If you have just got your business’ website online then you’re probably thinking it’s time to put your feet up and watch as you rocket into internet stardom, but you’d be mistaken.
As I mentioned in our post on Why Your Small Business Needs A Search Engine Friendly Website, although your site is up and running, in the saturated online world your internet presence is going to fade into anonymity if you don’t take measures to stand out from the crowd.
But fear not, this doesn’t need to cost you – moving past your website and looking to other platforms to get your brand out there, from SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to social media, YouTube and blogging, you need not break the bank to get your business noticed online.
Here are the 5 cost-free methods I’ve chosen that are sure to help.
1. Search Engines and SEO
First off, you’ll need to make sure your business is listed on all the major search engines. Registering with Google Places, Yahoo! Local and Microsoft Bing is simple and, more importantly, free of charge. All you have to do is fill out a form and verify your business, from then on you will be instantly locatable in local searches related to your industry.
Similarly, SEO is just as important. In a world where nearly everyone Google searches a product or service before making a transaction, effective or ineffective SEO determines where your website ranks in the search. Although some professionals charge to perform SEO on your behalf, there are ways to improve your ranking without spending a penny – lookup online ‘how-to’ guides or pickup one of the myriad books available on the subject. Whether you’re an emerging small business or giant multinational doesn’t matter, successful search optimisation is a queue jump straight to the front in the long line of businesses online.
2. Social Media
Social media isn’t just a place for selfies and memes, nor is it a tool only for better exposure and brand awareness. Creating a page for your business on Facebook and Twitter or networking with other professionals via LinkedIn doesn’t just help get your name out there; you can tie in adverts and offers to drive sales, run digital campaigns or interact with customers. It’s diverse and almost everyone uses it, perfect for startups or established brands alike and best of all, it’s free.
Starting a blog is a useful method for generating excitement around your business, building awareness through followers and engaging with consumers. There are a million and one different platforms you can use to do this – WordPress, Wix, Tumblr, they’re all free of charge and as long as you keep the content regular, fresh and interesting, then you shouldn’t have trouble getting your name out there online. Take note, however, that an abandoned blog isn’t going to do your business any favours whatsoever.
Like our post on How To Use Video To Promote Your Small Business mentions, using multimedia such as video and imagery is a great tool for spicing up your online presence. Using free platforms such as YouTube, Flickr and Instagram allows you to post topical videos and images; make a good impression on viewers and people will naturally be intrigued to learn more about your company, so it’s important to think of ways to put a unique twist on your content.
Add links to your business with each post and make sure you are as informative as possible, people should know what you do and where to find you after each upload.
Every industry and niche has communities online and getting stuck into these is a handy approach to driving awareness amongst the professional community, but like your attitude to content, you have got to put the effort in. Take an active part in the community and build up a rapport with potential customers, businesses and other professionals within your industry.
Once again this is totally cost-free and an effective promotional tool, especially if you’re the new kids on the block and are looking to make a name for yourself early on.
It’s understandable that the thought of venturing into the world of online marketing, social media, content, video, blogging and SEO is a bit daunting. There are paid services and businesses do throw a lot of money at them to let professionals take on the responsibility, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be just as effective setting aside some time to be a little more creative.
Who knows, your YouTube videos could become a hit overnight, your Twitter profile a hub within your industry or your blog a ‘go to’ for tips, and best of all, it’s completely free and it’s a great tool for exposure online.
By Oliver Roche
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