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The 7 Most Effective Online Advertising Mediums

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Dying to get into internet advertising but don’t know where to start? There is a ton of information out there which can be very overwhelming for the beginner.

To give those who are new to internet marketing a basic understanding of some different online advertising avenues, I have compiled a list of some of the most popular and often used forms of internet advertising.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is the practice of optimizing your web site structure, content and coding so that your site will appear at the top rankings on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for certain desired keywords.

Traditionally, this was achieved via meta tags. However, now Google’s algorithms essentially ignore these tags and base rankings on other factors such as inbound links (links that direct to your site) as well as your content (most specifically title tags, header tags and image descriptions). Google’s algorithms are extremely complex and always changing. Entire careers are dedicated just on learning how Google’s algorithms work and how best to get your site listed with as high rankings as possible.

For those of you who haven’t a clue as to what “tags” or “algorithms” are, it would probably be best for you to hire a web designer and even an SEO specialist instead of learning it yourself. In fact, even if you do know all of this, chances are the professionals can do a better job at this anyway.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)/Google AdWords

If you perform a search in Google, chances are you will see some “sponsored links” at the right-hand side of the page. These are what is known as “Pay-Per-Click” ads (Google’s PPC program is called “AdWords”). They are essentially paid search where you bid a certain price per click in exchange for getting higher rankings on SERPs for certain specified keywords and terms.

The ads that appear here are a maximum of 140 characters long (including spaces) and should be specifically geared to the keywords that the user is searching for. Best practices include designating specific landing pages with ad copy that uniquely correspond to the keywords and ad copy on the Search Engine Results Page. Many companies often link these ads directly to their home page, however multiple sources consider this to be bad practice.

When selecting keywords, choose some that are broad, some deep, some specific and some general. The specific may be cheaper keywords, but will not yield nearly as many hits. This is why it is important to have a fair balance of different kinds of keywords.

I am admittedly a beginner in PPC marketing, however what I have found that has worked best so far is setting intial bids for keywords higher, and as your “quality score” (the relevance grade that Google gives you per keyword) increases, your minimum cost per click will decrease, allowing you to lower your maximum bid.

If you are really interested in PPC marketing, there are a number of sources you can look into. I will firstly recommend AdWords for Dummies by Howie Jacobson (I have already mentioned this book a bunch of times), Marketing Experiments Journal and, for landing pages, Marketing Sherpa and Copyblogger.

Social Networking

This, as many may know is becoming extremely popular and successful for many businesses. For the ill-informed, Social Networking really refers to any way you can connect and interract with other people online.

Some popular social networking sites and services include:

As the most recent issue of Entrepreneur Magazine points out, some different ways you can utilize social networking is joining sites such as MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIN and create a profile as well as user groups for your products. This allows you to let your customers and fans know what offers you will be having, and also give your happy customers an avenue to tout your great products.

You can use Twitter, the microblogging platform to further notify customers of upcoming promotions and offers. Digg and Stumble Upon can help get your site some good visibility (mainly if your site has great content) and Yelp is a great forum for you to post your product to get customer reviews.

Blogging

Both businesses and individuals alike use blogging for social networking, editorials, news, information/How-Tos, promotion, etc…Some blog for profit, some blog for hobby. Either way, the “blogosphere” is a rapidly growing venue for all internet users and at least merits any business owner to consider looking into setting up a blog. Setting up a blog for you and your business’ expertise is a very common practice and, if done effectivly, can define you as an authority in your industry.

If you are interested in blogging, check out ProBlogger.

Email

Many underestimate this tool, however it has proven successful for many companies, bloggers and a variety of other internet marketers. Distributing free information in exchange for the user’s email address is common practice. Marketers then use this email to send information regarding upcoming promotions, new products and newsletters to subscribers.

Remeber, if you use this method, always allow your subscribers the option to unsubscribe, and ensure that you communicate with them that you will not be sharing their information with anybody.

Note: services like Aweber handle a lot of the heavy lifting for managing email subscriptions for you.

Affiliates

This is another large area of internet marketing. Affiliate marketing is basically paying other web sites to act as your sales force. You will pay money to an intermediary/broker (such as Clickbank) and they pay other webmasters to advertise your product.

This can be a very powerful and effective tool and can also help with SEO, since other websites will be linking to you.

“Evangelism”

This term was coined by Skellie in her ProBlogger post, The Truth About Creating a High-traffic Blog. Basically these are referrals to your site. If you have a blog and are a thought leader in your area, you may get a lot of traffic just by referrals by those who follow your content regularly.

Similarly, if you sell high quality goods or services, you may have some customers who will be doing some referring of their own. A perfect example of this is Apple. Whether you love Macs or hate them, they have a strong fan following that recommend these computers to EVERYBODY. This is great marketing in that it is free and effective. To get even more referrals, consider incenting your customers with a small gift for each referral.

These are some basic examples of internet marketing and beginner strategy. Does anyone have any tips or best practices when using these mediums? Does anyone have any other successful mediums that they use when promoting their business online?

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