So you just created a fabulous new web site for your business… now what? If you build it they will come? Not really. The following presents a helpful list of “free” and “easy” tips and tactics to promote your web site. Why are “free” and “easy” in quotation marks you ask? Ahh, yes, because nothing is really free and easy these days. These are relative terms of course. The list below takes time and energy, and although these don’t cost money in a literal sense, they do take time and strategy. And as far as being easy, I say that loosely because they are intended as things you—the non-professional web designer/developer or do-it-yourselfer—should be able to do on your own. However, the items below are things you might want to pay someone who knows what he/she is doing better than you, as with any other undertaking. (And as disclaimer to myself and other web designer/marketers out there, this is just the tip of the iceberg concerning search engine optimization (SEO) and an overall strategy to marketing your web site.) So with this explanation of “free” and “easy” in place—enjoy!
1) Start out with some SEO (search engine optimization). Submit your web site to as many search engines as possible. The big three are Google, Yahoo and Bing. Next, list your web site in as many online directories as possible, especially trade directories. Some directories charge a fee, so if you are looking to get out on the cheap (initially anyway) you can skip those for now. However, the ones who charge a fee usually carry more clout with the search engines.
2) Put the web address on as many things as possible. It’s amazing how many businesses don’t get the word out. Put your web site url in your email signature, on business cards, tradeshow booths, marketing collateral, promotional items such as pens and magnets—everything. You may even want to put your web site on company vehicles, or even your own car!
3) Another SEO tip: Claim your local online listing. Google Local is the biggest, but there is also Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Yelp, Best of the Web (BOTW), Manta—the list goes on and on. Facebook now has a local page for a lot of businesses called “Facebook Places.” Once you claim your listing, go ahead and fill it up with as much information as possible. Some listings give you a percentage of information and rank you better if you have a higher percentage.
4) Start social networking by creating Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other free accounts. Word can get around like wildfire on these social networks. However, don’t fall victim to the adage of “set it and forget it.” You must continue to keep your social audience engaged. I would recommend 1-2 status posts or links per week to get started. Some businesses would benefit from 1 a day, but try not to do more than this as a norm. You don’t want to bombard your followers and scare them off! If you want to go even further with social media marketing, you can offer contests and discounts, start an ad campaign, or cross-promote between all your social networks.
5) Send out a press release. There are many free press release submission sites on the web, but the most important venue is your local paper. Make the press release sound unbiased, and as much like “news” as you can. Define why the web site was launched and its features and benefits. You can also add a quote from the owner—further lending credibility.
Think you have what it takes to promote your web site for “free” even further? The next two items aren’t quite as “easy” as the list above, but nonetheless can be produced at little or no cost.
A) Start a blog. Nothing shows off your knowledge in your industry better than a blog. Although blogs can take a lot of time, you can leverage them by writing articles geared toward your target market. I would recommend 1 article per week or so, or at least once a month or quarter. And don’t forget to post the articles as links in your social networks!
B) Publish an e-mail newsletter. Another big time commitment, a newsletter is an important promotional item. Once you establish your list (by pushing people to your web site sign-up or through promoting through social networks) you can blast out weekly/monthly/quarterly updates of things of all sort. Be sure to plug your web site and direct newsletter viewers to various landing pages and blog articles on your site. Many e-mail delivery services such as Mail Chimp are free, and provide you with tools to create web site signup forms and manage your subscriber database. Some also have built-in analytics, so you can track who is clicking back to your web site.
So there you have it… Five “free” and “easy” ways to promote your web site! Plus, a couple more ideas. As I stated above, a small business owner or do-it-yourselfer should be able to do all 5 of these by him/herself. However, there is definite value in hiring a professional web designer/marketing consultant such as myself to lend a hand. There is a reason people pay professionals in any industry—things can get overwhelming if you are not in this business or you don’t have the time. Feel free to contact m.e. for further support.
Any questions or opinions? Perhaps you know another free or easy way to promote a web site not listed above? Leave a comment below!