5 Basic Rules of Internet Marketing

1. Understand that everything starts with content

The best Internet marketing tool is your content. If you provide original, high quality content (or products, if you are an ecommerce site), people will naturally talk about you. They will visit your site, and even recommend it to their friends. Other sites will want to link to you, without you paying for the link. And search engines will rank you high.

Your content is your best weapon on the Web – especially if you do not have vast resources to build branding campaigns and engage in massive advertising. You can do all the shortcuts you want, or try to trick the search engines — and it may just work, albeit for a limited period of time — but nothing beats anything on the web except great content.

2. Be persistent

Internet marketing is not a one-shot deal. It is something that you will do on a regular basis using a variety of techniques. Competition on the Web is getting very tough with millions of websites competing for visitors and sales. You are competing both with small and big businesses — both in your own part of the world and elsewhere. It will take a lot more effort to get the traffic and sales that you need.

3. Use different techniques.

One of the cardinal rules of Internet marketing is: do not rely on a single marketing tactic. The risks are too high if you put all your eggs in one basket. Take for example organic search engine optimization where you rank high in Google – you may be #1 today in your main keyword but if Google updates their algorithm, you can get hit and lose as much as 80% of your traffic. Believe me, it is painful.

Make a list of what you can do given your resources to reach audiences online. Investigate what your competitors are doing to market online and whether you can use their techniques as well. Consider both paid advertising and guerrilla marketing strategies, such as:

  • Pay per click advertising
  • Banner advertising
  • Social media
  • Text link advertising
  • Contextual text advertising
  • Lead generation service
  • Running an affiliate program
  • Organic search engine optimization
  • Online press releases (both online and print media)
  • Article marketing
  • Participation in forums and communities (without spamming)
  • Email marketing
  • Tapping blogs
  • Link popularity

… and the list goes on. There are loads of free things that you can do, while some internet marketing costs an arm and a leg. Choose the techniques that make the most sense for you.

4. Track and measure your results

You can only prioritize your internet marketing activities if you know which ones work and which ones don’t. Put more resources or dedicate more time in doing activities that can actually bring in traffic. Regularly analyze your web logs or web statistics software to get a clear idea of the most effective Internet marketing strategy for you. Hard data can also help you look at how you can improve the results of each campaign and strategy that you do.

This is especially true for paid advertising – you want to know which ad copy pulls in the most number of customers, what ad creatives are working, and which websites you advertised in can give you the most. Only by looking at the metrics can you assess how well your online marketing efforts are doing.

5. Learn, learn, and learn

Internet marketing is continually evolving: what may be acceptable in 1999 may no longer work or frowned upon in 2012. Article marketing used to be so big in 2005, but with the Panda updates of Google, its value has significantly diminished. Online marketing also changes rapidly, that books with its lag time from writing to publishing often do not capture the new techniques that people are successfully using in marketing online.

The best resource on Internet marketing are online experts found in blogs, webmaster forums and online publications. Spend time every time reading something. Check out forums such as WebmasterWorld.com, blogs from the search engines themselves, social media watchers such as Mashable, and other sites. There are always a lot of things to learn.