All too often, Internet marketers get caught up in search engine optimization and fail to recognize that it is merely one aspect of running a business online. This attitude is a leftover from a different era on the Web, when quality was less important than funneling massive amounts of traffic to a landing page. Today, that strategy will get you nowhere fast, and though SEO is still important, recent Google updates have shifted the focus to brand development and quality and away from quantity. Remember, all the traffic in the world doesn’t equate to profits if your site isn’t interesting and engaging. No matter what industry your company is in, you can utilize these four steps to achieve success in your online marketing efforts.

Creating a Business Model

Before you can even begin to think about attracting a client base, you must first develop a strong plan of action with a proven market and worthwhile return on investment. All the best new businesses have at least one element of risk, so don’t be afraid to try something new, but be realistic with your expectations. Most marketers fail at least once before finding their niche. Create a well-designed website, make sure everything works correctly and only then start worrying about bringing people in.

This is the step where SEO factors in. No matter how perfect your business, or how high your conversion factor, without a steady flow of visitors you will never see a single sale. SEO takes months or even years of dedicated patience, but the rewards are well worth it. The term is used in a broad sense, but it actually only refers to actions done on a website to boost its rankings. Everything else, including link-building, is part of search engine marketing. Consider using pay-per-click advertising and writing guest posts for bloggers within your niche to increase your reputation quickly.

Making the Sale

Once you have the infrastructure and some traffic, it’s time to start converting readers into dollars. This requires a delicate balance of presenting persuasive ad copy while not coming off as desperate. No consumer likes feeling pressured into a decision. Instead, the best marketers convince their readers that they need an item or service and let them make the choice on their own. With the right product and the perfect pitch, your SEO efforts won’t go to waste.

Building a Brand

Finally, as your business starts to see some early successes, you must establish yourself as a brand. This is achieved when consumers and other marketers turn to you as an authority in your niche. You could become the premier retailer for dog collars, the final word in affiliate marketing opportunities or the most coveted book reviewer in the sci-fi genre. Whatever your passion, make a name for yourself and others will take notice. More than SEO, Web design or any other aspect of marketing, becoming the site that everyone turns to is the key to making it as an online entrepreneur.

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