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If you are a small business just starting out, forget Dragons Den or Apprentice, this may be the most important bit of information you will ever read?

There is a plethora of online marketing advice on the internet from a wide range of experts, but what online marketing initiatives are actually affective? How can you find out what works and what doesn't? You may only have a small online marketing budget so you can't afford to make mistakes, so what should you do and what more importantly should you relegate to online obscurity.

Well it can depend a lot on what type of business you are running, but if you have close to a zero budget and can't afford an SEO company, but have some time to spare, then I can recommend some of the following marketing strategies:-

*Contact other online websites with a related connection to yours and create a reciprocal partnership deal. For example, you may run

Pet food business, so you could contact other local online sites that are offering a dog kennel service or an online shop selling dog accessories. Offer an incentive to them like a banner on your website, for exchange of using their e- mail marketing list to market your services or products. Offer them a commission on each sale.

*Join local council supported business initiatives and get to know other business owners, attend networking meetings and network with other people in a similar situation. They may have a related business and again you can exchange ideas and team up together to create a partnership deal, by sending each other online visitors.

*Launch a Competition and give away a small incentive. Post your competition on the various competition sites. Works well for retail ecommerce type sites.

*Create a blog and write articles on current topical events, news. Add your blog and RSS news and propagate your message online.

*Create a video to market you and your business. Publish on You tube and other sharing media sharing sites.

*Advertise in your local newspaper which can be cost effective in gaining interest and quality leads from companies in your area.

*Use social media to connect with other people online. There are many free social media monitoring tools that allow you to monitor online chat - seek then out and engage with them, comment on their blogs and actively participate. Use social media to your advantage.

Network on facebook, try a small paid advertising campaign as a test. If you are focussing on B2B, try linked in to network with other users.

*If you do try anything you are unsure of, create a small test campaign with a low budget and monitor it's effectiveness.

*Do a talk or lecture at a seminar for free. All you need are some business cards/flyers to hand out to potential customers.

*Contact local radio stations and send them some freebies. Offer to go in and talk about your subject or your support for a local charity etc

*Once you have a few customers, start a newsletter and build up a following.

*Instead of embarking on a full blown Google pay-per-click campaign, try using Yahoo or Bing paid text advertising - it's not as expensive per click, as there is less competition.

If you have a marketing budget of sorts, you can seek advice and services from an experienced Internet marketing company. Many online start up businesses having come up with a great idea to make money online, quickly launch a website but often don't put a budget aside for online marketing or search engine optimisation.

It's sometimes too little, too late, to approach an SEO company once your website is already been designed, created and gone live. Some Web design companies are quite SEO savvy, but often it's the small things that can amount to big problems later on - these can affect your websites potential for ranking your website for your target keywords. To ensure good rankings in the search engines, it is important to get the following Search Engine Optimisation fundamentals correct:-

*Keyword research: research your keywords and group your keywords together assigning these keywords to relevant pages.

*Effective website copy for your pages: write engaging and compelling copy for your visitors. This will promote trust and your site will be more favourably received.

*A well coded and SEO friendly website: ensure your website conforms to correct html, CSS and accessibility standards.

*Link popularity - you need links from other related websites to make yours more popular in the eyes of the search engine.

There are over two hundred attributes of your website that the Google search engine looks at in determining your ranking score. Seek expert SEO advice at the earliest opportunity and ensure you tick all the right boxes at the business planning stage prior to launching your online business or outsourcing your SEO.