By Sookie Shuen, Content Manager with Tomorrow-People

The game has changed. The power of the internet means it’s now possible to build a broader and more profitable online audience by carefully applying some specific approaches and techniques. All it takes is confidence and an internet connection.

According to new research from HubSpot, 78% of internet users conduct product research online. This has changed the game for the marketing companies relying on traditional outbound marketing approaches such as print campaigns, TV advertising and telemarketing. The challenge is that these (often costly) approaches are becoming less effective day by day.

Why is traditional marketing becoming less effective? Because instead of listening to traditional marketing messages, consumers are taking an active approach and conducting their own online research about new products and services.

Of course, this begs the question — how can you leverage that new trend for your benefit?

Glad you asked.

How to get discovered #1: Make the link.

Links play a big part in achieving a great search engine ranking. You need to use two types of links:

  • On page: content on your site that links to other ‘relevant’ areas of the site.
  • Off page: content on other sites that links to your website.

Both types of links are useful in enhancing your online presence. Ideally you should use as many as possible. While it is relatively easy to place links, you need to avoid over-using links that aren’t working very effectively. Use services like Link Diagnosis to monitor your ‘off page’ links and SEO Rank Checker to check your website rankings to see how well each link is working for you and adapt your link strategy accordingly.

Think of each link as a reference for your website

Each link is like a reference for your website because people relate to a link according to whether it leads to a site they know and trust. This means that the links you use show how valid your site is – so the better the reference, the more trusted it will be.

The key is to make sure that your links are from relevant websites. One very useful thing to keep in mind is Wikipedia and the way it allows you to begin on one topic and click through to move from one related topic to the next, taking you somewhere very different. Keep this approach in mind and apply it to as many relevant websites as possible.

How to get discovered #2: Spread the word

Your website is now set up to showcase your business and sell the value of your service or product. You have high quality, relevant links. Your site shows up high in the search engine rankings. The next step is to spread the word.

The best place to start is with your blog.

What is a blog?

  • You could define a blog as an online diary which allows you to reach many people.
  • Your blog enables you to share any message or information you want – from thoughts and ideas, to lists of other useful sites and everything in between.
  • Blogs provide a very fast and very convenient way to diversify your site and enhance search engine optimization. Each post, with individual tags, links, and URL, will actively boost your online presence, with the added advantage of giving new web visitors exactly what they want when they arrive on your site.
  • Most blog services also have their own ‘hub’, i.e all their blogs are cataloged under one site, with links to and from thousands of blogs on a similar subject. Being linked to the other blogs builds the presence of your own blog and its potential audience.

Before you start blogging there are some key points to keep in mind:

Four things every new blogger should know

  1. The decision you make about what to put in your blog is fundamental to the success of your digital marketing strategy. Focus on the particular area you want to get known for – then blog anything and everything you can on it.  As long as it’s relevant to you and your business, every post is a brand new advertisement and your readership will grow with every post.
  2. Don’t approach your blog as a sales tool, but as a way to showcase yourself as a helpful source of useful, relevant information.
  3. Add a list of useful links occasionally to build good mutual links with those people you list.
  4. Post a set of ‘top tips’ once in a while – very useful and very easy to spread via word of mouth. On average, companies that blog enjoy 55% more web traffic than those that don’t!

How to get discovered #3: Be sociable.

Getting discovered on the internet is all about information and interaction. You’ve created a source of useful, relevant, well indexed information on your blog. But how do you get people responding to it?

By being sociable – using the different forms of social media like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Useful content on the web is very easy to find – and once found, it will get traced back to you.

Social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter combine content and conversation. They bring your post together with a potential audience of thousands of people – if not more!

This interaction starts with you. Respond to comments. Answer questions. Offer ideas and tips. This shows you as a friendly business, rather than one simply trying to sell. Once someone does need your service, they’ll already be aware of you as a business they can trust.  This is how being sociable can help create an audience which then creates leads and customers.

How to get discovered #4: Keep tracking and adapting.

Getting recognized online involves many potential different resources and platforms. So how do you see where new leads are actually coming from and which areas need improving?

Here are a few helpful ways to track and adapt your digital marketing strategy:

  • Most services offer their own tracking software for monitoring and managing leads while most blog hosts will have figures for visits, clicks, and popular landing pages.
  • Google Analytics provides a valuable breakdown of web visitors and on site behavior.

Whichever approach you use, use it consistently and be open to changing your approach according to what you find out along the way. It’s a never-ending list — and with that in mind, here’s an additional list of your top ten tips for getting discovered.

About the Author: Sookie Shuen is the community manager at Tomorrow People, a leading UK inbound marketing consultancy. You can read more of Sookie’s content on inbound marketing by subscribing to the Zoober Inbound Marketing blog here. You can also find her on Google+ and Twitter.