Organizations & Associations

If possible, use organizations and associations to help promote your website or digital marketing efforts.  These groups have spent many years developing their own branding and websites, and have gained a following that is not only substantial in size – but composed of highly targeted individuals – who no doubt have interests like your own.  If you’re able to get a link (or even better, a profile) on one of these sites that links back to your website – you’ll have the benefit of a quality link, from the organization or association that has high-value, established trust & history with your target audience.


Chamber of Commerce

Your local chamber is a quality source for link building opportunity.  Don’t have a membership?  Well, this might help justify the cost – as most members will search the chamber for service/product providers in their area, more often that advertising or other methods.  Apply for a membership by calling your local chamber for information.  Ask the representative on the phone about building a member page, or providing contact information for your chamber member listing page.  Ask them if you’re allowed to add a link to your website on the page as well, as this can prove valuable for SEO purposes.  If you remember in the SEO section of this book, we described the ‘gold-dust’ principal – and the chamber websites are absolutely littered with gold dust.  Give them a link, and the chamber visitors will track some of that value back to your property!


Local Business Organizations

When you are searching for your business online, you’ll no doubt run across an organization or two, especially if you’re in a highly competitive industry.  If you’re a lawyer, doctor, zoologist, dentist, construction worker…  there are more organizations than there are individual industries.  There are a wide variety to choose from – and if you’re able to qualify for a membership (some might have strict rules/regulations to qualify), you may be able to create a page full of contact information, details on your services/product, and (most important) your website address.  Use this link to your advantage!  Build out a page just for your organization – add content that your organization would be looking for, such as discounts, details for other members, and information that might pertain to a fellow organization person.  Adding this information to a specific page will help build up that page for other people who could potentially be looking for a service/product provider who is also a member of a certain organization.

The potential costs of membership to an organization should be weighed against the benefits (this sounds very simple, but is in fact a completely overwhelming chore).  Think about any potential traffic that you could gather from the organization, along with any opportunities/’extracurricular’ activities that you might be able to attend and hand out business cards.  Think about social events, ‘grand openings’, or members-only events that you could visit and gain some interest in your services or product.  If you could calculate the sales potential from these events, and come up with a percentage of actual sales from the events, you could effectively come up with a ‘conversion rate’ for the organization.  Each organization could have different quantitative values, so it’s important to not lump a more ‘social/community/education’ organization with one that is more ‘business/sales’ oriented.  Choose your organization wisely, and think of the possibilities for marketing your business (besides link building) in your advertising ventures.



If you have the chance to take part in local meetups, you should attend.  These meetups can be centered around a discussion, small business growth, or other interests.  I would highly suggest you attend a couple meetups that have to do with digital marketing, or how to market your small business.  These meetups are usually informal, don’t have a very structured or rigid timeline, but allow for the attendees to speak up and voice their opinion or thoughts on any number of topics.  Usually, the topic is pre-chosen for a meetup – so you don’t have to worry about being steered off into left field by someone who wants to hijack the conversation.  Besides being a great place to learn about the topic in general, it’s a great way to network with people who are working in the same industry – and are willing to work together towards the common goal.


Business Cards

Bring business cards and some basic marketing material to any events you attend, and distribute them to anyone you meet.  You never know the next time that someone you meet will have a question about your business or skills!  Also, make sure to collect business cards from people you meet so that you can call on their services/skills when necessary.  Business cards are a very inexpensive way to show that you are serious about your business, and that you understand the worth of networking offline.  I know, this is a digital marketing book – but sometimes it’s nice to think about some of the traditional methods that are still working as they have for many years.  A well printed, cleanly presented business card – along with a good handshake are still two of the best ways to gain respect from a potential customer.  Next on that list…   a clean website, and a solid digital marketing presentation.

Business Listings

Online business listings are an important part of local search engine optimization. Creating links that lead back your website, in conjunction with consistent NAP citations, raises your business’ online visibility and signals to Google that your website is relevant and trustworthy.  The most important business listing online, is your Google My Business Page – which can show up alongside (not just among) the search engine results in Google.  This page information can leap off the page


Fill Out Your Google My Business Page

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to boost your local search ranking is to register with Google My Business.

Login to your Google My Business Page:


To get the most out of the listing, fill out all the fields, including your address, phone number and business hours. (You get bonus points for adding photos of your location and staff to personalize your profile even further.)

Examples of Business Listing Sources

When Google crawls the web for search results, it looks for mentions of your business’ name, address and phone number (NAP). Even slight variations, like an abbreviated street address or alternate phone number, can confuse Google, so it’s important to make sure that your NAP is consistent in every citation, on or off your website.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Local search is a powerful way for small business owners to reach new customers and generate leads. When a customer uses the internet to research products or services, they’re not just looking for any business—they’re looking for a business in their neighborhood or city. And you want to make sure your business is at the top of those local search results.


Although we don’t recommend any attempt at advanced techniques in this book, due to the amount of regular changes that happen in the world of SEO – we will give you enough information to understand exactly what it is that your provider is offering.  To properly juggle the tasks necessary to accomplish your SEO goals – you should think of all the moving parts involved.


What is SEO?

SEO doesn’t have to be confusing.  Just think of the separate parts, and you’ll have a good idea of how we manipulate the search engine results – but altering parts of your website.


Separate parts of the Search Process

  • Browser (the software you use to access the internet – not to be confused with a search engine, which is a website you visit to get search results. By default, many browsers are set to either Google, Bing, or MSN when you first open them – which is the cause of the confusion.  The following are browsers:
    • Google Chrome
    • Microsoft Edge
    • Mozilla Firefox
    • Microsoft Internet Explorer
    • Safari
  • Search Engine
    • Google
    • Bing
    • Yahoo
    • DuckDuckGo
  • Search Engine Results
  • Search Engine Results Page


I’ll describe each piece individually, along with how they all fit together in general.



Your browser is the software installed on your computer that allows you to access the internet. When you open the software, many times the first thing you see is the search engine – which can be confusing to some users.  Although we won’t go into much detail in this book – there are many great resources online that you can review to learn more about the differences.


Search Engine

The search engine’s purpose – is to go out on the internet, and provide ‘results’ for what you would like to find.  If you type in a request, the search engine will check it’s ‘index’ – and post the results for you on your computer.  Although these results aren’t 100% live, they reflect a lot of work that is completed by the search engine to properly ‘index’ billions of search results – and rank them in proper order depending on the search request.


Search Engine Results

The results page is the output of a variety of equations and algorithms built with the express purpose of delivering the best (right) content every time, and to penalize people who try to cheat the system.

For search engines to be relevant – they need to continually produce quality results, or a competitor will start to take advantage – and grab more traffic for their search services.  At the advent of the internet – there were many search engines, but with it’s simple interface – Google jumped to the top of the list, and became the search engine of choice for nearly a decade now.


On-Page Metrics

Each page of your website could have up to 20 different variables, and if you have 20 pages on your website – you have a total of 400 pieces of “on-page” information that must be individually altered and then measured, then re-altered, and measure again.  The measurements happen once per month – but there are times when the results from search engines don’t publicly release until 3+ months have passed.  Any changes that you’ve done to your website must be meticulously documented – so that you can return to the information after several months have passed.


Off-Page Metrics

When you look at your website, any visible (or invisible, coded) elements are considered on-page.  Every other metric, whether you’re measuring the number/volume of links from other websites, links from social networks, reviews in Google/Yelp/Yahoo/etc., or considering the relation between government or organization websites – you’re looking at “Off-Page Metrics”.  These measurements are a lot more difficult to control, as you could be linked to a ‘bad’ website – that has a miserable reputation, and could be in a different country.  Removing that link would require a lot of time and effort by someone who doesn’t have experience in the procedures necessary to successfully complete the removal.  You could have an article written about your company that doesn’t have a link to your website, and there’s a chance that you may be able to contact the author to request a link to a specific page on your website.  You could ensure that each post you send out on social networks has a link to information on your own website, which can help as well.



A link from your website to another might be ‘shoving your customer out the door’ – but if you create the link correctly, you are helping your customer – along with boosting your ranking in search engines.  Remember that search engines just want their users to get to the right information as quickly as possible.

If a website is ranking well, and you send a visitor from your website to the higher-ranking website – search engines see this connection, and the ‘trust-factor’ is boosted on your website.  If a high-ranking website links to you – the link also adds trust.  An easy way to think of this connection, is to imagine your website being covered by gold dust.  When one of your visitors enters your website – they gather a bit of that gold dust on their shoes.  If you send them to another website, they track that gold dust over to the other website – increasing the value of that transaction.  If you want to gain more gold dust at your website – all you need to do, is increase the volume of links at high ranking websites!  That increases the potential of your website visitors bringing as much of that gold dust back to your website as possible.  But, don’t forget what search engines are looking for…  they want users to find the right information!  So, when you create a link on a social network, business listing, or other high ranking website, make sure to link to a page with information that will help your brand-new, gold dust tracking customer!


How does SEO effect your business?

Well, if the internet is a library – the search engine is the librarian, and your customers are the people asking the librarian to find some information for them.  Your website is simply a single book in this massive library.  I mean, every website in the world is a separate book – so you can imagine it takes a while for the librarians to read YOUR book, along with every change to every ‘book’ on the planet.



With social networking, people posting pictures of their meals, and altogether too many selfies online, the library is growing out of control.


The librarians are extremely busy, sorting this information – and cataloging an endless flow of data for search engines to work properly.

When you simplify the overall situation to these small pieces, I can easily explain how each part can be used to help market your company online.  “How do you get to the top of Google?” you might ask, and I can easily say:

“The librarian has to effectively read your book, take notes, and verify pieces of information to be ready the next time someone asks for related information.”

If the librarian was an actual person, your website would never hit the top of the list.  At the rate of data expansion in 2017, and forecasted into the future
– it would never even reach a search engine at all.  There is no possible way for humans to sort this information on time.  Fighting against this stream, you should ensure your website has the proper elements to be quickly read and understood by the search engines.

These parts are defined/described as:

  • Title Tag (Book Title)
  • Heading (Headline/Chapter Name)
  • Content (What is the book ‘about?’)
  • Images (Are there pictures?)
  • Meta Description (Short description in dust cover)
  • Geographic Location (Where?)
  • Update Frequency (when was the book published last?)


These are a few of the factors that are used by search engines to sort and rank your website, but this list goes much further – with nearly 200 factors involved in the detailed listing for your website on the search engine results page.

Domain Registration

Simply put – your domain name is one of the most important pieces of your online presence that you can control.  If you don’t have control, or aren’t sure if you have control or not – please read this section to learn more about your domain, and how it relates to your business ventures online.



Your domain name is like your tags on your car, in that you must pay for the ‘rights’ to use them per year.  You never truly ‘own’ your tags/license plate – as it is the property of the state in which you live.  You can register the tags for multiple years, and the same goes for your domain name.  But don’t go sending a check to the department of licensing for your domain name – as that would be taking this analogy too far!   As a matter of fact, don’t ever send a paper check to a ‘domain registrar’.  If you aren’t on their own website – paying with a secure connection, don’t trust them.  Call the domain registrar directly on the phone if you must – but don’t pay for a domain or domain extension without going to your registrar’s website, or talking to a representative over the phone.


Domain Registrars

In the online world, the procurement of domain names is handled by a ‘registrar’ company, who will help the process of purchasing the rights to any domain name.  They check if a domain is already registered – and if the domain you want is available, will file the proper paperwork to hold the domain in your name for a designated amount of time.

Companies that will handle your domain registration have a variety of services available, many of which we’ll cover in other chapters of this book – but for building your online presence, we really want to focus on simply purchasing the domain name itself.


Domain registration companies:

  • GoDaddy (
  • 1&1 (
  • BlueHost (
  • Namecheap (
  • com (
  • Gandi (


Each provider has different prices – for different periods of time.  There are some that will offer deep discounts to first time purchasers, but will raise pricing when you go to resign/continue registration of your domain the next year.  Average price for a ‘.com’ domain name shouldn’t be above $20/year, so if your registrar is charging more – there could be an obvious reason…


Domain Auctions

Since the dawn of the internet, there have been ‘poachers’ who purchase dirt-cheap domain names, knowing that someday – somewhere, there is a person who will want a domain – and will be willing to spend a little more money to gain the ‘rights’ to use it.  To go back to my ‘vehicle tags’ analogy, it’s like acquiring ‘vanity plates’ – in that there are quite a few people who might want “2FAST4U” – so someone buys up the rights quickly, and places the ‘rights’ to that domain back online for a raised price.  When the domain owner registers the domain initially, they send a message back to the registrar stating that they would like to auction the domain – and for the time being, will put a ‘this domain is being auctioned’ webpage in place.  Anyone who is interested in purchasing the rights to the domain must contact the registrar to organize the transaction.  If you find a domain that has an outrageous price tag – this is most likely the reason, but don’t be discouraged…  just search for something similar that you can use for your business.


Domain Name Ideas / Research

When researching a name to purchase – there aren’t going to be very many ‘.com’ names remaining that are short enough to explain to someone on the phone without some sort of misspelling or intentional (some people call it clever) misspelling.  I don’t agree with intentional misspelling, as it can confuse your potential customer – and if they accidentally spell the name ‘correctly’, they are going to be visiting another website, possibly owned by a direct competitor.  The value of a ‘.com’ is gained in search engine results (instant boost over a ‘.net’ or ‘.biz’ address), in simplicity for your customers – but there is another value that isn’t seen often – in that you don’t need to use your full address all the time!

Options for Do-It-Yourself Website Design

Website Option 1: If you have the time and patience to handle the website design yourself, by all means – go for it!  It’s a very good experience – and you could be very glad that you took the initiative to get it done.  If you doubt that you have the skills, patience, or time necessary to handle the project – or are simply too busy to get it finished (or started, for that matter) – reach out to a local web designer, and visit with them about helping for a small fee.  Establish your budget – and work within those limits.

Website Option 2: If you have a small budget, but are concerned about doing the work yourself – you should reach out to someone you trust  (either a local small business, a friend of the family, or another resource) to get it moving for you.  This also goes for small businesses who have a website online, but are disappointed with the service that they have received from a DIY provider.  If you try to get answers from your provider – but they reply with shady answers, or the answers they provide appear to be purposefully vague or overly complicated – it might be time to tell them to ‘dumb it down’ a bit, or you’ll have to look at another provider.

Website Option 3: If your business depends on leads from your website – it’s very wise to think of your website as an investment. If you’ve already started on the road to building your website, with little information from a professional – please, stop and contact someone who can get the job done for you.  When so much is riding on such a small investment – it doesn’t make sense to try and accomplish the website yourself, especially when you can get all the metrics/analytics from the website – as handled by a professional.

Positives & Negatives of Do-It-Yourself

It seems like Do-it-Yourself companies are sprouting up overnight, with new creative names – and attractive ‘template’ based designs to choose from.  These companies advertise the ‘easy way’ to get your idea online – and for the most part, they are right.  You can have a website online in as little as ten minutes for most of the providers listed in this section.

Examples of companies that provide DIY solutions:

  • Wix
  • Squarespace
  • GoDaddy Website Builder
  • Yodle
  • Weebly
  • Yext
  • Vistaprint


The issues with DIY aren’t seen directly – as the presentation by their marketing teams are highly focused on the benefits, and gloss-over the negatives – coating them in candy, so that you see them as a positive.  You don’t need to worry about purchasing a domain name! We’ve got you handled! So, easy! What they don’t mention – is that there are a variety of issues you could run across while using one of these providers, but I’ll go ahead and list some positives and negatives I’ve ran across during the last decade:

  • POSITIVE Ownership – You are in control of your website, and don’t have to worry about what will happen to your data, pictures, writing, and in most cases – you have a (somewhat) easy to navigate portal to edit the website. You don’t have to worry about ownership much – because you are paying someone else to own it for you.  They have to guarantee the website will be available 100% of the time, and you have the right to drop the website completely – and go with a different provider.  For the most part – all you have to do, is worry about the price and length of contract.  They will handle everything else for you!
  • NEGATIVE Ownership – if you use one of the services above, make sure that you own the domain and content that you put on the website before you sign a contract. Future ‘you’ will be glad you asked, as you may develop a great website that is mobile-ready, responsive, full of fantastic content – and the provider will then hit you with a bill that is staggering to say the least.  You grumble and complain, but the fact is – you don’t own the content on the website, so you have to pay the bill – or lose the content completely.  They don’t mess around with this – as they have an army of lawyers that will show you exactly which part of the fine print specifies that they can do what they want.  So, either you lawyer-up – or you submit your payment.  Verify ownership of your content.  A good way to go about owning your own content/website – is to use a service like – or focus on building your Facebook page.  Although you still don’t ‘own’ your Facebook page, and have 100% less control over the visual design of the page – at least you have a network of individuals who can find your information – and a relatively easy interface to work with.  WordPress on the other hand will give you the tools to create a website that can be run by a beginner or advanced user – allowing a multitude of plugins, options, security features and much more.
  • POSITIVE/NEGATIVE Sales Service & Customer Service – the providers above do not specialize in customer service, but you’ll find that the sales staff is very well trained. They hook customers into long contracts, and then exploit those contracts when they want to.  As far as customer service goes, they will point to different locations, send you tutorials, and lead you to ‘self-service’ portals – but the truth is, they just want you to continue paying for your service.  If you stop paying, that means that you aren’t a customer any more – so they care even less.  Additional options/features (contact forms, click-to-call, tracking/analytics) will also cost more than your basic package, which is already insignificant.
  • POSITIVE Analytics – Many small businesses have no access to analytics, so the addition of analytics to your online venture is a tremendous advantage over your competition. Numbers included in even the most basic analytics metrics will include:
    • Website Visitors
    • Where Visitors came From
    • What Page Visitors Landed On
    • If Visitors came from Search Engines (organic), Direct (clicking a link), or Referral (from another source on the internet).  You’ll see more information about these types of links later in the book.


  • NEGATIVE Analytics – each of the options above will provide a fairly easy to use portal where you can see your ‘clicks’, ‘visitors’, ‘leads’, etc. But (and this is a BIG but) – they won’t give you specifics on where the information comes from, or even give you advice on how to capitalize on the values brought by the metrics.  They will provide you with a phone number for ‘tracking purposes’ – but the fact is, they are in full control over the number – and all of the calls associated with the number itself.  If you’re paying per caller, you need to start thinking about where the calls are from.  If you’re paying because they show you have 80 clicks per month, start thinking about where those clicks are coming from as well.  Be suspicious – as you can become dependent on numbers, especially when they are presented by a company who is defending themselves during a ‘contract resigning’ period.
  • POSITIVE Contract – Having a contract doesn’t necessarily mean you’re hooked into a deal, and you should dread paying out for the next 6, 12, or 24 months. The contract itself can be a positive – as you can use it to leverage service for your business, especially in the beginning of the contract.  Get what you want from the provider – and visit with your provider when you need additional services.  If you want more images on the website (or foresee this being a recurring task in the future), make sure that frequent updates are included in the contract.  In some instances, there could be a variety of bonuses when you resign with a provider – including discounted rates, services, and other perks.
  • NEGATIVE Contract – Many of the providers are sustained by resigning contract holders to additional periods of time. If they have 10k contracts on the books, and 50% resign – they’ve made an additional 50% for the next year for no recordable work.  When you negotiate a contract, do not sign unless there is a deliverable on the table – included in the print of the contract.  If they do not meet that deliverable, you need a course of action – but most times, the provider will wait until the last possible moment to send the next contract, stating the urgency involved.  “Resign by Jan 1 to avoid website shutdown”, which you receive one week prior to your website being flushed.  You don’t have any time to come up with a plan, let alone actions to fulfill said plan.  They have you on the ropes, and they know it.  When you do sign a contract (with deliverables) set the expiration date in your calendar, with a couple months left over to contact them and ensure they are delivering on their promises.
  • POSITIVE Overall – You have your own website, and although you might have to put some time aside to get it functioning, you have a lot of control over the message and branding of that website. Each and every bit of information, and the display of that information will have your personal stamp of approval.
  • NEGATIVE Overall – Your website might not be 100% what you want (or need), so you’ll always have to think about the success of the website. If you have any changes or alterations/updates that need to be done – you should do them yourself.  If you have a member of your office that is a little tech-savvy, you might be able to delegate the task – but you are distancing yourself from the reason why you built the website yourself in the first place, which was to either save money – or have more personal input into the design.


So, after all the POSITIVE & NEGATIVE comments that I’ve gathered together – you should ask yourself which option makes the most sense with your desired outcome.

Stop reading, and go visit a successful competitor’s website!

Do they have a clean navigation, with clear and concise options? Check to see how many pages of content they appear to have on the site.  Make a note of (roughly) how many pages they have – and think about how you can integrate similar page to your website.  If your competitor doesn’t have a website – look to neighboring cities/towns, and do the research to ensure that you have enough information showing on your page to inform your website visitors.

Website Trends & Navigation


As with your logo design, you should be very careful to not jump on the ‘trend-wagon’ when designing your website.  Many new websites rely too heavily on parallax scrolling, flashy features, animations, and scrolling images, and not enough attention is paid to the presentation of the important information.  If you have too many ‘interesting’ things happening on the screen, is a visitor able to find the information they need to contact your business?  Are they able to find your service area?   Or do they simply get the feeling that the amount of ‘flash’ (not to be confused with Flash, the online animation code) is distracting enough to be a cover for lack of actual substance?



If your website has too many options in the menu, you can momentarily paralyze your visitor – as they don’t know which direction to go in your navigation/menu.  If you stop and put some thought into your navigation – you can easily direct your website visitors to the information they need to learn about what you provide, in terms of services or quality of products?  Keep things simple – and get the information on the proper pages that will give your visitor a pleasing experience.

Do you NEED a Website?

Your website is the culmination of all your business information, along with details on how you can help your potential customers with your variety of services or products.  If set up correctly, it’s possible that a company website can be a ‘perfect salesperson’ – delivering a curated presentation each time a potential customer visits the website.  You have total control over the information that is presented, from your images, content regarding your specific services – and contact information, so visitors can quickly call you.  The style of elements on the page should match your other branding efforts and marketing materials, and be clear and simple to navigate.



Before you even start on building your website (or having it built for you) – spend some time and establish the goals you want the website to achieve.  If you’re looking to get leads from the website, your website will have a drastically different interface than if your goal was to inform your visitors on your services and abilities.  It’s too easy to start a website without a goal – and end up with a poorly designed ‘face’ of your company online.  To have a clear, concise message delivered to your website visitors – just set your goals before you even think about designing your website.


Examples of Website Goals:

  • Establishing differences between your company and your competition
  • Gathering email addresses for an email newsletter (eNewsletter)
  • Showcasing your portfolio/gallery of work
  • Informing your website visitors of your specific skills
  • Getting website visitors to call your phone
  • Providing a signup form, for updates/scheduled appointments
  • Giving visitors a chance to sign up for a new account/posting content (news/blog)
  • Selling a product using a sales funnel process

There are many other reasons why you’d want to establish a goal for your business – but there is no reason why you would start a website without a goal in mind.  It’s best to write this goal down, and think about this goal during each step in the design process. How will this image help me achieve this goal?  Is there a better way to write this paragraph that will help me achieve this goal?