The relative ease and low cost of marketing online has helped boost many small IT businesses that may not have the budget for “old school” print or TV advertising. But as many business owners have discovered, simply slapping together a website isn’t enough – you need to make sure it’s optimized to attract your ideal customers. And unless you have extensive experience with online marketing, your best bet is to find someone who does.
If You Aren’t Ranking Online, Your Business Is Essentially Invisible
When you work in IT, it can be tempting to go the DIY route for your website. After all, tech is what you do! But just because you have the technical skills to create a website doesn’t mean you necessarily know how to optimize it so your dream customers can find you.
“I can build these beautiful networks, but the marketing is part science, part art,” says
Jacob Ackerman (@Jacob_Ackerman), the
chief technology officer at
SkyLink Data Centers
Case study: Ackerman says his company initially decided to build their website in-house. While technically it functioned just fine, it wasn’t generating any leads – and was even outranked online by their company’s LinkedIn page.
Ackerman says the company redesigned the site with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind, which meant…
- Creating a new website in WordPress.
- Optimizing the site for keywords they wanted to rank for.
- Blogging frequently, incorporating those keywords.
About three to four months after implementing the new strategy, Ackerman says the company climbed to number one for their top keywords. The company’s biggest takeaway?
“Just because you’re a technology company doesn’t mean that you are a web company,” says Ackerman. “Hosting a website and maintaining and cultivating the content of a website are two very different things.”
Want more details about making WordPress work for you? Check out this WordPress Site Speed Guide, which offers valuable SEO tips.
How to Go from OK to Great with SEO
If you want to drive leads, find more clients, or boost sales, SEO is one of the most effective ways of doing so, especially for small businesses. TekBoost, a startup that focuses on the national resale of refurbished IT equipment, was ready to take the company to the next level after two years of steady growth, but knew it first needed to make some changes.
“We looked at what our competitors were doing and realized the only way to do that was by hiring an SEO company,” says
CEO and founder of
Hall says the company also…
- Made the website search-engine friendly.
- Incorporated metadata based on keyword research and competitors.
- Ensured healthy links were pointing to their site.
“Hiring an SEO company has certainly been the best investment we’ve made thus far,” says Hall. “Our rankings have increased and have led to more sales.”
Jessica Elle (@jessicaelle),
(@Localturf), a no-code website builder for small businesses, recently worked with a California university that wanted to boost its online presence. After discovering that the majority of enrolled students were from a 50-mile radius, Elle said her strategy was to focus on winning for keywords specifically in California.
“While individual search terms had relatively low search volume, on a whole, this strategy jettisoned the school’s website to the top of the search results for California-based IP addresses due to implicit search,” says Elle.
Thanks to Elle’s “hyper-local” approach, soon the school was ranking number two in their area for the term “business school.”
“Monthly traffic from this search term jumped to the thousands and our conversions were much higher due to the regional targeting,” says Elle. “If you have time to learn SEO, the rewards are incredible. If you don’t have time to learn, hiring someone reputable can be extremely beneficial for growing your business.”
Get Inside Your Clients’ Heads
When determining which keywords you want your website to win for, marketing experts recommend first making sure you are speaking the same language as your client.
Elizabeth Becker (@LizzyTheWriter),
client partner and marketing manager for the tech staffing firm
(@protechceo) notes, “In my case, it’s tempting to write my entire site around IT or tech staffing because that is what PROTECH does,” says Becker. “However, a hiring manager looking for a developer might not be searching for ‘IT Staffing.’ They might just be searching for ‘hiring in South Florida.’”
Case study: “We recently worked with a company that developed an app to help marketers manage their paid advertising campaigns,” says
chief strategist at
Clariant Creative Agency
(@ClarCreative), an inbound marketing firm.
"The company always referred to their product as 'CPC.' We did some very basic research and found that, by a ratio of nearly five to one, their target audience uses the terms 'PPC' over 'CPC,'" says Carter. "We immediately changed the way we referred to the product, and with that one change, traffic to their website immediately began to spike – simply because we were now using the same language their customers used."
Don’t Be Afraid to Change Tactics
Sometimes a winning strategy stops working or never takes off at all. That’s OK. It just means it’s time to try something new. Mixing things up in a strategic way can sometimes be just what your website needs.
Andrei Tiburca (@AndreiTiburca), a
marketer, copywriter, and email marketing strategist at
(@Bannersnack), says his company decided to boost its online presence by creating five-minute podcasts dubbed “snacks.” Because many of the Bannersnack employees are podcast enthusiasts, they assumed their podcast would be a big hit and drive traffic to the site.
When the podcast failed to catch on despite tweaks to the format and a promotional push on Facebook, Tiburca says the company decided to hit pause. “For the moment, the podcast is on hold, and we are now focusing on more relevant content,” says Tiburca.
Something might seem like a great idea, but if your audience doesn’t agree, it may be time to reconsider your strategy.
Bannersnack found that longer articles, optimized for keywords, are the company’s sweet spot, and Tiburca says one of his articles on video banner ads is currently on the first page of Google for its three target keywords.
If you’d like to learn more about effectively marketing your business, check out our article “Master the Art of the Buzzword & Get More Projects You Love.”
About the Contributors
Jacob Ackerman is the chief technology officer at SkyLink Data Centers, Southwest Florida’s premier colocation and hosting provider. His first technology job was with Regal Entertainment, where he had an early opportunity to be associated with the launch of Fandango. After earning a bachelor’s of science in technology, he worked for Caterease and Stock Development before accepting the CTO role at SkyLink Data Centers.
Elizabeth Becker is the client partner and marketing manager for the tech staffing firm PROTECH. In her free time she writes kids’ and travel books – because she enjoys both. Learn more about her published books and other fun stuff on her website LizzyTheWriter.com.
Beth Carter is the chief strategist at Clariant Creative Agency, an inbound marketing firm that specializes in creating content that customers can’t live without.
Jessica Elle is the digital marketer for technology company Forest Giant and co-founder of Localturf, a no-code website builder for small businesses. She has more than eight years of digital marketing experience and loves helping other companies launch and succeed online.
Sean Hall is the CEO and founder of TekBoost, a tech startup located in Austin, Texas, that focuses on the national resale of refurbished IT equipment. Prior to launching TekBoost, Hall studied biochemistry at Baylor University.
Andrei Tiburca is a marketer, copywriter, and email marketing strategist for Bannersnack, an all-in-one banner maker and advertising app that allows users to create high-quality banner ads to use for display advertising, search retargeting, and Facebook ads.