How to Get Free Internet Marketing Services and Advice for Your Small Business
Our “Free Internet Marketing Services: A Small Business Guide” series continues with part 2, “Become Search-Engine Friendly”. Last post was about free internet marketing advice for how to “Develop a Professional Image”. Be sure to continue to follow this series for more free internet marketing services you can use to improve your brand, attract more customers, and determine if you need professional help from an experience internet marketing company.
Part 2 | Become Search-Engine Friendly on your Small Business Website
Don’t have a website yet? Or want your website to work harder for you? Keep reading as these free sources for search-engine friendly advice that will help small-to-medium size businesses (SMBs) including non-profits with planning a website or using a website to build business. Try these free internet marketing services for stimulating ideas for your website’s search engine optimization (SEO):
Follow Competitor Trends
Chances are if you are reading this, you are looking for ways to catch and surpass your competitors. So really, they have done a lot of work for you! Look at how your competitors’ websites have evolved in the last couple of years using the Wayback Machine.
- Start by using your browser to search for the keywords that you expect your customers are using to search for your products or services (preferably the keywords your site is “tuned” for).
- Note the top 3-4 competitors for those keywords.
- Go to the Wayback Machine and enter each competitor website to take a look by clicking backward through the timeline at the top of the page. Hmmm….kind of like those high school pics of big hair in the 80s and horn-rimmed glasses in the 60s!
- Take notes on ideas of how these successful sites have evolved…chances are the changes they made helped them get to where they are.
If only there was a way to know what your competitors are doing in the search engine world…well, there is! Sign up at Google Alerts (free) to receive an email when your keyword search queries are used online. To build a Google Alert, enter a competitor’s name, brand, or other keywords. You can decide how often you want to receive the results and what categories you want to include such as news, blogs, video, etc.
Use Google Alerts to uncover new products launched by your competitors, read new content they post, or check out news articles that mention them. Of course, this is also a great way to know what is being said about your business as well, so set up an alert for your business name or brand. This free internet marketing services gives you all sorts of information to use to tweak your marketing strategy.
Explore What Customers are Saying
Hopefully you are registered with local listings such as manta.com, bbb.org, or yelp.com so your customers have the opportunity to let you know what they think. I can assure you that your competitors are listed in these local directories. Customer reviews about your competitors in these local listing are an excellent source of what customers are saying about your competitors.
Also, these reviews can be an indication of the words customers use to search for products and services like yours, so you can do some keyword research while finding great ideas to improve your business and stand out from your competitors. To do this, just search for the competitor’s name in a browser. You will likely find your competitors are listed in several directories and may have some reviews. The customer reviews provide some great tips on what the hot topics are as well as some overall business and management advice about what customers like and don’t like.
What’s that? You say you are NOT in local listings? This is the easiest way to be found by customers, especially if your small business caters to customers that are local geographically. Not only are most of these free links (bbb.org is not free, but can be a valuable source of trust), but also can make your business show up in search results long before organic search engine optimization will put you there.
Local directories are a great way to get early exposure to a new or revamped website. Sure it takes a little time, but get organized. Create a simple spreadsheet to track each directory URL, its PageRank and/or Domain Authority, the categories you used in your list, any descriptions you used to describe the business, the account name and password, and the date you completed the listing and the date you verified the listing. Not only will you have a handy reference when you need to change or add information later, but you can also reuse your well-crafted short or long descriptions by copying and pasting from the spreadsheet into each of the listings.
Bonus! You get links to your website which boosts your SEO score (called PageRank). Not all are free, but again, search your competitors’ names to see what local directories they are listed in and use those. Some really good ones to add to your list are Google+ for Business, MapQuest for Business, Citysearch (there ‘s a little secret about geting listed on citysearch, let me know if you need that tip), Yelp, to name a few. Also, search for “free local directory”. Being listed in a local directory is great because customers visit those directories to find companies they want to do business with rather than just entering a search into their browser.
So now that you have your small business in some local directories, figure out how to incent your customers to review you on one or more directory. Of course, you don’t want to delve into ethical quandaries to pay for reviews, but add into your selling process to ask for reviews. Place a message on your invoices or PayPal payment page. It helps if the customers use popular keywords and real product names in their reviews.
As you are thinking about how you will introduce asking for reviews into your selling process, think about how you can subtly suggest keywords: “Thanks for your purchase. Please review the products you purchase and our service at xxxxxx.com. The more specific, the better! We want to hear from you!” Also, you can offer a modest discount on future purchases for customers posting reviews.
Hope you found something helpful here. What are your tips for free internet marketing tools for small business to get into the minds of what their customers are searching for? Watch for our next blog posts to address other small business aspects of internet marketing services that are all free! Looking at your business through these free tools will not only give you the chance to reallocate budget to other business needs, it will also help you better understand what you need so when you do need professional help, you can be a knowledgeable partner with the internet marketing company you choose. Comment or contact us.