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Why Marketing Should Not Be An Afterthought for Small Businesses

Almost every small business owner is faced with the important question: "how much should we invest in marketing?"

While in some cases capital may be limited, a business's marketing budget should never hinge on what funds are left over after other expenses are taken care of.

Many new business owners and entrepreneurs make the mistake of waiting until their business is profitable before investing in marketing. Delaying this essential element is only counterintuitive and detrimental to a business.

The fact of the matter is, if your business is not generating sufficient revenue, how will it ever afford marketing?

Conversely, if your small business is failing to generate revenue, then a lack of marketing expenditure could be the reason why.

The Righteous Path to Small Business Success

Right from the start, it's critical that marketing is included in you company's business plan. This is particularly essential for start-ups.

Strategize and develop relevant, brand-supported materials that will bolster your business's marketing efforts. Such materials may include business cards and brochures, signage, and a website. All of this should be included in your business's financial projections and overall budget.

You should also determine exactly how your small business will establish a marketing budget.

Allocate a Marketing Budget for Your Small Business 

One common approach is to allocate a percentage of your projected annual revenue as a baseline. This percentage will vary depending on the type of business, size, geographic market, and industry conditions - in addition to whether your business in brand new or established.

In most cases, larger businesses will allocate a smaller percentage for marketing. For example, Walmart has an annual marketing budget of about $2 billion, which accounts for less than 1 percent of its gross revenue.

For small businesses that earn less than $5 million per year, between 8-10 percent of annual revenue should be invested in marketing. Launching a new businesses, expansion, or product may even call for more. In these situations, it's not uncommon to invest up to 20 percent in marketing.

In addition to creating a marketing budget, determining how to spend your business's marketing budget can be even more challenging. It is important to write a well-defined marketing plan that includes specific activities and initiatives. It's equally important to know how you plan to track these activities.

With time, you can refine your small business marketing plan and budget to maximize profitability and overall success.

About the Author
Tyler Tafelsky is an Internet marketing manager here at OIC Group, Inc. He works with a number of small businesses in developing digital marketing campaigns.

Strategy Insights for SEO in 2013

Search engine optimization (SEO) is rapidly evolving. The fact of the matter is, Google is not a big fan of SEO's. This is primarily because the core function of SEO is to manipulate Google's search results for the benefit of clients, or the SEO practitioners themselves. As a result of this cunning manipulation, the quality of Google's search results has diminished.

So Google continuously changes its search engine algorithm for quality control and to keep the impact of SEO subtle and maintained. But aside from the more minute algorithm changes that occur on a frequent basis, Google is striving for a greater evolution of its search results that will significantly impact the roles of SEO's and search marketers.

In a nutshell, the big changes for SEO are already present. It will be the onset of 2013 when they really start realizing their full potential.

So what are these big changes that are evolving Google search? The momentous changes center on social engagement (namely via Google Plus) and the profound impact real social interactions will have on SEO.

SEO is NOT Dead. It's Becoming More Social

Have you heard of this catchy buzzword floating around: "SEOcial?"

That weird little word, in its very essence, underscores the new form of search engine optimization. Instead of optimizing a website's content for keywords, SEOcial is all about optimizing your content (articles, webpages, blog posts, videos, etc.) for social engagement.

Awesome and engaging content that gains the likes, tweets and +1's of the masses is what will win the SEO game in 2013.

Not to say some of the more old-school SEO practices of keyword optimization and link popularity will be entirely dead - these techniques just wont be as powerful as the latter social media signals and natural sharing of exceptional content.

How to Prepare Your 2013 SEO Strategy

In short, the brands that produce top-notch content, and share it persistently with the right audiences, will achieve better positioning in the organic search results. In a sense, SEO is becoming more like actual marketing in that the focus has shifted from gaining the respect of Google (via keywords and links) to gaining the respect of people (via relevant, awesome content and social engagement).

Creating Amazing Content That Gets Ranked

Your 2013 SEO strategy will center on the development of superior content. To get your creative juices flowing you should be asking yourself:

  • "What types of content (e.g. videos, articles, etc.) would my target audience find engaging?"
  • "What social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Google Plus, etc.) does my audience participate on?"
  • "What topics of interest (e.g. Tutorials, Reviews, etc.) are relevant to both my brand's offering and my target audience?"

The answers to these questions will build the foundation for your SEO content strategy.

Partner With Insiders to Produce Killer Content

The inspiration and insights needed to create killer content will be best gathered by the people who are knowledgeable and passionate in the brand. By teaming up with insiders, you or your content creators can learn, incubate, and develop superb ideas that promote profound results.

If you're doing SEO for your own business, insiders are the people of your company that know the in's and out's of your USP's, products/services, and target market. If you're doing SEO for clients, the insiders will be the clients themselves and their marketing personnel.

Again, SEO is becoming more like real marketing. Think of the content you create as a marketing and advertising tool that spreads brand awareness. As that awareness grows, so will your brand's social authority (which can have a direct impact on SEO.)

Diversify Your Content Portfolio

There are many forms of content that you can produce to engage with your target audience. Spanning from videos to podcasts, infographics to articles, there's a lot of ways you can communicate and promote engagement.

You can even take one form of content, such as an article, and re-purpose it into another form, such as a video. In the SEO profession, we call this spinning. Spinning content is typically frowned-upon because it's generally seen as an effort of spinning the same article several times to generate greater link popularity. However, spinning your work into entirely new forms will help make the most of your resources while diversifying your content portfolio.

The Last Word

As you have learned, the best practices of SEO in 2013 will emphasize great content and engaging your target audience with that content. Just look at Google's search results. Local organic listings with Google Maps (heavily based on the social media network Google Plus) are dominant. Additionally, the types of content that you see ranking are videos, articles and blog posts - which are all enhanced with a little picture of the author (authorship rich snippets.)

There's still plenty of time to start planning your 2013 SEO strategy. I hope these insights will focus your intentions on the righteous path of creating a well-optimized web presence.

About the Author:
Tyler Tafelsky is the Internet marketing manager here at OIC Group, Inc. He offers over 5 years of experience in the SEO profession and handles a spectrum of campaigns on both a global and local level.

Tyler is well-adept in the latest changes of Google and advocates Google Plus and other social mediums as an integral component to any organic search marketing (SEO) campaign. You can contact him directly via email at or you can connect with Tyler on Google Plus.



3 Reasons Why Your Local Business Needs to be on Google+

Although the Google+ social network is still in its early phases, it’s growing fast and is projected to be the next big social media platform.

A driving force behind the growth of Google+ is that it's changing the landscape of Google Search. With the advent of Google's Search Plus Your World, the social activity that takes place on Google+ can directly impact the search results that are displayed to users.

This leads into our first reason why local businesses need to jump on Google+.

1. Gain More Visibility in Google Search

Take look at the local search results below for "chiropractor Peoria Il."

These local listings, which are accompanied by the map with little red pins, stem from Google+. Notice how Justin Tuttle is really standing out from the competition. He has earned a score of 29/30 which is supported by 17 positive Google reviews.

How did Justin Tuttle make is mark at the number one organic listing for "chiropractor Peoria Il?"

Not only is his Google+ Local page verified and optimized, but he's implemented strategies to earn good reviews, as well as trigger the "rich snippets" feature (showing his picture.)

In addition to proper Google+ optimization and local verification, Justin mostly likely jumped on the Google+ bandwagon sooner than most of his competitors. This leads me into my next reason why your local business needs to hop on Google+, sooner than later.

2. Early Adopters Can Become Industry Authorities

Early Google+ adopters can gain a huge advantage by jumping on board sooner than the competition. Again, Google+ is in its early stages of growth. Those who build their social presence now are considered "1st Generation Google+ Users."

The benefit of being an early adopter on Google+ is that you'll be able to establish more followers (rather, more people will have your business in their "circles.") This goes hand-in-hand with gaining more search visibility.

Let me give you an example. My personal Google+ profile has OIC Group, Inc. in one of my circles. If I search a phrase that is highly relevant to OIC Group and the content that they are posting on Google+, I might by fed OIC's Google+ activity in search.

Think of this as social activity integrating with search. With respect to Search Plus Your World, Google is trying to feed me better quality search results that might pertain to what I'm looking for.

As a business, the takeaway point is this: the more followers you can gain on Google+, the better chances your business will be found in you followers’ search activity (so long as the keyword search is relevant, and you as the business's social marketer are promoting quality content that pertains to what you offer.)

3. Connect With New Customers & Retain Loyalty

The Google+ social media network is like a hybrid of Facebook. Not only is the user-interface very similar, but the level of interaction on Google+ is even greater.

All types of businesses, whether local or global, can connect with their target audiences and bolster brand awareness and customer loyalty. Like Facebook, this advantage hinges on the quality and relevancy of the content that you're sharing with your followers. If your audience jives with the content you're sharing, they'll most likely respect to your brand just a little bit more (whether they're conscious of it or not.)

The fact of the matter is, Google views verified local businesses on Google+ as more credible and authoritative in search. The benefits are plentiful, and more advantages seem to arise as the social network continues to grow. As a result, it's essential that your local business gets on Google+ to stay ahead of the game and ahead of your competitors.

About the Author: Tyler Tafelsky is the Internet marketing manager here at OIC Group, Inc. He offers over 5 years of experience in the SEO profession and has handled a spectrum of campaigns on both a global and local level.

Tyler is well-adept in the latest changes of Google, and advocates Google+ and other social mediums as an integral component to any SEO and Internet marketing campaign.

You can contact him directly via email at or you can connect with Tyler on Google+.


Ecommerce SEO Tips for Local Small Businesses

Ecommerce SEO is not just for big brands with big advertising budgets. When executed in the right manner, ecommerce SEO for small business retailers can have a momentous impact.

The first step toward ecommerce SEO success is building logical expectations and setting realistic goals. In short, most small business ecommerce sites are not going rank highly for 2-to-3 word product-related keywords (e.g. "Asics running shoes" or "mens vintage clothing"). There's just too many well-optimized websites dominating the playing field.

Instead, an ecommerce SEO strategy for a local retailer needs to be extremely specific with keyword targeting. That is, small businesses need to optimize their ecommerce sites for more detailed long-tail keywords (e.g. "Asics nimbus gel 12 womens" or "mens vintage leather pants".)

Additionally, any small business retailer can benefit from having a local SEO strategy that merges aspects of social media marketing. Addressing the local approach to optimization (and social marketing) can significantly benefit ecommerce SEO for small businesses. This is primarily because Google is starting to integrate more locally-focused search results that also include social activity of Google+.

So how does a small business begin in creating the optimum ecommerce SEO strategy? Let's dive into greater detail below.

Latch-On to the Long-Tails

Although high-volume keywords look attractive for SEO, the more volume a keyword offers, typically the more competition it has. In fact, this is a primary reason most ecommerce SEO campaigns fail - they try to optimize for keywords that just not plausible to rank for (and they spend months trying to reach page 1 with no success.)

When doing keyword research for small business ecommerce SEO, start with phrases that are highly relevant to your website and core product offering. Get very specific with your research and try to uncover long-tail keywords that offer substantial search volumes, but with minimal competition. Although this can be an exhausting effort, choosing the right keyword targets can make or break your ecommerce SEO campaign.

Look for 3-to-5 word phrases that get 10-200 local monthly searches. The keywords in this range of search volume are typically less competitive, yet significant for SEO. And if your business is highly relevant on these long-tail keyword phrases, you chances to rank for these terms are even greater. Be sure to actually search these phrases in Google and get look that the search engine results page (or "SERP".)

Take note of the websites that ranking in the top 10 results. Additionally, take a gander at any paid or sponsored listings surrounding the organic results. A competitive keyword is sometimes evident based on who is bidding for the keyword using PPC advertising.

Combine Local SEO with Ecommerce SEO

In effort to ensure better quality results, Google is starting to serve its users more relevant, localized listing. Earlier this year, Google started integrating Google+ social activity into it search results. This has underscored the importance of locally optimizing a small business website.

The first step of local optimization is quite basic. You simply need to include your geographic references of your location through certain areas of the site. One of the best ways to achieve this to ensure your address is accurately mentioned in the site-wide footer of your website. In addition, you can further locally optimize your ecommerce site by:

  • including the city and state in the Page Titles and Meta Descriptions of the primary optimized pages of your site
  • mentioning your geographic location in the page copy or text of certain webpages
  • building links to your website using geo-specific anchor text (e.g. "mens vintage clothing in Boston")
  • cross-linking your Google+ Local page with your ecommerce site (more below)

Share Your Goods via Google+

A priority for any small business pursuing online marketing should be creating a Google+ Local page. This social media profile is a powerful web property that can significantly enhance the ecommerce SEO efforts of a small business.

Here you can share links to products, video reviews, or other relevant content that you deem valuable to social users. As a result, you can inbound more traffic to your website, in addition aiding your 2013 local SEO strategy with social signals pointing to your content and optimized product pages.

When Google+ followers or simply local searchers go to Google to find a product that you're offering, it's possible that your Google+ posts can be seen in their search engine results. To maximize the potential of this happening, be sure to use the hashtag (#) to tag relevant keywords that best describe your post.

For instance, if you're posting a review about a 'green countertop cleaner' include at the end of your Google+ post a few hashtags, like #green #ecofriendly #cleaner. This will increase the keyword relevancy of your post around green cleaners, and can increase the chances that your post will be visible on both Google+ and Google search.

To learn more about ecommerce SEO services, contact us or visit our subsidiary company


Peoria Web Design Company Offices:
OIC Group, Inc.
Phone: (309) 680-5600

Mailing Address:
PO Box 1111
Peoria, IL 61653