Good Internet marketing is vital to the success of your business. More people are using their smartphones and their computers to find information, including to research businesses and to buy products. People are more likely to learn about your business from a Google search than they are to learn about it from a TV commercial. Times they are changing and if you want to connect with your target audience, you are going to have to develop a strong Internet marketing strategy.

Some parts of Internet marketing are just instinct and natural talent, but other parts you can learn. Here are some of the fundamentals of successful Internet marketing in today’s business environment:

Incorporate SEO

SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it includes a series of techniques aimed at getting your site to appear near the top of Google search results when someone looks for information related to your niche. To start, you will need to identify the keywords that your target audience is using when they search.

Then you need to incorporate those keywords into your page content, page title, meta descriptions, image captions, and more. SEO also involves improving your page load time, properly structuring your site for clear and easy navigation, reducing your bounce rate, getting the right links to your site, and much more.

Because SEO can be so complex and time-consuming, most businesses choose to hire local SEO services to take care of the work for them. A local professional can overhaul your site so that you start seeing results quickly and without investing as many of your resources. A professional will also help you target the right niche and region, whether you are trying to reach a global, national, or local market.

Focus on measurable results

Marketing often focuses on just getting the word out about your business, improving your reputation, or better defining your brand identity. These are all excellent goals, but you need to have a way to measure them to know if your marketing plan is actually working and you are getting a return on your investment. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your money and hoping for the best.

With any marketing plan you create, make sure you have a way to measure your results. If you are looking to increase brand awareness, you might look at a number of ads viewed or clicked, a number of brand mentions on social media, or increased calls and email subscriptions.

It’s always easier when you have concrete goals, like to increase sales, but there are ways to measure success even for seemingly intangible goals like improving brand reputation. Be as specific as you can be with your goals as well, such as increasing sales by 10 percent, rather than generally increasing sales.

Offer value

Consumers are smarter than ever, and they know a marketing pitch or an ad a mile away. They don’t want to be sold to, and they will do everything they can to avoid such pitches. To entice them to view your ad or to learn more about your product or service, you have to offer your target audience some kind of value. In some cases, value is just an entertaining ad, but usually, you need to do a little more.

A great way to give your audience value is to offer them something for free. You can give them a free product when they buy, a free white paper when they sign up for your mailing list, or just free information on your blog so that they stick around your website longer and learn more about your business.

Other freebies can include instructional videos on YouTube, photo tutorials, online courses, and ebooks. You can also provide special discounts or exclusive access in exchange for contact information, email subscription, or some other action.

The key to successful online marketing is to find your right audience, to give them a reason to learn more about your company, and to measure the results of your efforts to ensure that you are on the right track. Following these simple “rules” will help you to grow your business and to minimize wasteful spending. You’ll lay the groundwork for a successful business that will continue growing for many years to come.

Founding Editor @Alltopstartups, Contributor @Entrepreneur, Columnist @Inc. Magazine and Curator at Postanly (his free weekly digest of the best life and career improvement posts on the web. Subscribe for free.

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