You are starting a business and have a checklist of the things you need to get your business going. You have the idea for a product or service — check. You thought of a name — check. You created a corporation — check. You raised some capital to get started — check. You built a website — check. Bam! You’re in business — check.
But wait — the only thing missing from this equation is your customers. You can’t be in business until you have customers. That’s a vital component. The only way you’re making money is if customers are at your storefront or, these days, on your website looking to purchase what you’re selling.
Some entrepreneurs may think that once they create a website, they’re done with that task. Creating the website is a fundamental first step to getting customers and an important element of any company’s marketing program, but there’s more to it.
First and foremost, your website should be built with a singular purpose, and that is to draw customers to your business. According to the results from an online survey conducted by Fractl and MOZ, which asked more than 1,000 people about their engagement and opinions of advertising and marketing tactics, products seen in search, customer reviews and online articles are more likely to have a positive influence on customers’ buying decisions. These techniques are all inbound marketing strategies that drive traffic to your website.
It’s a mistake to create a website just to have something printed on your business cards. I’ve seen this mistake made time and time again by small businesses. Business owners often create their own website using a free WordPress template and then add it to their business cards, flyers and brochures. While that is useful, your website is a much more powerful marketing vehicle.
You will need to optimize your website to be search engine friendly. If this means you have to take a crash course on search engine optimization (SEO), so be it. Another option is to create your website and then solicit SEO services from a reputable company. Although you may not have a large budget as a small business, the return can be worth the investment.
A website has the ability to continuously provide you with sales leads when you organically rank on the first page of search engines. That is a powerful lead generator! If you are a DIYer, below are simple steps, based on my experience, to start optimizing for search engines.
Six Keys To Get Started With SEO
1. Keyword Research: You should not begin the SEO process without first searching for keywords that are relevant to your product or service. The purpose of this exercise is to understand what potential customers are typing in the search engine to find your product, the competition for that keyword and how often it’s searched. This will give you a general idea of how much traffic you can attract to your website. Look for keywords with medium to low competition and the highest possible search volume.
2. Use Keywords In Content And Metadata: Now that you have selected the keywords, it’s time for you to utilize those keywords in the title tag, description tag, website title and content of your website.
3. Online Directories: Submit your company to online business directories, such as Google My Business and Apple Maps Connect, with backlinks to your website. These directories also allow you to show up when customers are in your local area while doing searches using the navigation apps. There are plenty of other business directories for which you can hire a service to help you submit to in a simplified manner.
4. Create Backlinks: Backlinks are links from other websites that link to your website. There are different techniques for gaining backlinks, such as creating directory listings, guest blogging and contributing to forums.
5. Social Media: I highly suggest you join social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn. Some channels may be more relevant to your business than others, but the bottom line is that there are many benefits to joining social networks as a business. They create strong backlinks to your site and allow you to directly communicate with your customers. These networks can spread word-of-mouth marketing exponentially compared to traditional word-of-mouth marketing.
6. Fresh Content: Never get complacent with your content. Regardless of your product or service, writing content and keeping your site fresh is important. The more valuable content you have on your website, the higher your chances of Google showcasing your content in the search results. For example, with a service like photography, most sites just showcase photos. You will be a step ahead of the rest if you also integrate editorial content and useful blog articles.
A good website is supposed to attract your customers by organically driving inbound traffic. That is one of the primary jobs of the website. Search engines make it possible for your customers to find you.
Your biggest challenge may be trying to get your website to show up on page one of the search results. I suggest concentrating on Google’s search engine, as it’s the most utilized. According to a study by eMarketer, as reported by Search Engine Journal, Google is expected to bring in 80% of the net search ad revenue in the U.S. this year.
If all of this seems confusing, it’s worth speaking to an SEO specialist for more guidance. This type of marketing has leveled the playing field for small business owners against the larger corporations. Every small business owner should be taking advantage of SEO tactics.