Having a website isn’t usually really of any use unless you can attract visitors.
Existing offline businesses will be familiar with the need to promote/market their business, and with the offline methods that are available.
Having a business website opens up new ways to promote your business by using the Internet.
There are three main online methods that are suitable for most small businesses.
- SEO-Search Engine Optimization including Local Search
- PPC- Pay Per Click (Google Adwords)
- Email Marketing
Some businesses will use/prefer one, others will use two, and others all three. Which ones you use will depend on your business, your budget and your expertise.
Search Engine Marketing
Both SEO and PCC (Google Adwords) are part of the process of search engine marketing.
That is, using the search engines to attract visitors/customers.
Search Engines can provide your site with traffic from two distinct sources
- Organic Listings- This is purpose of SEO (Search Engine Optimization/Optimisation) so as to rank high on the “so called” natural listings, and get “free” traffic.
- Paid Listings –Using PPC (pay per click) advertising like Google Adwords
SEO (search engine Optimization) involves:
- Creating web pages and sites that are search engine friendly
- Getting links into those pages from other sites
Although not really difficult it can be time consuming, and even when done
correctly it may take many months before you get traffic as a result of your
page appearing higher in the search results.
There are many books and guides available on the Internet. Google provide a free starter guide that you can download here.
For small business sites you really just need to concentrate on
getting the basics done correctly.
This is very important for small local businesses and is usually all that is required by local businesses like plumbers,electricians ,restaurants etc.
Local SEO at one time simply meant doing standard SEO, but focused on a geographical area,and this is still part of Local SEO.
However Google and Bing manage local searches differently than standard searches have there a number of additional factors to consider when doing local seo
PPC- Google Adwords
Google Adwords is the quickest way of bringing highly targeted traffic to your website..It
It is a Pay per Click (PPC) system, which means that when someone clicks on the ad the advertiser is charged a fee. Google Adwords has several new and unique features :
- The ads are content targeted.
- They appear on the search results and on web pages.
- The position of your ad is related to how much you pay, and how
popular the ad is (measured by the CTR or click through rate).
Here is Google’s Introduction video
Using Google ads
Google Adwords can very expensive when used incorrectly, and although Google does provide comprehensive help I recommend that you don’t rush into it without doing a little research, and becoming familiar with it.
Above all make sure you set a monthly budget right at the start to limit your exposure.
I don’t consider Google Adwords suitable for non technical website owners to implement on their own.
SEO and PPC are used to get traffic to your site.
However what happens to the visitor that you get from these traffic sources?
They visit your business site, and they hire you or buy your product! Well most won’t do either, instead they will leave and probably never return.
So how do you stay in touch with those visitors and get them to return? ..You capture their email address and send them emails-
Is Email Marketing suitable for all businesses ? No – But with a little imagination most small businesses can use it, and you don’t even need a website to do it.
Tip: Try email marketing by using your email client to send the promotional emails before you invest in email marketing software or services.
Video Marketing using YouTube
Although not one of the three main methods it is ideal for service based companies like plumbers, architects etc.
It is really a very passive form of marketing as it usually involves instructional type videos.
If you want to see what I mean just go to youtube and search for.
Connecting plastic pipe to copper, wiring a plug, laying block paving etc.
Other Online Methods
- Facebook – Can be very powerful for small local businesses.
- Banner advertising
- Newsletter ads
Just because the Internet has become popular you cannot ignore the offline world.
You may have noticed over the last few years that many big sites e.g. comparison websites have become popular because they advertise on TV, radio and the newspapers.
For many small businesses traditional offline methods may be much easier than online methods.
- Newspaper and magazine advertising
- Posters and billboards
The ad would include a link to the website. Here are a couple of example taken form a national newspaper.
For small business owners I would recommend basic SEO, and for local businesses local seo is the most important aspect.
Local businesses like hairstylists,restaurants etc should also consider Facebook. There are many small local businesses that use a Facebook page for their website.
Google Adwords can be used in competitive niches (e.g. bed and breakfast), but you should make sure you understand what you are doing as the costs can easily get out of control.
Related Articles and Resources:
- How Search Engines Work-Beginners Guide
- WordPress SEO for beginners
- Getting Your Site Listed In Search Engines