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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

Ten ways to improve your search rankings

Confused about all the conflicting advice on search engine optimisation (SEO)? Danielle Haley, director of Indy Consultancy outlines ten simple ways to improve your search ranking that you can act on today

When it comes to discovering how to improve your rankings on any of the major search engines, there is a plethora of information out there, but unfortunately a lot of it is unfounded or frankly untrue.

It can be overwhelming to try and make sense of all this information; even experienced SEO experts sometimes struggle to know where they should spend their time and energy for the best results.

Here are ten simple yet effective ways to improve your search engine positions to send more traffic to your website and generate more money from online sources.

1. Post quality content …

Content is king, but only if it's quality content. Google simply wants to deliver the most helpful content possible for any given search query; its goal is not to rank the website who can best "hack" the system by publishing spun content and gathering high volumes of spammy links.

If your articles offer a lot of value to the reader, your copy will naturally receive more shares, more links, more referrals and ultimately a great presence in the organic listings. It all starts with writing something worth reading.

2. …and post it regularly

If you only get time to write quality content once in a blue moon, that's OK - but you'll see the best results from posting good articles as often as you can. Create your own (realistic) publishing schedule and stick to it.

3. Research trumps all

Search engines can be oversaturated with bloggers and companies that are all vying for top positions. There is so much competition, you may wonder if it's even possible to get onto the first page for your chosen keywords, never mind hit that elusive yet lucrative number one spot.

Tools such as Google's Keyword Planner and SEMrush will help you find out how many people actually search for your targeted key phrases on a monthly basis in any given area, and from here you can work out how valuable they will be to your campaign.

A few minutes of keyword research could mean the difference between a mediocre campaign and one that drives a seriously impressive return on investment.

4. Focus your attention on whatever works

The simplest formula for success in any endeavour is to take whatever works and double down on it. What does this mean for you? If you find a keyword or a selection of keywords that work well for your business, re-focus your efforts on the terms that are working. It's important to test new approaches, but don't make major changes to a successful strategy if you don't need to.

5. Optimise your meta-data

Many people forget to optimise the meta-data on their web pages. It's simply not enough to write a great piece of content and expect the search engines to immediately understand its purpose and its relevancy - you need to make it absolutely clear to the crawler bots what your page is about by spending some time creating clear, concise meta titles and descriptions. Well written titles and descriptions also entice searchers to click through to your page.

6. Write headlines for both readers and search engines

80% of people will only read your article's headline. If your headline isn't captivating enough, they'll click away from the rest of your content. A good headline that's been crafted for the readers but also appeals to the search engine bots with the clever use of keyword variations will work best.

7. Get quality links

Search engines assume that the more your content is linked to across the web, the better that content is. But if you try and fabricate your content's popularity by acquiring links on dodgy, low value websites, you could be doing your search presence more harm than good. One link from a relevant, high quality website is worth any number of low quality links from sites that have been built purely for linking purposes.

8. Generate links from lots of different sources

If you want to rank well, you can't focus on just one type of link - adding yourself to multiple directories, for example, will only get you so far. Instead, get links from a wide variety of sources, including blogs, forums, blog comments, social platforms and even associated companies' websites.

9. The turtle wins the race

Regardless of the strategy you eventually choose, you need to be the turtle and not the hare. It takes time to build up a bank of quality content and generate the right kinds of links to your website. Consistent work will always trump irregular surges of effort from your SEO team.

10. Be social

Search engines fully understand that social media commands the attention of today's web users, and they do take into account how often your content is linked to from a social platform such as Facebook or Twitter. Get active on social media and use it to build a strong following - the likes, shares and links will come naturally.

Written by Danielle Haley, director of Indy Consultancy

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