It’s not exactly a secret that the internet is the worldwide marketplace, with millions of web surfers buying, communicating or “browsing” every day. Locally speaking, consumers turn to search engines like Google or Bing for local business information. Remarkably, though, most small businesses aren’t investing time or resources into web trafficking. Only 44% of small businesses have a website.
An overwhelming majority of consumers — something like 92% according to the Nielsen Online Custom Survey — first researched a product online, and then have bought that product locally. The business that has a website is much more likely to end up with a consumer in their local store than the business that doesn’t have one. While the Internet’s global reach is undeniable, so is its direct impact on local business sales. Without a website to direct and inform the local customer, a small local business will doesn’t stand any chance of real local success.
However, simply throwing a website up there doesn’t mean that customers will all of a sudden come running to your business. You still need to market and advertise. Some strategies — like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ranks web pages on higher based on relevant keywords — require an investment based on the need for outside consulting or services. However, there are several simple and cost-effective strategies you can implement to spread the word about your website.
1. Put the website’s address on correspondence
Adding the business’ web address to business cards, flyers, postcards, letterheads, brochures, and faxes lets established customers know that you’re now online, too. Remember to also all advertisements and promotional items like buttons, t-shirts, pens, etc.
2. Submit the website to all major search engines
Adding your business’ website to search engines is easy and in most cases free. Start with a keyword search for “adding URL to search engine.” You will usually be asked to supply the web address, title of the site, and a list of keywords that relate to your site. It can take anywhere from days to weeks to see results — that is, your websites higher ranking on a search engine like Google — but if you need quicker turnaround, some engines provide immediate submission for a one-time fee.
3. Inbound Links
A technique used to increase web traffic and internet popularity to your website by linking it to directories, journals or other online publications. This strategy involves submitting your site to quality web directories that manually review each website. In most cases, you will pay a fee for the review process. Sometimes you can get such links simply by informing the directory of your existing.
Once you put these tips into practice, you can’t just wipe your hands of it and be done. You need to track and measure results. Use a tracking system like Google Analytics or Click Tracks to monitor patterns. A couple of hours a week is worth your time. By identifying patterns, actions, sources of referrals, and common user behaviors, you can begin to focus and improve your online marketing efforts.
When you are producing a website marketing strategy for the first time, it is best to establish your aims first, and then seek help from a consultant best suited to those aims. By implementing marketing programs that are consistent with your site objective(s) and marketing strategies you improve your chance of business success.