Getting found in a crowded market is a challenge for many small businesses. If you can implement a few, focused online marketing activities that deliver results, you can increase online visibility and be found by your ideal customers. Remember that marketing is an investment, not an expense. Therefore you must invest wisely to achieve the greatest ROI.
Before you dive into any marketing activity, here are a few things to know before you begin.
- Create a vision and set realistic goals – Knowing your vision will help you make decisions on what activities you will need to get where you’d like to go. Having clear goals directing your efforts allows you to make better choices on what you need to work on. Without a vision and set of goals, you may make some decisions that lead you nowhere.
- Know what makes you different – Most of the time, it’s not something complicated. In fact, many of us overlook our key strength because it seems too simple to us. Once you identify what is your unique strength, clearly communicate why this is of value to your ideal client. Stay focused and develop your expert reputation around this unique skill.
- Understand what your ideal client truly needs – If you know your ideal client well, you will be able to create the content they need and the services that will attract them to you. This knowledge will also help you avoid tactics that won’t work, wasting time and money with little to no return.
Simple marketing activities that increase online visibility
Provide quality, educational content via your blog
Your website is the most important marketing tool you have. A professionally designed, responsive WordPress website creates a powerful user experience. Plus it enables you to easily add new, relevant content that your audience needs.
Your blog is the hub of your inbound marketing strategy. It is where you can showcase your expertise and provide value to your target audience. The more content you provide that helps your target audience, the more visible your web presence will become.
Did you know that every blog post is a unique web page? Every new page that you add to your website increases your digital footprint. This gives you one more opportunity to rank for a particular keyword phrase. Your blog should be integral to your website.
Ideally you should strive to blog as often as you can. But even one blog post a month will increase online visibility and advance your website in the search engine results.
Marketing tip: If writing is not your strength, hire a freelance writer that can create your posts. Just make sure you review the post before you publish. Find quality freelance writers on Elance.
Learn SEO basics
Understanding how people search for what you have to offer is critical to your online visibility. Develop your list of keywords and use them strategically. Optimize the content you produce in your blog using basic on-page search engine optimization techniques. This helps your content rise in the search engine results.
On-page SEO include the following:
- Select a topic and write quality content. Each page or post should focus on one specific topic. Use variation of your keyword phrase throughout the content.
- Use descriptive page and post titles. WordPress creates the URL for your pages and posts based on the title of the page. Write compelling titles that contain your focus keyword phrase to get the most benefits.
- Use keywords in the anchor text when linking internally. Use keyword-rich anchor text in your internal links to help the search engines understand what those pages are about.
- Optimize your images. Write a descriptive alt tag for images using and include your keyword phrase. Name your image using the keyword phrase as well.
- Create unique page titles using relevant keywords. Create different titles for each page or post of your site using a specific keyword phrase for which you want the page to rank. Put the most relevant keyword first in the title.
- Control the content that shows up in the search engine results. Write quality descriptions with a call to action for each page and post. This gives searchers a reason to visit your site. It also increases click-through rates from the search engine results pages to your website.
Marketing tip: Use a plugin like WordPress SEO points out exactly where and how you should optimize your pages and posts. It’s built-in page analysis guides you on some of the more finer points of SEO.
Create, curate and share content
Be generous with your knowledge and give away valuable content that will attract prospects to you. Write an eBook, develop a white paper or write in your blog regularly. This content demonstrates your capabilities, builds your reputation as an expert and will help people decide whether you can help them solve their challenges.
But, you don’t have to create original content to be perceived as a hub of useful information. Find and share content written by others enhanced with your thoughts, views and commentary. Now you provide a valuable service to your followers. Directing people to quality nuggets of content such as social media posts or email newsletters keeps you visible while strengthening your expert reputation.
Marketing tip: Spend a little time each week and schedule posts for delivery throughout the week on your social media sites. Use Buffer, Hootsuite or Publer.io to schedule these posts. Check for activity and respond to those who have commented.
Create a local business listing in Google and Bing
You can increase your online visibility in local search results by adding local business listings. Add images, a keyword rich profile and point it back to your website or blog. Get happy clients to write reviews as these can be incorporated into the listing. For your Google Local Business Listing, reviews are also compiled from third-party websites. All businesses should create free listings in these local business directories to help increase traffic to your website. There are many others that can be beneficial but start here and add new ones as appropriate.
Get Customer Reviews
One of the best ways to increase your visibility is to encourage customers to provide reviews. Use sites such as Facebook, Yelp, Google Business Profile, Angie’s List or other directories that are relevant to your industry. In a recent survey, 95% of consumers read online reviews before they shop and 58% say they would pay more for the products of a brand with good reviews.
Happy customers generally won’t think to post a review but it’s almost guaranteed that a customer with a negative experience will find the time to post. It is up to you to encourage reviews from your customers as part of your customer service process. You can simply ask for a review, provide a feedback form that also points to specific online profiles or if all else fails, set up a way for customers to provide a testimonial for your website.
And don’t worry if you get a negative review. No matter how good you are, some people will find something to complain about. Your goal is to get many reviews because a mix of good reviews with a couple of negative ones is better than just one positive review.
Marketing tip: On your customer testimonials web page, add direct links to your Facebook Page, Google Business Profile, Yelp or any other listing you have where you want someone to write a review. Send a direct link to your best customers to make it easy for them to post a review.
Become Active on Social Media
Every business can benefit from some social media activity. Selecting the right platforms for your business and becoming active – that is posting content, asking questions and interacting with your followers – can boost your visibility.
Social media profiles frequently appear in search engine results, therefore make sure all of your social media profiles are well written, consistently branded and optimized around how you wish to be found. Make sure to include complete contact information across all profiles. The goal of creating a large digital footprint with your website as the hub is to ensure there are many ways for people to find you.
Remember it is not about how many friends, followers or likes you have but the quality of those who connect and interact with your business.
Marketing tip: Pick one or two social media platforms that make the most sense for your business, develop your content strategy and work those consistently.
Final piece of advice
Although it seems overwhelming at times, online marketing is a process that can be planned, tracked and measured. To increase your online visibility and get the most value from your efforts, create your plan (and get help if you need it), prioritize your marketing activities and commit to spending some time every day marketing your business. Don’t let fear paralyze you from taking action because doing nothing is riskier than doing something not quite right.