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A marketing strategy tells you what to say, how to say it and who to say it to in order to make more sales. Our guide to the basics.

Market your business online - from your website to social networking, advertising, search engine optimisation, email marketing and more.

The basics you need to know about raising your business profile through advertising, and how to make sure your campaigns are successful.

Focusing on taking care of your existing customers could be much better for your bottom line than chasing new business. The basics of customer care.

No business can survive without selling. Our overview of planning your sales strategy and recruiting, training and managing sales staff.

Get the basics right - our quick guide to the main types of market research and how to get the information you need no matter what your budget.

Direct marketing is ideal for small businesses as it's highly targeted, cost-effective and simple to DIY. Our guide to how to get started.

Start here - find out how attending and displaying at exhibitions and events can benefit your business, and learn how to build your network.

PR

The basic things you need to know about PR for your business, building relationships with the media and managing the impact of publicity.

Six SEO mistakes you can't afford to make

SEO is a fast-moving discipline, and even some techniques that were once widespread have now become somewhat toxic. Are you making any of these six SEO errors? Danielle Haley of Freelance SEO Essex explains

SEO continues to be one of the most confusing processes for small businesses and it means that managers often make ill-informed decisions. Worse still, there are many SEO providers who continue to use outdated methods that, at best, do nothing to improve ranking, and at worst can result in a search penalty from Google.

Here are some of the most common SEO mistakes to avoid.

1. Bad backlinking

Gone are the days when all you had to do to rank well was purchase and place thousands of links pointing to your homepage. Google's search algorithm is now able to identify suspicious linking practices, and when it discovers unnatural links a penalty will be applied to a site.

Link building should form part of your ongoing web marketing strategy, rather than being considered a single process that you purchase when you launch your website.

2. Poor web experience

How a website is built and managed is as important for SEO as gaining good quality, natural links. Websites that are stuffed with keyword-heavy doorway pages in an attempt to rank on multiple terms are likely to be penalised by Google.

You should create every page on your website with your customers in mind. Each page should serve a purpose for a person, rather than purely be designed to game the search engines. Doorway pages and keyword stuffing tactics will, eventually, be penalised.

3. Failing to promote your brand

Many businesses still rely on word-of-mouth marketing and it is therefore vital to work on developing a strong brand. If your business does not rank well for its own name, or for the name of key products and services, it will struggle to win positions for more generic service or product-related keywords.

4. Lack of social

Although a strong social media presence does not have a direct impact on search engine performance, ignoring social media in favour of SEO can result in many lost opportunities.

People are using sites such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to discover and interact with businesses, and this can help get your website mentioned in other places, which will benefit your search ranking. Build a branded Facebook page and Twitter profile so that people will find your businesses in all search engines, not just Google.

5. Duplicate content

Publishing duplicate content is one of the easiest mistakes to make. Many people distribute their content without any understanding of its implications. If you allow people to publish your articles and product descriptions on their websites - and these sites are more established than your own - the other sites will rank higher for your article.

This is especially true of product descriptions. If you sell a service or product that is also sold by other companies, you should still write unique product descriptions. This not only means that you have unique content on your site, but also allows you to tailor your sales message to meet the needs of your specific market.

6. Keyword stuffing

Many businesses believe that if they add their most important keywords to every page on their website, the site will rank better. This practice actually has the opposite effect.

As a general rule, Google will only show one page for a specific keyword in the search results. If there is more than one page, the lesser pages can negatively affect the SEO of the better page. This is known as 'cannibalisation' in the SEO industry and it is something that affects many websites, even those run by some of the best digital marketers.

Google's quality guidelines are constantly evolving, and to maintain a healthy search presence, best practices must be met. A good SEO campaign requires a combination of website optimisation, a unified content strategy and targeted web marketing to improve social and search engine presence.

Written by Danielle Haley from Freelance SEO Essex.

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