Your New Year Internet Plan - Part 1

Written on the 16 January 2008 by Tracey Voyce

The start of a new year is always exciting there are so many opportunities and adventures ahead.  When it comes to business, many of these opportunities are now online.  So why not make 2008 the year that you really take advantage of what the Internet has to offer your business?  

Using the internet in your business can be daunting, because there are so many different things you can do.  So, to help you get started we've put together a month-by month guide of simple, cost-effective strategies and tools for you to use.  These strategies cover a number of areas, from improving your website, to online advertising, to email marketing and each one will help you get amazing results from the internet.

All you need to do is a set aside some time at the start of each month to get each strategy underway, and then a few hours here and there to monitor each strategy to make sure you are getting the best possible results from it.  So what are you waiting for?  Start January's strategy today.  To make sure you stick to the plan, open up your calendar right now and schedule some time to spend on each strategy.  This way, you'll never forget and you will always have time for it.

January Set up Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free program created by Google that gives you detailed statistics about your website traffic.  It gives you information about the visitors to your site, page data, keywords, advertising (it can be linked to your Google Adwords account) and referrals.  The data that this tool collects allows you to gain a better understanding of your target market and therefore improve your marketing and advertising campaigns.  

Google Analytics is a valuable tool for any business that wants to maximise their website and marketing, and best of all, it's completely free.  Setting it up early in the year means you will have more time to get results from it and also that you will have lots of data to analyse at the end of the year.

Get a step-by-step guide to setting up Google Analytics here.

February Research your competitors

This strategy is not strictly an Internet tactic, but it will help you improve your online presence.  Just like with your bricks and mortar business, you need to stand out from your competitors the web in order to achieve success.  Firstly you will need to research what your competitors are doing online is their website a basic brochure site, or is it professional, functional and interactive? Do they have an email newsletter?  Do they advertise on search engines? A good idea is to create a spreadsheet and rate each competitor on different areas.  Also look at businesses on other regions/countries and other businesses that have the same target market at yours to see what they are doing on their websites, such as ways they keep their customers longer and how they streamine their business using the Internet - you can use these ideas to add value to your own site.

Then use the information that you have collected to improve your own website and marketing.  For example, if they don't sell their products on their website, you could set up a shopping cart on your website to take advantage of that niche.  Dedicate this whole month to doing your competitor research, because you will use this in March's strategy.

March Review your website

So you know everything there is to know about your competitors now it's time to make the changes to your website to put you at the top of the heap.  Before you get started with the specific strategies, you should ask yourself a few simple questions about your website:

  • Is it achieving any purpose in your business (sales, leads, loyalty building)?
  • Is it a functional website that actively improves your business (or basically just an online brochure)?
  • Can you update it yourself without paying or waiting for your website developer?
  • Does your site meet minimum usability standards?

If you answered no to any of these questions, you should seriously consider getting a new website because you are missing out on the full potential of the Internet.  Whether you stick with your current website or get a new one, the next step is the same analyse the challenges and opportunities for your website in line with your business objectives.  Think about issues that you have with your website and ways you can improve them.  For example, if you have an email newsletter and no one signs up for it, you should redesign the sign-up box, move it or change the text above it. 

For opportunities you should go back to your online business anlaysis take advantage of areas that your competitors were weak in.  For example, if their site is cluttered and confusing, spend some time simplifying yours and making it easy to read and navigate so customers prefer to use your site and adding quality news and articles to make your site engaging.  A good website is the most important part of your online presence so make sure you get yours right.

April Conduct a keyword analysis

A keyword analysis involves finding out what words your target market are using on search engines like Google when they conduct a search related to your business.  Once you know the keywords that people are using (from your analysis, and also your website statistics and Google Analytics), you can use them throughout your website to ensure your site gets listed in the search results.  For example, the owner of a dress shop may find out that her target market search for things like "summer dresses", 'evening gown" and "cocktail dress", so she needs to include these words throughout her content.

The best way to conduct a keyword analysis is to use a free online tool like  These tools allow you to type in a term (like "dress") and you will be given a list of relevant terms and the number of people that have searched for them.  This will give you an idea of the most popular keywords in your market so you can then use them in your website copy (see May strategy).  Make sure you research very thoroughly so you get a deep insight into the search habits of your customers.

May Get your site optimised

In order to get the best possible results from your website, it needs to be optimised for search engines.  Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is big business at the moment because so many people use search engines like Google to find products and services and to make a purchase decision.  SEO is all about making your site search engine friendly so it gets ranked higher in the free main search results, giving you more exposure to potential customers.  

There are on-page and off-site factors that can control in order to improve your site's optimisation.  On-page factors include the quality of your content, the use of keywords and your site structure.  Off-page factors include the age of your site and the number of inbound links.  This is only a very basic overview of SEO.  You can find some more detailed articles here.  However, unless you are an SEO expert with lots of spare time, you should probably get a professional to optimise your site, because it is a complex and time-consuming process.  Check out the SEO services that Bloomtools offers here.

June Add yourself to online directories

Online directories are a great way to increase the traffic to your website and to get more customers.  They are also a great way to get other websites to link to yours, which boosts your search engine ranking.  There are thousands of directories on the Internet, from general business directories to geographical directories, not to mention the multitude of special interest ones (everything from weddings to environmentally friendly businesses).  It's simply a matter of doing your research and choosing the ones that are most likely to get results for you.

A Google search for 'online directories' will show you most of the main ones like Yellow Pages and HotFrog that you should be part of.  The next step is to search for location and industry specific directories that are relevant to your business.  You may have to pay to list in some of these directories, so make sure you set a budget and stick to it.  Also, if you write articles, get them listed in article directory sites like Digg and if you write a blog, get that to appear on blog listing sites like Bloglines.  This will expose so many more potential customers to your brand and increase your online presence.

Good luck with trying these strategies in your business.  Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.  Good luck and stay tuned for Part 2 - July to December.

Tracey VoyceAuthor:Tracey Voyce
About: With more than 30 years business management experience, Tracey Voyce is the CEO of Bloomtools. Tracey has owned and managed many businesses and spent several years training and motivating coaches at the world’s largest business coaching franchise.
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