Internet Marketing Checklist

Want to do Internet Marketing? Here’s my best shot at how to do it.


  1. Whether you know how to code or not, a Content Management System like WordPress can come in handy.
  2. Are you a dev who doesn’t have time to make your site from scratch? Or maybe you are non-technical, and fed up with flaky dev’s and expensive sites? Spend $40 on a premium theme from a world-class designer, and customize it so its unique to your brand.
  3. Do yourself a favor and go with a responsive website. This is not the year 2000. People use smartphones and stuff.
  4. Get inspiration from
  5. Need a logo? Host a competition. I recommend 99Designs.
  6. Buttons and icons are small, but they make a big difference. Here’s a bunch you can use, just be sure to check the licenses.
  7. To save money, hire a photographer by buying their existing work. This is the idea behind stock photography.
  8. Add a Favicon.
  9. Create an HTML sitemap for site users. Consider putting it on the 404 page.
  10. Add social media buttons that point to your social media fan pages. Want them to be retina friendly and infinitely scalable? Use an icon font.
  11. For images and buttons that aren’t an icon font, you should make them retina friendly.
  12. Test with different browsers (IE 9, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari), as well as different screen sizes. BrowserStack can come in handy.
  13. If you built your site and you’re really proud of it, show it off! Submit it to web design galleries for easy links, traffic, and publicity.



  1. Google Analytics is a free tool for analyzing user behavior on your website. If you’ve never seen it, it will blow your mind.
  2. If you’re going to use Google Analytics, you need to create a Privacy Policy for your website. (More info on this below in the section on Pay-Per-Click.)
  3. Link Google Analytics with Google AdWords
  4. Use Annotations to track important things you do and their impact on your statistics.
  5. Create Goals to measure what matters.
  6. Create Intelligence Events to notify you when big things happen.
  7. Make all your outbound links events in Analytics to fix bounce rate
  8. If your site has its own search engine, link it to Google Analytics.
  9. Learn how Google Analytics measures time on site.
  10. Learn about ways you can improve its accuracy.
  11. Use Events, or add Javascript onpageunload, or use a library like Riveted to improve your time-on-site metric.
  12. Setup User ID Tracking with Google Analytics.
  13. Ready to try out some other Analytics tools? They won’t be free, but Chartbeat and KissMetrics are popular alternatives.


Google Webmaster Tools

  1. Complete Webmaster Tools official checklist.
  2. Create two site profiles – and Verify ownership, and set both to have your preferred (canonical) domain. (I prefer www for canonical domains).
  3. If you want to optimize for other, non-Google search engines and visitors, you can setup a 301 redirect from the non-canonical domain over to the canonical one.
  4. Submit your XML sitemap to Google’s search engine.
  5. Fetch as Googlebot and submit to index.
  6. Ensure page load speed is acceptable.
  7. Geotarget your site, if you so desire.
  8. Fix crawl errors.
  9. Use the Rich Snippets Testing Tool.
  10. Verify your +1 Analytics are working.



  1. If possible, get it in the same country the majority of your customers/visitors will be. If not, Geotarget your site with Google webmaster tools.
  2. Hosting is a commodity. For most small businesses, you can get shared hosting from a provider like Dreamhost for $10/month.
  3. If you start getting ~10,000 visitors a day, then you can beef up your hosting.



  1. Use caching.
  2. Improve WP site performance.
  3. Install Firebug and Google Page Speed Add-on and use that significant checklist to improve your speed. An alternative is Google Speed Tracer.
  4. Minimize queries to your database.
  5. If you’re having lots of visitors, consider using a CDN or Use Google App Engine as a CDN if your site and budget is smaller.



  1. Set up a comment spam filter like Akismet, or require e-mail verification on 1st comments.
  2. Don’t write useless blog posts. Some people make crap posts every week, but if you don’t have anything useful to say, or if you only have a half-finished post, DON’T PUT IT OUT THERE. Wait, polish, edit, and be excellent. This will increase the chances your content will get links and get shared.
  3. Craft your blog categories and post titles to include the keywords you’re targeting for SEO.
  4. Write useful, unique, & engaging content. Ask questions. Get comments. Some people think that you should close comments after a set period of time so that your keyword density is not messed up. Another opinion is that you should create cornerstone content pages that can’t have comments, but multiple posts that point to that page that can have comments.
  5. Every time you write a blog post, promote it! It doesn’t matter how good your content is if its not in front of people.
  6. Cultivate a list of places that you promote your content. For example, I like to post my links along with some discussion on HackerNews and subreddits like /r/entrepreneur. Flipboard can also send a lot of traffic your way.
    1. Don’t try to game the system on sites like HackerNews by sending out a link to your submission to all your friends, and hoping they will upvote it. Oftentimes, sites like these have an algorithm that can detect when you do this, and they will penalize you, potentially destroying your chances of making it to the front page.
    2. Also, don’t helicopter over your submissions after you post them on those sites. If you upvote or downvote other people’s comments on your submission more than a couple times, your submission will often be penalized in the ranks.
  7. Carefully time when you promote your content. For example, I often promote content around 11:00AM CST on weekdays. New York is about to hit their lunch break, the central U.S. is in mid-morning, the west coast is just getting in the office, and Europe is winding down the day in the early evening.
  8. Create a StumbleUpon account and submit so other people can… stumble upon it.
  9. You can also submit it to Delicious.
  10. Another tactic is to do a Google search for the same topic that your blog post is on, and then make useful, thoughtful comments that add value to the top pages. At the end of your comment, you can mention that you wrote a similar article, and you can include a link to your post.
    1. Tool: When should I post to reddit?
    2. Infographic: When should I post to social media?
  11. Add social media sharing buttons on posts – something like ShareThis.
  12. Put your blog feed on technorati
  13. If you’re hosting code on GitHub and you’ll be blogging about it on your site, you can avoid a duplicate content penalty by preventing Google from indexing your GitHub repo.
  14. Are conferences a big deal in your industry? You may find that live blogging is far more effective and cheaper than sponsoring conferences or giving out doo-dad’s.
  15. Create sticky content. This article is an attempt at sticky content. I don’t want people to read this article one time and never return. Hopefully this article has enough useful info that people will bookmark it and return to my site multiple times to read it. And when they return, maybe, just maybe, they will also read the other things I’ve written since their last visit.
  16. Use Infographics. People love these things. And they are social media sharing magnets, so they can come in handy with generating inbound traffic. If you don’t want to build them by hand using Photoshop, consider a service like Piktochart.
  17. Make money from ads on your blog. Google AdSense is a popular ad network.



  1. Keyword Research
    1. Key Factors:
      1. Competition (Is it possible to rank for this? Is our goal weeks, months, years?)
      2. Relevance (Even if people are searching for this, does our site truly deal with it?)
      3. Traffic (Will it even matter if we rank for this?)
      4. Intent (What are people wanting when they search for this? Look at the current search results for a hint.)
    2. Tools:
      1. Google Keyword Tool
      2. Moz Keyword Difficulty Tool
      3. Google Trends – forecast keyword traffic growth
      4. Google Mobile Friendly Page Tester
      5. Google Mobile Usability Report
      6. Run actual AdWords ads on exact match for advanced SEO keyword research efforts. See many people search for a particular keyword over a period of say, four weeks, and then target the ones that get good traffic in your SEO efforts.
  2. On-page optimization
    1. Page title: 3-6 words. Effective format is “most important keywords | page name”. Max 70 chars.
    2. Page description: 1-2 sentences describing what you do. Max 156 chars.
    3. Create an XML sitemap for search engine spiders. If you use WordPress, you can use the Yoast SEO WP plugin.
    4. Optimize your URL’s so that they include keywords you’re targeting.
    5. Run through Yoast’s unique WP SEO Guide
    6. Create cornerstone content pages to target your desired terms.
    7. Follow this up with fresh, regular updates of blog posts that link back to your cornerstone page.
    8. Optimize your images – Name, Alt text tag, and Title tag.
    9. Add in rich snippets. Test with the Rich Snippets Tool.
    10. If your site/app has a lot of AJAX, you should optimize it for web crawlers.
    11. Using HTTPS will also improve your SEO.
    12. Utilize structured markup.
    13. Make sure your website is mobile friendly because that impacts ranking – I recommend going responsive.
  3. Off-page optimization
    1. Submit your site to DMOZ
    2. Submit your site to the Yahoo! Directory, if you can afford it.
    3. Inbound links
      1. Linkbait – write interesting, unique content on your site
      2. Don’t do link exchanges
      3. Vertical / Industry Directories
      4. Local Sites
      5. Get a link in Yahoo Web Directory, if you can afford it.


Pay-Per-Click Advertising

  1. Keyword Research
    1. Key Factors:
      1. Competition (How much is this going to cost us?)
      2. Relevance (What kind of Quality Score can we achieve?)
      3. Traffic (How much money could we spend?)
      4. Intent (How likely is it that folks will buy? Look at the current search results for a hint.)
    2. Tools:
      1. Google Keyword Tool
      2. Google Insights – keyword traffic over time
      3. Google Trends – what keywords are trending now
  2. Determine LTV and the resulting CAC you can afford. Use this information to set your budget.
  3. Learn about the Google Display Network for image ads & text ads.
  4. I like to create separate campaigns for my text ads and my image ads, this allows me to allocate their budgets differently, so that one ad type doesn’t hog all the money.
  5. Build Text Ads
  6. Build Image Ads using the various sizes (you can also make them retina friendly).
    1. DoubleClick Ad Planner – research website traffic data and visitor demographics across the entire Internet. Use this information to decide if you want to target specific websites for your image or text ads.
  7. Select Keywords (don’t forget about Keyword Matching)
  8. Create multiple campaigns and groups.
  9. Inside each group, build 3-4 different ads and select 5-20 keywords on broad match. The ads will automatically cycle, and over time, the ones with the highest CTR will rise to the top.
  10. Competitive Keyword Research (but don’t assume they do it right)
    1. View the source of their web pages.
  11. Make landing pages for your ads (don’t use your home page)
    1. Make sure your landing pages contain the keywords you’re targeting in AdWords in a human-readable format. Don’t neglect to have those keywords on the landing page(s), and don’t spam the keywords in silly non-human friendly ways.
  12. Setup Remarketing using AdWords and Analytics working together.
    1. First, you must create a privacy policy for your website that tells people you’re using Remarketing. A lawyer is always the best choice, but you can also use iubenda. Although its not nearly as good, is another option.
    2. Second, you need to create a Remarketing list.
    3. Gotcha: Be sure to create a separate campaign for Remarketing, rather than just adding it to your existing campaign. Otherwise, all your ads will stop showing to new folks, and they will only appear to repeat visitors.
  13. Utilize Keyword Insertion
  14. Setup Ad extensions – sitelinks
  15. Review Tips for Success on AdWords
  16. Setup Conversion Tracking
    1. Pass in detailed conversion information – name, referral source, etc. so that you can track people all through the sales funnel, and not simply know the number of conversions. This article explains doing it with Google Checkout.
    2. Track telephone call conversions
  17. After 2 weeks and then after another 3 weeks, look back over your ads to manage Quality Scores. Sometimes QS takes over a month to rise.
    1. Disable and enable ones that still have a low quality score or aren’t performing well.
    2. Improving your CTR dramatically helps your quality score. For example, I saw an ad with a quality score of 4, but within 3 days, it had a CTR of 2.5%, and the quality score jumped to 7. Then, I created a new campaign using this same keyword, and the quality score was low again.
    3. Delete ones that aren’t working well, work to get them at 5 or higher, if possible.
    4. Set keywords with high impressions but low CTR to phrase match
  18. Also, every couple weeks, look over your Paid search traffic in Google Analytics. You want to identify keywords that are getting a high number of clicks but have a low average time on site. (You do not want to pay for people who don’t stay on your site.) Either remove these keywords, because it is likely that the person’s intent behind the search does not line up with your site’s content, or tweak your landing page to try to increase time on site.
  19. View all keywords, including the ones triggered by broad match, and then manually add the broad match keywords to your campaign.
    1. (Campaign -> Keywords -> See search terms -> all)
    2. Select “All Time” in top right
    3. Sort by impressions
    4. Broad match keywords that Google automatically added have a green box around ‘em.
    5. Add in these Added keywords to your campaign that are performing well. *(It looks like the ones with the Added are all exact match keywords, and they are performing better than the broad match versions that I created. For example, I create “student retention software” on a broad match, and then it performs okay, but not great, likely due to the variants of it. AdWords automatically adds an exact match for that keyword, which performs very well with a high CTR, but not as many impressions. So, I went in and changed a couple of these broad match keywords to exact match so that we would get less impressions, but a better CTR, and therefore, a better quality score. I did this for “student retention strategies” and “tutor management software”. Is that a good strategy?*
  20. Add Negative Keywords
    1. Repeat the above steps, identify poorly performing / irrelevant keywords, and add as negative keywords so they won’t display.
  21. Raise bids on keywords with a low avg position but high impressions



  1. Create a fan page.
  2. Make it awesome.
  3. Integrate Facebook Insights with your site.
  4. Add Facebook Open Graph Meta Data. You can use a plugin or do it manually. Also see Official Open Graph Documentation.
  5. Do polls
  6. Like us and get exclusive stuff.



  1. Optimize your Twitter Bio so that it includes relevant hashtags.
  2. Setup Tweetdeck
    1. Monitor mentions of you, direct messages, and keywords that might tip you off to interesting conversations, potential customers, or competitors.
  3. Perform searches to find what circles and communities you want to be a part of. Oftentimes, people gather around hashtags and use them to communicate to a circle of people. Find these circles, and then include those hashtags in your tweets, so that you can begin interacting with those people, who are likely listening in for those hashtags. In addition, this will help you to appear in tweet searches and people searches for those subjects and hashtags.
  4. Tweet it and get it promo’s.



  1. Use a modern e-mail marketing application to decrease the likelihood of getting labeled as a spammer. I like MailChimp.
  2. Integrate your Mailchimp campaigns into Google Analytics
  3. Enable Google+ related pages widget in Gmail
  4. Use preview / preheader text
  5. Code like its 1999 – use table based layouts instead of traditional HTML5. :'(
  6. Do e-mail client testing using a service like Litmus: get ready – e-mail clients are cuh-razy!


Well, there you have it – my checklist for web marketing. I hope its helpful to you. Don’t want to worry about figuring all this stuff out? Hire me.

  • Matt Ingram

    Solid. I’ve been running my own website for more than a year, and you lay out the details in a way that’s easy to figure out. I will be referring to this article over the next few weeks.
    Thanks Aaron!

  • @wwwoodall

    Great post. I’ll be back to reference this.

    Found your site through js weekly. Funny thing, is my cousin is a web dev, from Alabama, named Aaron Gray ( I was confused and impressed at the same time when I came to your site.

    • aarongray

      Thanks for the kind words, Dave. I hope the marketing ideas are helpful. That is too funny about your cousin – I looked them up on Twitter and on hellometa. Didn’t know there were any other Aaron Gray web dev’s from AL. :-)