9 Ways to Promote Your Business Online
One of the first questions new business owners seem to always ask is “What are some easy ways you can promote your business online?” Most business owners don’t start a business because they’re expects at advertising and marketing, they start a business because they’re experts in their particular field and want to make a living selling their products or providing services. Unfortunately, to be successful in today’s marketplace, it’s essential that you take part in online marketing to make a name for yourself. So where does that leave the majority of people with little or no online marketing knowledge?
For most business owners looking to promote a business online, it’s a simple problem of not knowing where to start. We’ve all heard that having a website and a Facebook is essential to promoting a business, but where do you go from their? How do you know you’ve setup everything properly?
For those of you who keep asking “How do you promote your business online,” I have a simple list of items that can help you jumpstart your online marketing strategy, some of which are extremely quick and easy to take care of and can have a major impact on your business moving forward.
Create a Website
First things first, get some sort of website setup. I know that it sounds complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Web hosting companies like GoDaddy offer great, free website builders that can make the process of setting up a basic website easy for even a beginner. Buy yourself a domain name (it’s only $10-15 depending on who you choose) and get going quickly, you’ll want to have something up if you plan on making the most out of this list.
Register Your Business with Local Listing Services
To get started with promoting your business online, getting your business information listed on local services directories is one of the most important things you can do. The biggest services to make sure you list your business on are Google+ Local, Bing and Yahoo! Local.
To get an even better start on creating your listings, take a look at Moz Local to find out great websites to list your business on. They also have a great list of Local Citations by business category that will provide you with a list of directories specific to your specific type of business.
WARNING: When creating you listings, make sure that you enter your data the same way, everytime, on every site. If you enter 123 Street Dr on Google, don’t enter 123 Street Drive on Yelp, keep your listings consistent for best results.
Use Social Media Promote Your Business Online
Claiming your social media profiles is a great way to start establishing an online presence. Not to mention people love sharing great content. Start off by signing up for your favorite social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. For further security and to increase your online footprint, browse on over to NameChk, a search service that will gather data from a HUGE list of social media sites to find out if your username is available. This site is an amazing resource if you’re really trying to create a large footprint online or if you’re trying to secure your username across the web.
Start a Business Blog
You might not feel like you have anything to say, but believe me, there are people out there waiting for someone like you to answer their questions. A great way to promote yourself online is to start a blog, using a platform like WordPress makes this process even easier (especially if you built your website using WordPress), but there are a lot of free services out there as well. If you decide to create one, make sure you share your posts on social media to help get more traffic to your site! Last but not least, stay active! Take it from this bloggers experience, the longer you wait to post, the more your traffic will disappear!
Submit a Press Release
While many people swear them off completely, an online press release is still a great way to build some inbound links to your website and promote your website online. Using a service like PRLog or PRWeb will help you create and distribute your press release online, for free, unless you decide you want to pay to REALLY get your release out there. Who knows, you might even get your business featured in a local paper. When submitting this press release, take a look at local papers in your area and submit the press release to the proper person as well.
Create Ads on Search Engines
If you have the budget for it, one of the fastest ways to start generating some business is to start running ads on Google (and Bing if you feel it’s worth it). For some businesses, this may mean a decent investment, for others, competition may not be very high in your area and cost can be low. If you’ve not done this before, try using Adwords Express for a simple, streamlined version that will let you easily get your ads online and running in minutes.
Create and Upload Videos to Youtube
I don’t want to hear that you can’t afford equipment to record a video or two for Youtube. You have a cell phone (and probably a webcam on your laptop), so you have something out there that can record a decent quality video. Give people a tour of your business, share your expert advice or some quick tips that people can use to improve their daily lives. Whatever it is, put it online and make sure to include a link to the website you created (make sure you include http:// in the link or it won’t create an actual clickable link!).
Find and Join Relevant Online Communities
LinkedIn is a great place to start to find groups related to your business, but there are likely dozens of online communities related to your business that can be found with a quick Google search. Signing up on a business forum and creating a profile is great, but to be truly effective you actually need to get out there and comment, contribute and interact with people. The more active you are, the more people are going to look at you as an expert in your field (if your contributions are good, that is).
Optimize Your Websites for Search Engines
This part is a bit tricky, especially if you’re a beginner or haven’t had experience designing websites. With that said, if you setup your website using WordPress, a great tool to use that will help you identify the basics is WordPress SEO by Yoast. If not, look around on Amazon for some of the top rated SEO books and see where it takes you.
Featured image courtesy of Phil Whitehouse on Flickr.
What have you done to promote your business online? Share your best tips for small business promotion by leaving a comment below!