[This is Part 1 of a thee-part article. Part 2 will be posted next week 🙂 ]
I’ve talked with several small business owners this week who don’t have much money in their marketing budgets, but they all wanted to know how to get started with internet marketing. Here are some ideas I shared with them on internet marketing for small businesses.
1. Start a blog
This is my A-1 Priority for small businesses: create blog and add content to it regularly. With the updates that Google made last year, having fresh content is more important than ever for search engine results, and your readers like it, too!
Please keep your blog at your current website. The best location is www.yourwebsite.com/blog/. This will not only help the search engines find your blog, but it will accrue all the SEO benefits of your blog to your website, raising all ships, as it were. 🙂
2. Optimize your website for the search engines
Google handles a billion searches a day! You can leverage this traffic opportunity by using best practices in search engine optimization to help your site riank higher in Google’s results.
I’ve written several posts about how to apply SEO best practices to your website. These are simple things that you can either do yourself, or ask your webmaster to do some of them.
3. Leverage social networks
The Big Five here are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google+. You should be leveraging each of these, but it’s probably best to tackle them one at a time. Your profiles on each of these sites are a good source of traffic, and your posts here will create new opportunities to be found by people and companies that want your products and services.
I’ve been running a test on Twitter since the first of the year, posting 4 times a day with links to some great content. I do this only 5 days a week. The result of this is that as of this morning, my website traffic is up 237% over the previous 30 days, and my social media traffic is most of that increase.
Total cost for this increase in traffic: 30 minutes of my time on Sunday to set it up for the week.
4. Comment on blogs
Here’s a really easy one! Leave a comment on another person’s blog that relates to your website. Make sure your comments are insightful, or at least interesting. If people find your comment helpful, they’re likely to click over to your webite to see what else you have to say.
After just three years, Mashable is one of the most visited blogs in the world. Pete Cashmore made his blog popular by commenting on competing blogs like TechCrunch when he first launched Mashable. He literally left hundreds of comments. Now he has the popularity that proves commenting on other blogs is a great way to get noticed!
5. Write beginner’s guides
People want to learn more about the very topics that you’re an expert in. Write a Beginner’s Guide — make sure it’s thorough (but it doesn’t have to be long). Make this available for free and you’ll get a ton of traffic to your website.
Using idea #2, be sure to tweet about this guide, and make it available on all your social media platforms.
A good example of this is SEOmoz.org. They wrote the Beginner’s Guide to SEO, which has led to a lot of business for them. People read the guide and then come back to their website for more. SEOmoz sells their software serive for $99 a month.
6. Answer questions
Many people have questions about areas in which you’re knowledgeable, and you can answer their questions. Answering questions about your industry or your type of products and services will get you new customers.
The best place to answer questions is on LinkedIn Answers. Click on “Advanced Answers Search”, enter the keywords or business category you’re interested in, and check the box for “Show only unanswered questions”. Answer a few question every day. As in most other marketing ideas, this works best if done regularly.
A professional friend of mine has been answering questions on LinkedIn Answers for several months, and now gets 80% of her business from people whose questions she has answered! This really works!
[ This is Part 1 of a three-part article that will continue next week. ]