what’s going on around you.

The initial…

View original 104 more words

SEO and SEM: Is There a Difference?

If you’ve read our article about search engine optimization, more commonly known as SEO, then you already know the basic things that you can do to increase the popularity of your website, especially on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Many people are also familiar with the term “search engine marketing” or SEM, which also helps in increasing your visibility and traffic to your page.

Now the question you might be asking is: Is there a difference?  The SEO vs. SEM issue is one a lot of newcomers to the online marketing world struggle with, since they run into both terms so often.  To help those of you who are still wondering about it, we’re taking up the topic today.

SEO vs. SEM comparison

Where do their differences lie?

To answer that question, let’s review first what we learned about SEO.

What Is SEO?

SEO Superman

Search engine optimization refers to the practices that you engage in to increase your ranking in the organic results of the search engines. When your page appears on the front portion of the SERPs, this would increase the chances that people will be directed to your website, which means more traffic. More traffic means a higher rate for conversion. Improved conversion rates mean better sales, and thus, more profit.

Now, we also talked about how search engine spiders are tasked to “crawl” all over the website in order to rank and index the page according to relevance. Thus, when a person makes queries that are related to your page, these spiders will rank your page higher on the SERPs’ natural traffic.

This is the goal of SEO: to make your page stand out from the other websites listed in the SERPs’ natural results.

How Does SEO Do That?

If I would tell you all the standards and the algorithm made by search engines to rank websites according to the usefulness to the query, then this would be a really long article. Search engines have over 200 different things that they will look for when determining where to rank your page, and you need to satisfy most, if not all, in order for the search engines to give you a coveted spot at the head of the SERPs.

Keywords

One way that you can optimize your website for search engines is by putting keywords strategically on your page. The process of keyword optimization involves a lot of research and brainstorming to come up with the appropriate keywords and phrases.

You also need to think about the density of these keywords. Using keywords too sparingly could have little to no effect on your visibility, while using them too much could put you at risk of keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is the process of spamming your website with keywords, and this is a practice that is frowned upon by search engines.

The key here lies in your research. If you’ve read our article about keywords, you would know the strategic places to put your keywords, as well as how you can come up with, organize, and incorporate the right keywords properly on your page.

Content

Now while using keywords would help increase your ranking on the SERPs, this should not be your priority. Instead, you should focus on generating relevant and high-quality content on your page. Make sure that what people find on your page is related and useful to what they’re searching for.

Your content is what will ultimately make these people stay on your page, so it should be relevant and engaging. Whether you have an official website, a blog, or a social networking page, people will be drawn more to the contents of these pages, so make them count.

What you can do is create your keywords and then build useful content that will revolve around that keyword. That way, you would be able to insert your keywords and phrases naturally. With SEO, striking the right balance between your keywords and the content is the key to success.

Now let’s move on to SEM.

 

What Is SEM?

SEM Superman

Search engine marketing, or SEM, refers to the process of promoting your website by means of engaging in practices that will increase its ranking on the SERPs. It sounds a lot like SEO, right? Well, it should.  But what’s different is that SEO plays a part in SEM, and SEM refers to the practice of marketing on search engine result pages as a whole.

Aside from SEO, SEM makes use of advertising tools and techniques that will allow your page’s listing to be displayed prominently on the SERPs. Earlier, we said that SEO’s role is to make a website stand out among the list of natural results that search engines bring. With SEM, things like pay-per-click ads or PPC ads are used to guarantee that your listing will appear on the SERPs.

Many people have the misconception that SEM is only about paid advertising; however, the reality is that SEM is concerned with improving a page’s ranking in both organic and sponsored listings. That’s why it is often said before that SEO is simply a part of SEM.

Note: For the rest of this article, we will focus on the PPC side of SEM to make things a bit simpler to understand.

 

What’s the Difference between the Two?

SEO and SEM work very well together, and it might be difficult to differentiate between the two because both aim for better and higher placement on the SERPs. Let’s not forget that SEO is also considered a component of SEM, and SEM is concerned with both organic and paid results.

However, we can clearly see the difference between the two by their results. For example, your SEO will make your page’s rank in the organic listing go up, while SEM, with its sponsored ads, will ensure that the ad will have placement on the SERPs.

SEO is a long and continuous process. While there is a beginning to SEO, there really is no end in sight. The same is true for SEM, but then again, once you engage in SEM, the results will be immediate, provided that you’ve done your strategy right. With SEO, results could be felt after days, weeks, months, or even years.

 

What Are Their Advantages and Disadvantages?

SEO and SEM have their own advantages. For instance, between the two, many people will automatically choose results from the organic list. PPC ads, because they are ads, are less likely to be trusted immediately, especially if the ad is accompanied by descriptions that make it sound too promotional. Depending on the nature of the market, PPC might not convert as well as organic leads from SEO. 

SEO also has long-term benefits, as once you’ve gotten a spot on the front page of the SERPs, you will only need to maintain that placement by continually working on the different SEO factors. Whereas the placement of ads depends on your ability to pay and optimize for the different terms and sometimes, your ability to win in bidding wars.

SEO Wins Against SEM

Then again, you can be in front of your competitor’s keywords and brand faster by using SEM. So this also gets you enough visibility to get their customers to look at you as another option.

The success of SEM ads is easier to measure and monitor as well. You are provided with information and tools that help you test and tweak your campaigns to make them more effective in targeting and converting customers. Because PPC ads require you to shell out money, it becomes quicker for you to calculate your return on investment.

SEM Wins AGainst SEO

 

SEO vs. SEM

So which is better? Is it SEO, with its ability to get your page to the top of the SERPs naturally, or SEM, which promises a place at the SERPs via paid ads and other advertising tools and techniques?

Well, there really is no clear winner between the two. Both are serious investments, in terms of time and money. They are concerned with optimizing your website in such a way as to give you high visibility, leading to more traffic. In the online business, traffic would often lead to high sales and conversion.

Both also have advantages and disadvantages, and you might hate me for saying that it’s up to you to judge what is better. But at the end of the day, it really depends on which you prefer.

On the other hand, you can choose not to choose. 

 

SEO and SEM

Really, why should you be forced to focus on only one of them?

If you are still starting an online business, what you can do is start engaging in SEO best practices. Start by putting useful and well-written content on your page, complete with the right keywords. You may also engage in link-building as an aid to boost your popularity and ranking on the SERPs.

If you’re doing your SEO correctly, then you can be assured that you will feel positive results soon. Remember that SEO is an investment. You work out your SEO strategies and hope for the best.

Once you’ve implemented an SEO plan that is working well for you, and you still want to boost your visibility, then you might want to consider engaging in SEM methods, particularly in using PPC ads. Of course, you can use PPC ads before doing your SEO, but the thing is that you first need to be aware of SEO for your ads to be successful.

For instance, you might be using the best tools that will help you get a good spot on the SERPs for your ad, but without knowledge of SEO, you won’t be able to optimize your listing and your landing page in such a way that they will engage the visitors and encourage them to convert.

Data from your SEM can also help you build effective SEO campaigns, especially now that Google is starting to withhold keyword data. When you conduct a PPC campaign, the data that you will get from the tools you use, such as the keywords that target and convert better, can be used for your SEO campaigns.

SEO and SEM

The two really do go hand in hand.

So instead of seeing SEO and SEM as competitors, you can choose to see them as collaborators that will help you reach your goal, which is getting targeted traffic from the search engines and converting them.

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Ways to Sell Online in the Philippines

Before the introduction of social networking websites, I remember that there wasn’t much to do on the Internet except to research for school work, send emails, and play some games. Back then, I was told by my mom to only use the Internet when I really needed to.  This was because Internet connections then were slow and unstable, not to mention the fact that when you went online, your family couldn’t use the home phone.

caveman computing

Compared to today, going online felt like caveman computing back then.

Connecting to the Internet was so much of an inconvenience for me before that I could go for weeks without going online. Obviously, everything changed with time. Suddenly there were more things to do, more websites to look at, and more time to spend online. Telecommunication companies also went out of their way to give their subscribers stronger Internet connections. Today, it’s normal for homes to have Wi-Fi connections that are on 24/7. Fortunately for me, I was in my teens when all of these things happened, so I was able to adjust to the major changes and navigate my way around the Web without much difficulty.

One of the most important contributions that the Internet has given us, in my opinion, is e-commerce. E-commerce simply means doing business via electronic networks, often through the Internet. There are also several platforms to use in e-commerce. You’d be surprised how Friendster, which was then the most popular social networking site in the country, was also used to start and promote businesses.

Then Multiply.com came along, and people decided to start setting up shop there. I used to have a Multiply account where I stored my pictures and videos and started a blog, but later on, I noticed that the site was being used by a lot of people for business purposes. Because of the ability to upload images and videos, Multiply was an effective platform for businesspeople to show off their wares and also connect to other Multiply users.

Multiply logo

Multiply was the main social networking site too, back then.

Multiply.com was such a big hit to those who wanted to start and promote businesses that the company decided to make a transition from being a content-sharing network to a full-fledged e-commerce website. Unfortunately, the transition didn’t go so well. A few weeks after the company introduced its “new and improved” website, Multiply.com was bombarded by several complaints from sellers.

I’ve read some of the problems that these sellers had with the new Multiply.com. One of these was that some of the listings that sellers added would not appear on the search results page. There was also a case in which Multiply wasn’t able to communicate the details of a buyer’s order to the seller very well.

For example, say the buyer ordered a red leather women’s wallet. Multiply would then notify the seller that someone is willing to buy his products, but the company would just say that the buyer ordered a leather wallet. That’s all. There’s not much information you can get out of that, right? If you’re the seller, you won’t know if the client ordered a blue or red wallet, or if the client needed a man’s or a woman’s wallet.

Other problems included the sellers not being able to communicate with their buyers, and vice versa, within the site because there were no private messaging or chat options. Instead, people had to communicate using regular emails. There were also reports that when transactions were finally done, some sellers would often not receive the money.

Although Multiply.com later solved some of these problems, too much damage had been done, and many “Multipliers” already lost faith in the website.  People then turned to other e-commerce and social networking websites. Multiply.com lost a lot of users and money. The company shut down May 6, 2013.

Fortunately, Multiply.com isn’t the only e-commerce website worth using to sell products and promote businesses. As we say goodbye to Multiply, we also say hello to a variety of methods and platforms that we can use to set up shop, starting with online classified ads.

 

I. Classified Ads

Let’s start off with a short exercise. Go to Google now and search for “selling online Philippines”. What do the first results point to? Here’s a screenshot of the results that appeared on my results:

Selling Online Philippines

The results for “selling online Philippines”

What do you notice about the results? They are all pointing to classified ads websites. These websites allow sellers to create accounts and post their product listings, where people are more likely to see the products when they browse. Here in the country, the most popular of these websites are Sulit.com.ph/OLX, AyosDito.ph, and eBay.ph. Some classified ads sites are very specific about the products that sellers should sell, like TipidPC (electronics), MyProperty.ph (real estate), and Sulit/OLX Cars (automobile).

The good thing about these websites is that they allow you to create free accounts, and they give you everything you need to communicate with buyers, show off your products, and personalize your listings. Sites like Sulit and eBay also give details such as buyer’s feedback, which can greatly affect the seller’s credibility and the buyer’s decision to transact with him. In eBay, buyers can haggle for the price of an item by bidding. Of course, the winning bidder pays the amount he has won with. If you’re a seller, running bidding wars is a great way to engage more people and up the current price of your item. Another advantage of these websites is that people don’t have to have an account to look at your listings and communicate with you.

A big disadvantage of these sites is that they “own” your content so they can choose to delete your ads or revoke your account anytime if you don’t follow their rules. That’s too bad if you have been paying a lot to keep your listings up for weeks and if you’ve invested in promotions.

Still, if you don’t have a physical store, or if you haven’t gotten around to creating a website yet, and you’re new to the e-commerce industry, then I suggest that you try out these classified ads first and see how you fare. Creating and maintaining an account is very easy, too, and it won’t take a lot of your time.

If you’ve already decided to use classified ads websites to sell your products, then what you need to do next would be to increase the visibility of your listings. With so many limitations on these sites, what can you possibly do to make your listings stand out? The best answer is by making sure that your content is attractive. 

For example, upload the best-looking pictures of the product you’re selling.  This is usually pretty important: visuals count for a lot where consumers are concerned.  

Good Bad Product Photo

Take these 2 photos of a shepherd’s pie: which one looks more… well, consumable?

In most cases, though, just uploading one good shot isn’t enough.  Make sure to upload a variety of pictures, and add a description that’s straight to the point, as people don’t like to read long paragraphs. Don’t forget these important details that people immediately look for: size, price, color, payment methods, and shipping fee (if applicable).

After each transaction, ask your customer about his experience in doing business with you. Encourage him to leave feedback on your page. What if he leaves average or negative feedback? No worries. Use the criticism you get to improve your performance. Plus, in the feedback section, you are given the opportunity to reply to all your feedback. If you get feedback that is negative, be professional and talk to the customer, ask him how you can improve your transactions, and assure him that you will improve.

Of course, if you don’t want any negative feedback appearing on your page, you simply have to make every effort to please a customer. It’s not as difficult as you might think. Responding to questions promptly, going to meet-ups early, and updating customers about the shipping will all give you a thumbs-up from your buyers. These simple actions show that you care about them. Some sellers even give freebies and discounts to loyal customers, or when unexpected things happen.

For example,I’ve had the experience of buying a shirt online, and once I paid for it, the seller told me that I’ll get the item within two days. But I didn’t. It turned out that the shirt was shipped to a different customer. To make amends, the seller shipped to me the shirt I ordered, plus two more shirts because of the extra two days I had to wait. Suffice it to say that even with the inconvenience, I was one happy customer. I gave the seller very positive feedback.

Finally, what’s great about online classified ads is that you don’t need to spend a lot of time in managing it. Once you’ve posted your listing, you just have to wait for a customer to buy your products. Since time is precious in the business world, while you’re waiting, you may want to use your time taking advantage of other platforms by which you can expand your market. This brings us to the very popular social networking websites.

 

II. Social Network Websites

Almost everybody in the world has created an account in social networking websites, and here’s hoping that you have too. Today, there are millions of people every day who log on to their social pages to update their statuses, post pictures and videos, and just talk to their family and friends. However, let’s not forget that some of their time spent in these networks is used browsing and reading about what their friends liked, shared, and commented on.

As a seller, your job would be to make sure that your posts are visible to as many people as possible. In order to achieve a high viewership, you need to make your posts eye-catching and relevant. You also need to post updates that will engage your followers, particularly your target market. Did you also know that there are certain times and days in a week when your posts will get more views?These things should be included in your market research and strategy formulation.

If you want to start selling via social networking websites, you need to know the most effective platforms where you need to create a business page. I can think of three sites that you definitely should use for both selling your products and promoting your business, namely: Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Facebook

Boasting over 1.2 billion monthly users, Facebook continues to be the number one social networking website today. Its popularity is expected to increase by eighteen percent year after year, and for you, that means that Facebook could be your vehicle to success. Being a businessperson, you know that having a thousand followers online is already a big deal; what more if you can get over a million of people following your page?

So how do you get people to see and buy your brands? First of all, you need to create a page that is entirely dedicated to your company or your store. Facebook has long been known for the ability for businesspeople like yourself to create a business page, though you still need to have an individual Facebook account. I suggest that you create a new account that will be used for business only. You’d be surprised to learn that a lot of people still use their personal accounts to create a business page. I don’t need to tell you how confusing that will be later on, not to mention potentially dangerous.  

Business Personal Separation

Combining your business and personal social media accounts can result in some clashes.

Try to create a business page now, if you haven’t done so. Go to Facebook.com and click on “Create a Page”. At this point, you’ll be asked to log-in to the Facebook account you made for your business. After logging in, click on “Local Business or Page”.

Create Business Account Facebook

Step 1 of creating a business account

A drop-down form will then appear, in which you need to specify the details of your business. 

Create Business Account Facebook

Step 2 of creating a Facebook business account

Make sure to complete all fields. When you’re satisfied with what you’ve inputted, click on “Get Started”, and your business page is good to go. It’s time to complete your profile by adding a profile picture, giving it a brief description, and completing your About Me page.

When your information is correct and complete, the next things for you to do would be to create a following base, post your content, and get your followers to like, comment, and share these posts. A more in-depth guide on how you can accomplish these can be found here.

Instagram

Instagram is a mobile application that will allow you to take snapshots, record videos, and edit them using filters and effects before uploading them to your social networking profiles like Facebook. If you have an iPhone or an Android phone, then you might have installed an Instagram application there for purely personal and convenience reasons. But did you know that you can also create an Instagram account that you can use to show off your products and promote your business?

Instagram logo

Instagram is a good visual marketing channel.

From your mobile phone, you need to create an account. Once you have an Instagram account, you can now view and edit your profile by logging in using your computer. Doing this makes it easier for you to follow people and like, share, and comment on other people’s posts. On the other hand, Instagram encourages you to do more things on your mobile phone.

As a businessman, it’s important for you to present your products in the best possible way. Thankfully, Instagram gives you the freedom to edit your pictures and videos before uploading them, optimizing them in such a way that they become eye-catching. Instagram is a great tool to use if your business approach is more on enticing customers using visual content. You can learn more about using Instagram for business here.

Pinterest

Another social networking website that is quickly gaining popularity today is Pinterest. Like Instagram, you can also create a Pinterest account where you can share visually stimulating content. The only difference is that while Instagram is being used more by young people, Pinterest is very popular among women.

To create an account on Pinterest, you can use your existing Facebook account, or do it the old-fashioned way: by registering an email address. I suggest that you go with the former to make it easier for you to manage both accounts. You can also create an official Pinterest business page by going to http://ift.tt/QGLStU.

Join Pinterest Business

Joining Pinterest as a business

What’s different about Pinterest is that users are able to create stories using multiple photos and links on their boards. As a seller, your aim is to get traffic to your page by sharing eye-catching content. Here, you are free to post pictures of your products, and you can group these products according to categories using boards. Today, there are now rich pins that allow you to add more details to your images, like product descriptions, links where to buy, and prices. Learn more on how to use Pinterest for your business here.

On a side note, if you love Twitter then you’d be pleased to know that they are now testing their platform for selling products.

 

III. Blogs and E-commerce Sites

Aside from social networking sites, you may want to look into blogs to create your online store from scratch. Some examples are Tumblr, Weebly, and WordPress. This may be difficult at first, especially if you are not yet familiar with HTML and JavaScript language, but one advantage of these blogs is that you have more control over the content of your page.

Blogs are also friendly for people who are just starting to use one for the first time. Like Multiply, you can choose from a number of designs and templates to make your page look more appealing. On the other hand, if you know how to use HTML codes, then creating pages and subpages will be a breeze.

The best thing about blogs is that you can write to your heart’s content, but I suggest that you take care to write only relevant and interesting pieces on your blog. You can also accompany your text with optimized pictures and videos, especially when you’ll be using the blog to sell your products. Plus, you can promote your other websites without shame. Just don’t overdo it.

When starting a blog, there are some things that you shouldn’t forget, namely: a picture of you or your business logo, the name of your company/store, a brief description, your email address, contact details, and the address of your store, if applicable. You should also have commenting sections at the end of each post so you can communicate with other people who might be interested to buy your products.

On the other hand, if you are not a fan of blogging, then I suggest that you look into e-commerce hosting sites like Shopify, BigCommerce and Squarespace. Basically, e-commerce hosting sites give you a space for your business for a fee. Aside from the space, they will also provide you with the necessary tools to help you start your business. Think of this as a wizard of sorts that will give you the templates you need to create an up-and-running website.

The advantage of e-commerce hosting websites is that you get help in setting up and managing your online business. You also get tips on how to use the tools and your space more effectively. The drawback is that you have to pay a fee every month to keep that space, and when you need to use a service that is not part of the package you bought, you will have to pay extra. This is not good if you don’t have that much in your budget.

 

IV. Create your own website

Now if you want 100% control over every aspect of your page, and if you want to make an established online store, then what you need to do is to create your own website. Before you can do so, you first have to make a plan of how you want your website to look like. It’s perfectly alright to be meticulous at this point, since you want your site to be interesting to your viewers. Of course you want your site to be something you can be proud of, so you have to work really hard on it. Start with your market research.

Know your target market, specifically the demographic that your products usually appeal to. Come up with layouts that will attract that demographic and make their experience in navigating your page fun and satisfying. Your content should also appeal to them. To do this, you can add pictures and videos that will grab their attention.

When you have a clear vision of how you would like your website to look, you can now go online to buy a domain name for your business. The best thing about having your domain name is that it looks more official, right? And it gives your online shop the credibility it needs, and your reputation will further increase when you keep optimizing the look and content of your website. To learn more about how to build your own e-commerce site, visit this page.

From here on out, you’d need to learn marketing, which mainly involves SEO, social media marketing and PPC. If you are a local brand then you might want to just start off with local SEO

Need more inspiration to start selling online? Here’s a great story from the SEOTeky blog

 

So there you have it! With so many options available, it would really be foolish for you not to start a business online. From classified ads websites to social networks to blogs to e-commerce sites to your own website, you won’t have any problems looking for an outlet to promote your products and reinforce your brand. The question now is, which service would you want to start with?

 

We’d love to hear your story!

I’ve been selling online just before the internet got any mainstream attention in the Philippines. I blogged about it on this site, but it has a code that you need to enter (clue: Contra) and if you figure it out, then you’ll have a free hour of consultation (Philippines only) with me about your online business.

How about you? What’s your story? What platform do you use? Let us know :)

 

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Dennis is a wannabe coffee connoisseur and loves sharing great content about digital marketing. If you want to tell him about that great cup of joe or simply talk about boring topics like SEO, just get in touch with him on Twitter, Google+ or his blog. BTW, if you like this post, be sure to subscribe to our RSS Feed.

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