Is it as hard for you to believe it’s 2012 as it is for me? Where did last year go? I’m pretty sure someone stole a few months from me… At Level343, we spend every possible second we can squeeze in the last month discussing our SEO and marketing strategies for the upcoming year; every year for the past four has started out with a bang and kept on coming. We realized early on that we had to be prepared before January 1, because we wouldn’t have much time after that.
C’est la vie, non? We spend all year providing for clients and – at least for companies without dedicated in-house SEOs and marketers– have to squeeze our own optimization and marketing into brief moments of time.
Do You Know Where Your Business Is?
What do you do to prepare for the upcoming year? Or do you do anything? Oooo – here’s a big question: have you taken the time to catch up with your business yet?
What I mean is, when you spend all year going “balls to the wall” as we’ve often been accused of (or complimented for, depending on who’s speaking), you can easily lose track of whether your business has grown, shrunk or anything else.
You run a small business. Your clientele are small business owners; you have a single employee, and it’s you. Your prices are low enough that “competitive” is putting it nicely. Your small business clients are nickel and diming you; yes, your prices are low, but never low enough to suit them.
It’s January 2011, and you’ve recently realize you’re tired of running this type of business. You’re going to raise your prices and hope someone bites. They do, and you end up with a slightly better set of clientele; you raise your prices again, and it happens again. Next thing you know, your clients no longer ask how much it costs; they just want to know that you’ll do your job.
Throughout the year, you market your company. When you have time, you go in and update necessary content to reflect any service and pricing changes. Maybe you started a blog; maybe you wrote some guest blogs to build your authority. Maybe you made a lot more industry contacts. Whatever it is, you’re busier than you’ve ever been.
Now it’s the end of 2011. Does your business still reflect your service offerings or vice versa? You learn more as time goes on; is this evident on your site?
Matching Your Site to Your Business Growth
It’s the beginning of a new year, and what are people doing? Making and/or dismissing New Year’s resolutions, right? Well, here’s a resolution you might be able to stick to. Resolve to match your site to your business growth.
Does your site design match your maturity?
Many optimizers learn code out of self preservation (full optimization, especially on the technical side, does take some coding know-how to achieve). Either that or they don’t want to have to hire someone to do the coding. If you created your own website and you’re more of a “learn on your own” than a “trained” website coder, there’s always room for improvement.
Can you do better now?
Your website, as most of you know, reflects your business. Now, some have said that design isn’t that big a deal; I’m of a different mind. It’s not everything, maybe, but it does make a difference. Look at your site now, using your growing design/coding skills. Does it still reflect your skill set, or does it look immature to you?
If it looks immature, don’t just jump in and start changing things:
- Take your time.
- Make a to-do list.
- Get a clear idea of what you want the new page or site to look like.
- What are you ultimately looking to achieve with these changes? (more sign ups, emails etc.)
- Create a mock up.
- Develop on a testing site. (test, test, test – remember, browser issues can be a real drag)
- Ensure all changes are working well before implementation on the live site.
- Take a look at your raw data (if you don’t have a specific analytics program, your own server probably has analytics in place).
Does your marketing content match your skill set and services?
What generally happens is that you make “quick updates” throughout the year. Unfortunately, this can cause you to lose track of your service layout, site infrastructure and ease of use. If you’ve made any changes – no matter how small they might have seemed at the time – you need to look over your site content again. Ask yourself:
- Has my site infrastructure changed?
- Have I lost track of the navigational structure?
- Is it easier/harder to find important pages?
- Did I take care of any 404s along the way?
- Does my content now reflect my writing skills and service offerings?
- Do I have clear call to actions (CTAs), or have they been buried?
Again, take your time and create that necessary to-do list. Prioritize, and turn your TDL into a step-by-step process for updating your site.
Have you ignored avenues of marketing?
Throughout the year, you have thousands of decisions to make for marketing your services. How many have you dismissed because you didn’t have the time, money or inclination at that moment? Take the time now, if possible. If not, squeeze the moments in and make a list of potential marketing venues.
- Did you receive requests for a guest blog post, or a guest post for your blog?
- Have you been asked for interviews?
- Have there been marketing opportunities that looked interesting?
- Have you heard about platforms you could use, but haven’t had time to explore?
Think about all the things you’ve been contacted about, offered, or thought of throughout the year. If any of them are plausible now, consider adding them to your marketing efforts for 2012.
Building Your SEO and Marketing Company One Month at a Time
If you resolve to update your site, services, and marketing efforts for 2012, remember to take it one month – or even one day – at a time. Like most online efforts, it takes time to make lasting changes (i.e. ones you won’t want to remove a week from now). Even when client work has slowed down, force yourself to take it a step at a time – otherwise, you can miss important steps that need to be done.
Now that I’ve outlined some possibilities, is there anything you specifically like to do for your SEO or marketing company to prepare for the next year?