Every online business needs a marketing plan that will work to spread the word about its goods and services. This has never been so true as the present, especially in crowded marketplaces such as fashion, where good internet marketing will mean the difference between success and failure.

If companies are able to implement a tactical digital strategy that combines slick website development with search engine optimisation (SEO), and the use of services such as Google Ads, they should be well on their way to driving traffic, leads and ultimately sales.

In a bid to outshine competitors, however, some online businesses are turning to unethical practices to lure customers. Indeed, there is no shortage of news stories about unethical business owners paying for social media followers or paying for positive online reviews. Fake reviews have also come under fire in recent news.

Rest assured that if you engage in these practices, you will pay for it in the long run. Search engines and intelligent algorithms are becoming increasingly adept at spotting dodgy marketing schemes and sending them way down the search rankings.

So, how should you build your online business effectively and responsibly? Fortunately, we’ve put together some brief tips to get you started.

1. Choose a respected hosting platform

Choosing a hosting company for your website is almost as important as picking out a safe and comfortable office. If the door is broken and the roof is leaking, your business is doomed from the start.

Some businesses opt for free hosting services. This is usually fine for small companies that do not need to host huge amounts of information. For bigger operations, however, you are better off choosing a provider that can come up with a tailored hosting plan for your needs.

A good provider will take a number of factors into account, including website speed, security, support, IP neighbourhood, and the site’s ability to handle large amounts of traffic. In other words, solid hosting is foundational to the functionality of your site.

2. Create a strategically planned website

When designing your website, you should think strategically about how to tailor it for the needs of potential customers. This includes:

  • A descriptive homepage that informs customers of exactly what you are offering
  • A simple web address that won’t be easily mistyped
  • Clear contact information that is easy to find
  • A site map that is easy to navigate
  • Calls to action that provide clear instructions to customers
  • Genuine testimonials from former customers
  • High-quality content that is updated regularly
  • An aesthetically pleasing design with text that is easy to read

3. Remember also to optimise your site using SEO principles

SEO is one of the best ways to drive organic traffic to your site. Best of all, it is pretty much free. If you don’t have an SEO expert to hand, you should at least ensure the following:

Images are optimised

Image optimisation means adding alt tags, with descriptive and relevant keywords that help search engines figure out what kind of pictures are on your site.

Update content regularly and use keywords sparingly

Search engines love when websites are updated with fresh content on a regular basis, particularly if that content is unique and caters for a relevant demographic. You should also try to incorporate some keywords into your content. Think about what kind of phrases your target demographic will be typing into Google to find services like yours, as well as current trending topics that may be relevant.

It is important, however, not to go overboard with keywords. If you fill too much of your site with them, search engine algorithms may start to send you down the rankings.

Make sure your website works across devices

As the number of people using mobile phones to access the internet increases, you need to make sure that your website is legible and attractive across a number of devices. Sites that fail to work on certain devices will be sent down the search engine rankings.

4. Select relevant social media channels

You need to tailor your social media use according to your customer base. If you run a B2B company that deals with business professionals on a daily basis, for example, it is a good idea to put most of your energy into sites such as LinkedIn. If you’re a retailer looking to appeal to teenagers, however, sites such as Instagram are a much better option.

In the end, it is a good idea to use a number of platforms; as long as you tailor them appropriately.

If using Instagram, beware of unethical practices. Remember that an Instagram story should pass the same ethical tests as a standard advert. In other words, avoid breaching any rules set out by the advertising standards agency.

This means avoiding misogyny, racism, and encouraging dangerous practices, to name only a few things. As this recent story shows, it is all too easy for Instagram stories to be banned and ruin the reputation of a person or business.

5. Learn lessons from Google Penguin and stay on top of its updates

Google Penguin is essentially an update to Google’s ranking algorithm that takes place on a regular basis. In this way, it is important for businesses to stay on top of the changes and make sure they abide by its latest rules. Fortunately, there is information out there to help you adapt to the updates.

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