Getting yourself a website is fantastic, but that’s just step one.
How do you go about getting the word out about your business’s online presence so that your traffic starts to grow and your website starts doing the job you want it to – whether that’s bringing in new customers or raising brand awareness?
The secret lies in online advertising, an activity that takes many different forms. This article will look at the different options and the benefits of online advertising in each of its guises.
As you’ll discover, online advertising can suit any budget, so if you’re worried about the amount of money this is going to cost, don’t be: some of the methods don’t cost a thing. Nor will you need to pay an expert lots of money to do it for you, as there are numerous online advertising opportunities that you can do yourself.
‘Online advertising’ is an umbrella term for numerous different online marketing activities, some of which require some budget and others of which cost time. Let’s look at each of them in turn and find out what the benefits are.
Search engine optimisation, more commonly known as SEO, is the process of getting your website appearing higher up in search engines for relevant search terms.
This works by making tweaks to your own website to optimise it for ‘keywords’ – the words and phrases people type into search engines to find businesses like yours. It’s also about building links from other sites to yours (content marketing being one way of doing this), which search engine algorithms see as an endorsement of your site.
There are several benefits to SEO:
If SEO is something you’d like to explore for your small business, here are some handy resources to help you get started:
If you’re wondering where to advertise online free of charge, social media is a good place to start. While each of the platforms has paid advertising options, there’s also plenty you can be doing to use social media to drive traffic to your website without expending any of your marketing budget.
Social media brings a number of benefits to your business, some key ones being:
The main social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, but there are others that could also be worth exploring depending on the nature of your business: TikTok, Snapchat and Pinterest, for example.
If you’d like to find out more about social media options for your business, here are some useful resources:
Pay-per-click advertising, better known as PPC, is essentially the paid version of SEO. We’re talking about the paid results you see when you search for something in a search engine, and it’s so-called because you often pay by the click.
For Google, this is powered by Google Ads, which like many of these activities you can run in-house or outsource to an agency or freelancer. Some benefits that make it a good option alongside your SEO efforts include:
Here are some useful pages if you’d like to find out more about PPC advertising.
For businesses whose customer base is primarily local (such as a restaurant or small shop), having a presence in online communities where local people hang out makes sense.
That might mean banner advertising on local websites, for example, or listings in local online directories. This ties in with SEO, as ‘local citations’ are an important ranking factor for local searches.
Native ads are those designed to match the site they’re on – such as an advertorial or sponsored content. It’s therefore a more subtle and softer form of advertising that can work well because people don’t feel that they’re being given the ‘hard sell’.
A relatively recent form of online advertising, influencer marketing involves working with people who have large followings on social media. This works because influencers are trusted by their followers, who aspire to be like them and use the same products as them.
While online directories may have limited value for driving customers to your site and are less useful for SEO these days, some directories or online comparison websites can still be popular places for people to search for businesses.
As already noted, local online directories for businesses in your area are good for capturing local traffic, and it’s worth making sure you’re on directory sites for your own niche, too – for example, Checkatrade and Rated People are good places to list your business if you’re in a trade.
Setting up your Google My Business profile is also a good way to manage your presence on Google, giving your business the opportunity to appear in brand, local and mobile searches.
Not all methods of online advertising will be suitable for all businesses, and you’ll need to think carefully about your strategy to ensure you’re utilising appropriate channels for your specific business.
Here are a few things to consider when deciding on the best types of online advertising for your business:
It may feel as though there’s a lot to take on board with online advertising, and there can be. But dipping your toe into the water with one carefully chosen method at a time is a great start, and one that shouldn’t take up too much of your time or budget.
For more techniques and tactics on how to get visitors to your site, have a look at these 21 proven ways to boost website traffic.
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