Learn How to Promote Your Business Online for Free: Best Proven Tips
The Internet is teeming with marketing platforms that don’t cost a dime—you just need to know where to look.
Improve your online presence
Start by evaluating the current state of your online presence, and then decide what changes you want to achieve.
If web searches don’t deliver results for your business — whether people are searching for your business in particular or for businesses of your type in your market area in general — set a goal to develop an online presence so you appear prominently in future search results.
If your business has a strong online presence but search results lead to outdated, irrelevant, or inaccurate information, set a goal to boost credibility by creating a website and online profiles that you control.
If you have a good online presence with credible results, set a goal to deepen relationships with those in your target audience by increasing online participation and interaction.
Appearing relevantly for highly-competitive keywords has become an ever-increasingly difficult task. But how else are we supposed to market our businesses online if we can’t appear competitively on Google’s SERPs? And how is that some people seem to dominate Google’s searches while others seem to falter and fail?
Clearly, it’s not easy. That might also be the reason why the world’s foremost SEO specialists can command thousands of dollars per hour to analyze, tweak and optimize sites for specific keywords. Surely, this is no small feat. What people don’t realize is that there are fundamentals building blocks in place that make it difficult to make considerable traction over a period of weeks or even months.
Translation? Anyone who’s interested in dominating search must know that it takes years and years to build up the type of link profile, authority and content to rank almost effortlessly for specific keywords. The truth of the matter? You need to do the most amount of work for the least initial return if you’re serious about gaining any traction with organic marketing online.
How do you market your business online?
What does it take to market your business online? Without waiting years and years to move up the rankings on Google’s SERPs, how can an entrepreneur get the proverbial word out? There are definitely some ways to market your business that will offer a better return on the investment of your time than others. Some will take weeks to pan out; while others will take months and years.
No matter what method you choose for marketing your business on the web, as long as you ensure that you’re adding value along the way, and you’re implementing the proper set of marketing habits, you’ll eventually reap the rewards of your work over time. It won’t happen overnight. But then again, nothing worthwhile ever does. Below you’ll find some the best methods — in both the short and long term — for driving that all-important traffic to your site and pages online.
1. Use the three big local listing services
Registering your business with Google Places allows it to be found more easily on Google searches and it shows up on Google Maps. All you have to do is fill out the form and register, then get your business verified through their confirmation process, which can be done either with a phone call or snail mail. Yahoo! also has a big database of businesses called Yahoo! Local. It’s free, and is certainly worth the few minutes it takes to set up. Microsoft’s Bing has a similar service that’s easy to sign up for.
If you’re running a local business and looking to attract nearby customers to a brick-and-mortar location or offering some professional service that’s geographically-specific, you should list your business on local business listing sites such as Yahoo Local and Google Local.
Google Local is an especially powerful way to list and verify your business information, providing public details such as your company’s address for Google Maps appearances, store hours and other information related to your business. Ensure that you keep this information accurate and up-to-date.
2. Embrace social media
Social media isn’t just a tool to gain exposure—it has now become a necessary time investment for every business to make. You can tie in ads and offers on your Facebook page and have a direct channel with your customers on Twitter. Networking on LinkedIn—both at the personal and company level—can be another way to help your startup.
3. Start a blog
This may sound simple, but it’s the most important step of all. The internet has incredible reach, and if you don’t have a web presence for your business yet, you’re missing out! Start off by making a website for your business, with all its details. You can do this for free using Wix. Take a look at this in-depth Wix analysis and make sure this website builder fits your needs.
It’s also wise to create Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for your business. These are where people nowadays look for services the most. So, make sure these pages have all the correct information about your business and are updated regularly to promote business.
Of course, these are platforms that require money for direct advertising. But you can also promote your business for free by using normal posts, live feeds, and stories. Send everybody you know invites and follows, and gradually build up your followers.
A blog not only helps your company get its name out through followers, but is a way to connect with your consumers more directly. But remember that one of the major keys of blogging is to keep your stream updated as frequently as you can. A dormant, abandoned blog is worth nothing.
4. Create useful video tutorials on YouTube and Flickr
YouTube provides a free way to distribute creative promotional videos, but in order to succeed you must put up content that people want to view and are relevant to your business—a simple ad will not work. A Flickr profile can also help by giving you one place to compile all the photos for your business, and allows you to link back to your website.
YouTube offers a great resource for marketing your business on the web. While you might find some friction at the outset for building your audience, if you focus on creating useful video tutorials, eventually, you’ll reach a vast amount of people. Again, you have to focus on adding value without much concern for generating profit.
YouTube is a great resource for tutorials because you can teach people just about anything in an easy-to-understand format. Whether you’re screen-sharing to teach a digital skill, or you’re capturing something in the real world, just ensure that the quality of the recording and the overall content is high. Also, be sure to drop a link inside the description back to relevant content on your site.
5. SEO your company website
Search engine optimization cannot be underestimated in the world of constant Googling. Pick up a book or head over to an online how-to-guide on SEO and make sure your site is primed for performance on search engines.
6. Press releases
Every time your business does something newsworthy, don’t hesitate to shoot off a press release—maybe folks will pick up on it. They’re a powerful media tool to use to help generate publicity, and having free distribution of them is a bonus. There are dozens of websites out there that you can use for your press releases, such as PRLog and 24/7 Press Release.
7. Join a relevant online community and contribute
Every niche has communities online that you can get involved in. But just signing up for a forum and posting every once in a while about your business isn’t beneficial for anyone, and will likely just annoy people. Actively contribute and build a rapport with the community, while keeping your business out of it. Passively promote your business by putting a link in your signature or mentioning it only when the context is appropriate.
8. Create a blog and post high-quality content regularly.
Clearly, the most important way you can market your business online is to build a blog where you can post and share high-quality content that adds an exceeding high amount of value on a regular basis. This is definitely a very long-term strategy, and it won’t pay off overnight, but every entrepreneur needs to understand the importance of embracing this online marketing method.
Not only does building a noteworthy blog in any industry or niche help to drive traffic by peaking the interest of Google, but it also leads to creating authority. If you can become an authority in your industry, you’ll garner the attention of consumers, the media and business owners alike. That, in turn, will snowball, build more authority, and eventually, enormous amounts of visibility and sales.
9. Market your content on Medium and Quora.
If you’re looking to get some early traffic, and you have a fairly new domain — less than 2 years old with little authority built up — you should work on marketing your content on sites like Medium and Quora. How does it work? Write one high-quality piece of content on your website. Make sure it’s keyword-centric, insightful, unique and adds a lot of value. Ensure that whatever you’re talking about helps people in some way, shape or form.
Once you’ve done that, write another article on a site like Medium or Quora, also making sure that it’s keyword-centric, insightful, unique and adds a lot of value. Create one link from that article using a primary or relevant keyword back to the main article on your site or blog. This is called content marketing, and it’s the most powerful method for gaining traction on Google’s SERPs, while also reaching large existing audiences through these authority sites as well.
10. Connect with others on LinkedIn groups.
LinkedIn groups are a great way for quickly connecting with others in your industry or niche to help spread your message. You can promote your content through LinkedIn groups as long as you don’t come across as spammy. It’s best to add value to a conversation or discussion before trying to drop your links.
LInkedIn groups are also a great way of contacting people who you might not have mutual connections with. You can message any other member in the group without being connected, which can become a huge asset depending on the particular circumstances. Share updates often in the group, and be sure to stay in the spotlight without oversharing.
11. Use Facebook ads and strategically-targeted landing pages.
Facebook ads, while not free, offer a great opportunity for reaching the right demographics for your business. As long as you know your customer well, you can use metrics like interests, geographic location, marital status, age and many others, to locate potential consumers to send to strategically-targeted landing pages, also known as squeeze pages.
Experiment with micro-spends to see which ad copy and squeeze page receives the best responses for dropping consumers into your sales funnel. It might take a considerable amount of time to find the right mixture or recipe when it comes to advertising on a platform like Facebook, but once your campaign is profitable, all you need to do is continue to scale.
12. Leverage the power of Instagram influencers.
Today, with the ever-pervading power of social media, you can instantly reach droves of people from across the world at a moment’s notice. But we also know that algorithms and visibility are working against us, especially when we don’t have the reach of hundreds of thousands or millions of followers.
To reach those people, we need amplifiers, power users and influencers to help spread our messages. While this won’t be free, it will give you instant access to a wide audience in your specific niche as long as you select the right Instagram influencer to help spread your message.
13. Utilize rich snippets, AMP and FBIA.
If you’re looking to gain a bit of traction with your content, you can utilize rich snippets, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) or Facebook Instant Articles (FBIA) to aid in some early exposure. Rich snippets apply to a number of content forms including articles via the AMP specification, local businesses, music, recipes, reviews, TV, movies and videos.
There are WordPress plugins you can use for rich snippets viacifications, along with plugins for both AMP and FBIA. Considering the recent focus on mobile by Google and Facebook, for example, having AMP and FBIA articles will give you a small advantage over those who don’t, increasing your visibility on SERPs and in newsfeeds.
14. Optimize your website for SEO.
Clearly, optimization of your site for relevant keywords is an important aspect of marketing your business online. However, the one thing to keep in mind is that if your business is new — less than two years old — and you’ve built very little authority or content, you’re going to have a hard time ranking at the top of Google’s SERPs for any keyword that’s marginally competitive.
The goal is to build excellent content, but also ensure that you optimize your site’s On-Page and Off-Page SEO. While this can become a very lengthy discussion, pay attention to things like your site’s speed, mobile usability, meta descriptions, link profile, reading level, citing of sources, content quality, insightfulness and so on. This is more likened to a marathon than a sprint, so don’t get discouraged in the short term if you don’t see enormous results.
15. Create a branded email signature.
One of the simplest ways that you can market your business online is by using a branded email signature. Place your links and any potential accolades your company might have received directly into your email signature. This helps to passively promote your business to people that you’re in contact with on a daily basis.
You should include social media links in your email signature too, along with any relevant links to important company marketing pieces — digital brochures or news pieces that feature your company. Drop a small tagline or one-sentence catchphrase about your business and its mission as well.
16. Implement the 80-20 rule to identify and market to high-value clients.
The 80-20 rule, or the Pareto Principle, states that 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the efforts. Basically, it’s only a small portion of what we do that actually produces results. However, this also applies to sales, which states that 80 percent of your revenue comes from 20 percent of your clients.
If you can identify which clients are generating the most income for your business, you can scale your sales out by sending them additional offers and discounts for other services and products. You can also gear your online marketing directly to these clients if they’re using a portal system to login or if they’re being tracked by cookies.
17. Encourage happy customers to give online reviews.
Word of mouth is still one of the best ways to market your product. Consumers trust the opinions of other consumers, especially when there are many great testimonies.
If you have happy customers, encourage them to write a review about their experience on popular review platforms like Google, Facebook, and Yelp. If you want great reviews on Facebook, be sure to create a Facebook Business page if you don’t have one already.
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You now know all the ins and outs of free advertising. While it may cost you nothing, it’s important to remember that you’ll have to be consistent with your work and invest a lot of time into it.
Some of these advertising methods are actually a lot more effective than traditional methods. With the era of digitization, people no longer watch at the TV for ads. They’re more likely to just ask Google for advice.
In fact, you probably already use some platforms discussed above like Facebook and Twitter yourself. So, their advertising powers and worldwide reach is of no surprise.
Don’t let the lack of a budget stop you from achieving your dreams. Make smart, well-informed choices and spread the word about your business to promote it for free!