While you will receive lots of “advice” on how much you need to do to get found online including spending lots of money on Search Engine Marketing, the fact is you can start small with a little budget and the right tools.
Here are the Seven Steps Women in Ecommerce recommends you take to get found on the web.
The First Step is to get your business ready to list – that includes having an official business name, business address (if you work from home, your P.O. Box), phone numbers, domain name and any vanity urls you have that you wish to “advertise” online. When listing your business anywhere on the web, the name should be consistent across all online and offline materials in order to not confuse the search engines.
Step Two: If you do not have a website, you need to get one. In the eyes of your audience, a website will establish that you have a “real business.” Having a website is important even if you don’t think your clients are looking for you online. People look many places these days to verify a business, including looking for a website and on which social media channels your business is found. You can have a very simple website set up using WordPress – something that looks professional, yet is simple to manage. The worst thing to do for a small business just starting out is to invest a ton of money in a website that cannot be found online and worse, that you cannot manage yourself – especially when you need to only make minor changes or add content in a hurry.
Step Three – Know your keywords. You need to have an understanding of how your customers are searching for you and similar services online. There are several online tools that can help you discover which keywords work best for your type of business. Wordtracker and Keyword Spy are great tools with an free and pro version.
Step Four – List your site in online Directories and location-based websites such as Merchant Circle and Yelp. Women in Ecommerce has a service to submit your site to the top 50 online directories and search engines for only $50. If you are a Platinum or Lifetime member that service is only $17! You will also want to find industry specific directories to list your business.
Google your competition to see where they are listed.
Step Five – Get Social Proof. “Social Proof” is simply people telling others the experience they have had with a specific company. Make sure you have plenty of social proof in the form of reviews and testimonials. Add them to your site. Ask your followers and friends to post reviews online. Social Proof helps people to make a decision about purchasing a product or service from a company. There are many ways to get social proof including thru social networks.
Step Six – Speaking of Social Networks – get listed. Find out which sites your clients are most likely to be and list yours on those sites. If Facebook is where your prospects and clients hang out (and chances are good it is), get a Facebook page . If your audience likes to Tweet, get a Twitter account. If you have a visual business (people who sell products) check out Pinterest . And Google+ is a must. After all it is run by the largest search engine in the world! LinkedIn is perfect for professionals and B to B companies. Share content such as your back story (How your started in business), offer coupons, discounts, and even contests, things that will encourage people to follow you/your company.
Step Seven – Be the Expert – While its important to get found online, you also need to create relationships with your local media. That means you need a good website with a place to list your press releases and any media attention you have received including print media, radio and TV appearances and more. Your website needs a strong “about you/your company” page, easy to find and complete contact information, and content. Content works for the media AND for the search engines. Content is what helps the search engines understand what you do and how to “rank” your company. And it helps the media decide if you are a credible expert in your industry. Content should include videos, articles, photos, any audio links to radio interviews, etc.
Other things to keep in mind:
Now some of the things above, may require more expertise than you have or would care to have, which means you will need to hire people with industry specific knowledge such as a videographer, an seo expert, a social media marketer, but many of these things you can at least start yourself. The important thing is that you will know what you need, what you can do and what you need to outsource to others.
- Take baby steps. Start small. For instance, don’t try to manage 5 or 6 social media sites at once. Start with one and master it. Get comfortable with how to use it. If needed, take a few courses. There are many free online courses as well as innexpensive courses to be found in most communities. Chambers of commerce host day-long events. Find out if they have workshops on the topics you need help with.
- Participate in Google Hangouts to learn new online marketing skills. Women in Ecommerce co-hosts a weekly program with Stand OUT! Media Group and it is FREE and open to anyone to listen in and even participate. Join our Google+ Community and you will start receiving notices about all upcoming Google Hangouts and Hangouts on Air!
Women in Ecommerce also hosts online webinars such as the Women’s Internet Marketing Webinar we held a couple of years ago featuring internet marketing experts from around the globe. While some of the tactics have changed or improved, much of the content in those sessions are still relevant today. And if you are a member of Women in Ecommerce, you get all the audios as part of your membership dues.
Women in Ecommerce also hosts local hands-on workshops on social media. For those who are in the South Florida area, you can attend and learn in person– ask questions and network with other small business owners. Our next local event is the Social Media Mastery Day taking place February 28th. Much of what was discussed in this article will be covered that day. And it is being recorded so if you cannot attend, you can still register and get all the videos/audios and handouts. Check it out here: www.socialmediabusinesstraining.com