This is a guest post courtesy of Adam Steele, the founder of Loganix, a popular SEO fulfillment company located in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
If you are starting or running your own business, you probably already know how important it is to market your business and products or services.
However, you may also already know that it can take some time before a new business starts being profitable and are therefore reluctant to spend a lot of money on marketing right at the beginning.
Thankfully, you don’t have to spend much money at all on marketing to grow more awareness of your business and what you can do for potential customers and clients — that’s where online marketing comes in. Unlike traditional marketing in newspapers, magazines, television, the radio and so on, you can generate exposure online in a few ways without spending any money at all.
Here are five online marketing tips that you can do for free.
Get Active on Social Media
As of a year ago, Facebook had over 2 billion active users, Instagram had over 700 million, and Twitter was over 300 million. There is a large audience out there that includes potential clients and customers for you to reach and engage with.
You don’t have to spend money on paid advertising on those platforms either — instead, use a couple of tried and true practices.
First, get an idea of what can work for you by looking at your competitors’ social media presence and what they do.
You can see the types of content they create, what they share, how often they post, at what times they post, and so on. See what gets the most positive engagement and try to recreate that for your business.
Second, quality is more important than quantity. If you post anything, make sure it is high quality, interesting and useful to your potential customers or clients — something they will want to consume and engage with.
It should be related to your business, but do not be aggressive in pushing for or soliciting sales, as that can turn people off and make them unfollow you. The goal of social media posting is to make people aware that your business exists and how it can help them, not to directly bring in customers.
This isn’t to say that all of your posts need to be works of art or full-length, professional-quality videos. They just need to hit your customers’ pain points in a way that helps them. Answer their questions on matters related to your business or product, solve their problems, share and comment on interesting and timely news in your industry, and so on.
Film Your Own Videos of Your Business
Video is one of the best types of content that people like to consume and share, which can help you further create awareness for your brand. All of the social media platforms mentioned above, plus YouTube and other video platforms like it, allow you to post the same video to audiences of potential customers.
With the rapid improvement of technology related to smartphones and digital SLR cameras, it has become easier than ever to film and produce decent quality videos.
Again, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get these made professionally — you can take simple shots and use basic editing software to do what you need for free. Here are the types of videos you can film:
- Guides & FAQs — provide instructions and answer questions on things related to what your business does
- About your business — answer the questions people have about your business: who you are, who works there, how and why you do what you do, and so on
- Products and/or services — showcase what your business sells to give customers looking online a more complete picture of your products
When people are shopping for just about anything, it is increasingly common for them to have some of their shopping journey online (consideration, research, shopping, buying).
Videos are a popular way to give more detailed examinations of the products that you sell, so your potential customers can get the information they want before committing to buying it.
If they get the information they want from your videos, there’s a good chance they’ll first look at your business to buy that product since you earned their trust.
Optimize Your Website Content
51 percent of all website traffic comes from organic searches — when someone searches for something in a search engine like Google and clicks on a non-paid link in the search results page — and Google alone handles more than 2 trillion searches every year.
That’s a massive opportunity to attract potential customers to your business, which is why it is important to have a website and optimize it for search engines.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is something you can do yourself for free. What the most effective SEO practices are changes as frequently as the Internet does, but there are some SEO basics you can fall back on.
- Keyword research — find out the words and phrases that people search for when they are searching for a business like yours
- Page titles, H1s & headings — use high volume and relevant keywords in the page titles and main headings on your website pages
- Meta title & meta description — optimize all your pages’ meta titles and descriptions to contain the important keywords for the page, such as your product name, city, and business name
- Image alt tags — make sure the relevant keywords are in the image alt tag for images you use, like the name of the product if you have a picture of it on your site
- Internal linking — make sure all your website pages link to other relevant pages on your site to make it easy for both customers and search engine crawlers to navigate your site
Getting your website into the top organic position in a search results page can make a big difference.
Let’s say your business sells a specific product, and in your area people search for that specific product around 1,000 times every month. As you can see by this breakdown of what percentage of clicks each organic ranking position gets, the difference between just the first and second organic position would be around 70 clicks per month for that one product.
If you sell several products and services, all of the keywords related to your business will likely add up to far greater than just 1,000 searches per month.
That’s a lot of potential exposure to capitalize on, and optimizing your website to rank better in search engines can be free to do with big rewards.
Link & Citation Building
Another way to increase your organic rankings in search engines is through link building.
There are a number of ways to do this that are free and varying degrees of time-consuming.
The best way to increase your organic rankings in search engines is to have high quality, authoritative websites either linking to your website or mentioning your business specifically.
First, take a look at this list of the top 50 citation websites in the USA.
Some of them might only accept citations or links to your site for money, but most will be free. You just need to make a business account, go through some kind of verification process, and you can then list your business information — name, address, phone number, and website URL are the four most important pieces of information you want to include.
Outside of these big citation sites, the other good kind of citation sites are those that are relevant to your location or your industry. Local newspaper or chamber of commerce websites may not have high website authority overall, but they send strong signals to search engines when someone is searching for your kind of business in the same geographic area as all those local websites.
Same thing applies to smaller industry websites — industry associations, third-party marketplace websites (like AutoTrader for car dealerships), or other businesses or organizations that list their sponsors and partners can all boost your search engine visibility.
Track Your Efforts in Google’s Free Properties
The final tip is to be able to see the effectiveness of your efforts. Google has a suite of free to use products for businesses that have a website, so you can see how much traffic your website gets and from where.
Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google My Business Insights are the three big sources of data to help you refine your online marketing strategy.
When you post something on social media, you can see how much traffic comes to your website from the links you post. When you create a video on YouTube about a product you sell that links back to your online store, you can see how much traffic it gets too. When you put in a big effort to optimize your website or submit a bunch of citations, you can track how your website’s rankings in search engines improve for specific keywords.
It might be daunting to try and get Google Analytics or Google Search Console set up and use it properly, but Google Analytics Academy provides free training and certification to teach you how to do it all. You can also follow the top digital marketing blogs or YouTube channels to help you learn more about how digital marketing works and how you can improve.
About the Author:
Adam Steele is a builder of things, including agency and link building solution, Loganix, internet marketing agency The Magistrate, and among others, a Referral Spam Cleanup tool. He is always looking for a new hustle, and eager to help others with their marketing and business-related questions.