Website marketing de-bugged

This post strays a little from our usual four wheeled themes. But after a lecture from yet another cold-calling SEO company telling me how to optimise and improve the Great Escape Classic Car Hire site, I thought I'd share some simple words of wisdom for free.
I don't claim to be an expert but I have put the graft in over 5 years. Today the Great Escape site attracts 20,000 visitors every month and ranks in the top 3 on Google for every one of our key search terms. All that was achieved with some help from Mike Fieldhouse at RealityHouse and a lot of hard work.
In my experience, the effort put into marketing a small business in its first 3 years is at least 5 times more valuable than any other activity. After that it ranks equally with financial management.
Here are my 10 simple rules to website success.
1. Choose a relevant domain name - we hire classic cars, we should have put classic car hire in our domain name
2. Understand your customer - what are they looking for so what words will they put in Google?
3. Make the website journey simple - use Analytics to see which pages are most popular and focus on making them easy to find
4. Communication is king - fancy graphics and design have a role to play, but not if they get in the way of communicating clearly what you do and why someone should buy from you
5. Use social networking carefully - it can be time consuming so make sure you know what you're doing it for and what you are achieving
6. Use Google Adwords - you can't rank top for everything; target, target, target to maximise our budget
7. Do something every day - website marketing is a living thing; if you don't keep running, you'll get left behind
8. Always look around you - what is everyone else doing? What can you learn?
9. Listen - web marketing can feel like the sound of one hand clapping. Use Analytics, customer enquiries and customer feedback to learn what your web marketing is really doing and how it could be better
10. Enjoy it - if you don't enjoy web marketing, find someone who does. Otherwise it just won't happen

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