How To Build A Better Online Presence For Your Small Business
By leveraging cost effective tools , your small business can significantly increase its traffic online and in the real world.
While your small business may not have the same marketing budget or brand recognition as a national or multinational business, by using the Internet you can still reap many of the benefits that in the past were reserved for larger companies. By leveraging cost effective tools that help with website building, local search engine optimization and paid search traffic, your small business can significantly increase its traffic online and in the real world. While the intricacies of each of these areas of digital marketing could fill its own book, here are the fundamentals to get you started.
The first and most important thing that you can do to improve your small business’s web presence is to make your website shine. Far too many small business websites haven’t changed over the years, giving way to a dated look that appears out of place next to modern web design trends.
The good news is that there are a variety of affordable and effective tools for making beautiful websites on the market today. Not only do these tools allow you to make a website in your browser, but their use of intuitive tools and attractive templates eliminates the need for knowledge of HTML or CSS.
Weebly and Squarespace are both highly recommended. Each uses a “drag and drop” approach to populating your template with content. Weebly offers a free plan, while Squarespace starts at $10 per month after a trial period.
Search engine optimization – or SEO – is the practice of creating a website that can be easily explored and categorized by search engine algorithms. This helps that engine to identify users who are searching for businesses like yours and direct them to your website. Local SEO refers to a set of best practices for “local search,” a priority for Google. By implementing a few small website changes, discovering and adding relevant keywords that your customers might search, claiming local listings on Yelp!, Google Maps and other registries and producing shareable content, you can make your website rank significantly higher in relevant searches.
There are a lot of paid solutions for Local SEO, though many are too expensive to net a significant return on investment. You may be able to find all of the relevant information you need to optimize your website on advice websites without paying a dime. If you must choose a solution, we suggest Web CEO for its breadth of tools and highly-functional free version.
Once you have made a website and implemented relevant SEO changes, you still will need to attract initial visitors to your website. Over time, SEO will “organically” attract visitors, and some of your existing customers will likely navigate to your website to find relevant information. If you want to attract new customers via the web immediately, however, paid search traffic is a viable option.
For small businesses, it is important to stay focused on the return on investment from any paid marketing activity. Google, Bing and other search engines charge approximately $0.25 to $1.50 per click for most search terms, depending upon competition, but this can quickly add up without paying off if you don’t choose your search terms carefully.
If you plan on using paid search traffic, begin by identifying highly specific terms that your potential customers might search. If you run a dog walking service in Boise, Idaho, for example, you might target terms like “dog walking service Boise.” Targeting “dog walking service” by itself would result in a lot of clicks – for which you would be charged – but few real business opportunities.
Cost effective marketing for small businesses is a delicate balancing act, meaning that any low-hanging fruit should be your first target. For many businesses, digital marketing is that opportunity due to its low cost barriers and high potential audience.