I’m writing this just over 3 months into a new year but deciding where to go next in life – including your internet marketing – doesn’t have to wait for a particular “significant” date. You can do this at any time and probably ought to make it part of a regular-ish routine.
That’s true for a number of reasons:
- Things change – some of them inside your control (or more correctly, influence), others randomly or inexplicably, others just “because”, new things get invented, old things fade away (could you even play that VCR or cassette tape that you’ve held onto?)
- Priorities change – again, sometimes priorities you can influence, other times priorities from a boss or a spouse or children or even just an unexpected expense
- Interests ebb and flow – you almost certainly don’t have the same interests you had when you were at school or college, there’s a good chance you don’t have the same interests you had a decade or two ago
Which means every now and then it’s worth taking stock and deciding where to go next.
Traditionally, people do this once a year.
There’s a whole bunch of industries built around New Year resolutions or that have seasonal peaks at the start of January. Just look at how full the gyms are in that month and how the emphasis on the supermarket shelves switches to products that are marketed as healthier.
But there’s no real magic about the 1st of January or any other date for that matter. It’s only a marker on a calendar to help us keep track of things.
I like to at least skim what I’m doing rather more regularly than once a year.
And I think you might find it a good idea to do the same.
After all, if you chose a direction 3 months ago and it’s not working too well, why wait another 9 months to change.
And it it’s working like gangbusters, again why wait 9 months before you put even more emphasis on it.
With internet marketing – as with lots of other things – there are multiple routes you can take.
Some of them conflict with each other or require a completely different mindset.
Others can go out of date or have a lot less effect than they once did. Article marketing springs to mind here – I still get a trickle of traffic from EzineArticles but I’ve no idea how those articles still get found. As far as I can tell, they only show up for incredibly long tail searches and that’s as close as “by accident” as it’s possible to get.
Videos on the other hand show up a lot more, even when they’re nowhere near as optimised as they should be.
And content on my own sites tends to show up a fair bit.
Your mileage will vary.
But you need to do some (hopefully quick) analysis to decide where you’re going to move next.
If I had to get out a crystal ball, I’d say that should include some or all of the following:
- Bigger content pieces on your own sites. Probably less frequently than you’ve been used to in the past. Mainly because longer content (by definition) takes longer to create. But also because the search engine algorithms seem to be biased in favour of longer content – something I don’t see changing any time soon.
- Videos – in the same way as mass media moved from print to radio to television. That’s happening on the web now that even mobile phones can watch video content at an acceptable quality. Videos are less effort to watch than reading, even if some of them do seem to drag on forever before they get to the point.
- Facebook and other social media – you need to be careful that these don’t fall into the “time sink” category and make sure that your business use doesn’t just turn into an excuse to procrastinate. Targeted Facebook groups can get you access to answers fast. Much like forums, the answers may or may not be correct but if the group is reasonably active and at least loosely moderated then there’s a good chance you’ll get answers fast. You’ve only got to look at the number of visitors and number of posts to realise that forums are mostly in decline – I’m not alone in dramatically reducing the time I spend on them.
- Native advertising – the kind of ads that you have to look at very closely to decide whether or not they’re an advert. Almost the polar opposite of the standard “in your face” internet marketing ads where the focus seems to be that you absolutely, positively, must have it now, this minute, otherwise you’ll be a failure for your whole life and the product will be taken off the shelf so you’ll miss the opportunity forever. Yeah, right. We’re all getting more jaded about that kind of promotion and native advertising where the link is much closer to a “more in depth information” link and may even be that. I mix in more info links with advertising links on a regular basis and I’m by no means alone in that.
- SEO – scary stuff maybe but it doesn’t have to be. It’s definitely not rocket science and the basics haven’t changed since I first started on the internet. SEO applies to everything – it’s what helps the search engines make sense of the pages you create. It changes them from being a near enough unreadable wall of text to something that has a format and some degree of logic. Headlines, sub headings, interpretations of images (alt text), links, actual content. All of that helps your page to stand out. Of course, you may stand out too much in which case that can work against you but you’ll need to work out how to walk that particular tightrope in your niche.
- Paid adverts – not something I use much. Mainly because the art form is almost totally different from content marketing (my own focus) and most of the time there’s an incredible amount of testing needed before you start to make money. Plus different advertising platforms need different techniques. Just because something works well on Bing doesn’t mean it will work equally well on Google or 7Search or Facebook. And just because something works well in one format on Facebook doesn’t mean it will work equally well – suggested posts vs side bar ads vs the ads that seem to appear if you click on an image someone else has posted and then see some of the replies. We’re in a different “state” when we see each of those ads and there’s likely a different demographic viewing them. Not to mention when Google move the goal posts (again) and decide there won’t be ads on the right hand side of the results for instance. Or that more and more people are using Ad Blockers. I like my YouTube experience again now I don’t get autoplay ads every time I go to watch a video but it’s maybe not a good long term idea as it won’t help keep the platform free to use.
It’s time for you to decide where to go next!
- If you’re going aimlessly or buying what seems like every new offer that lands in your inbox then pick a direction – almost any direction – and work on it to as close as possible to the exclusion of everything else for the next 4 weeks. Then evaluate how you’ve done.
- If you’re seeing a glimmer of something, focus more on that. Again, for the next 4 weeks. Or, if 4 weeks seems too daunting, at least the next 7 days.
- If you’re starting to earn some money on the web, do more of the same. Work out if you can scale it reliably or if you can switch your time using the Pareto 80/20 principle.
- If you need to get help, don’t be too pround to do so. Whether that’s one-off for a particular problem you’ve hit or on-going help to keep you on track.
Above all, make sure you go through this kind of exercise fairly regularly. Otherwise you’ll most likely get further and further off track.