Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is THE key to being visible online. You could have the best looking website that’s filled with the greatest information. But if no one can find you, it will just sit out there gathering dust in no man’s land.
Google and other search engines use algorithms to determine SEO rankings. They aren’t just looking for those industry buzz words you may be tempted to use on your site and elsewhere (otherwise known as key words). These search engines are sophisticated, and are able to tell if you are truly providing quality content. You have to lay a solid foundation and keep building consistently to have great rankings.
How do you do that? Activities that work the best revolve around your existing customer base first, because they are the easiest and least expensive group to keep happy. They are much more willing to spread the word and use you/buy again. However, you also want new people coming to you. The good news is that you can do plenty of activities online to nurture and grow both areas of your fan base.
Having an up-to-date, nice-looking website is a must. You need somewhere to direct people who find you on various social media platforms. Your website doesn’t need to be large. But it does need to be informative and professional-looking.
Your site is a direct reflection of your business because you won’t be there greeting every visitor who comes your way. Hire an expert – not only can they design and developer a great looking and highly functional site, but they will know how to set things up behind the scenes to ensure your information is secure and that it is searchable.
Be sure to have engaging content that is easy to understand and to the point without being too “heavy.” Do not use tons of jargon specific to your industry. And do not be too “sales-y.”
Website tip: Look at other businesses in your area of expertise – or just websites you love – to get ideas for your site. Once you have the overall design in mind, include online growth tactics such as a sign-up form for visitors to receive your email newsletter, and social media follow buttons, so they can receive important information elsewhere.
Your Content & Social Media Activity
Consistency is the key to SEO. You need to post, blog, tweet, etc. on a regular basis.
Blog – A blog is a great way for you to show off your own “voice” online. Plus, by blogging regularly, you are continuously pumping fresh key words and phrases out, which helps with SEO. No one knows exactly what you know, so you can really shine via your blog. Write about advice, tips, case studies, products/services you provide. But keep in interesting and conversational.
Blog tip: Don’t just post on your own site. Consider posting as a guest on other sites too for cross-marketing to an untapped audience.
Facebook – Facebook isn’t just for your friends and family. It’s also a great place to collect additional fans for your business. However, this isn’t the old Facebook it once was. FB has moved to an algorithm-driven news feed, which means your fans may or may not see your wall posts/status updates. The default news feed is a mixture of content based on what FB thinks you like. This means posting engaging content on FB is more important than ever. You can watch FB analytics and test content types, times, etc. to see what works best for you.
Facebook tip: Ask your employees and loyal customers to promote you on their own personal facebook pages for additional exposure.
Twitter – Tweet your own content, but also re-tweet other people who have interesting/timely/relevant information to share. And throw in a fun fact or something of interest occasionally that isn’t just about you/your business.
Pinterest – Pin away. The more you pin, the better chance you’ll be found. But be sure you are organizing, categorizing, and labeling your pins appropriately. And connect each of those images to your website to allow for viral marketing. You want each visitor that finds you to have a complete experience. (By complete, I mean they see you on Pinterest, click on the image to go to your website, love what they see and sign up to get your newsletter and blog posts, etc.)
Pinterest tip: Use key words, including your company name, in the description of each image. This will increase the likelihood you will be found when someone does a Pinterest search.
Instagram, Vine, Tumblr, Google+, etc – Some would consider these secondary social media avenues. Only you know where your customers and prospects live. Investigate all avenues, and pick those platforms that are best for your business growth.
Your Email Marketing Activity
Email is a very low-cost marketing endeavor, and it can be one of the most effective (especially compared to direct mail or cold calling).
To grow your list as quickly as possible, make sure you are capturing an email address along with other contact data wherever you are, both online and off. All employees should encourage everyone to sign up for the email newsletter and promote it. Provide incentives for people to sign up, like special promotions and deals they would not received otherwise.
See what works best for your business by tracking all activity.
Online tracking – There are many great software programs that include tracking data. Your email marketing software is one. It will show who’s opened the email and who clicked on each link, down to the specific day and time. This valuable information will help you perfect your messages with regard to both content and timing. If you want to be more advanced, use additional analytics tools to track who forwarded the message onward, and the path visitors took once they arrived on your website via an email link.
Offline – One great way that helps track what’s working is to make sure every employee asks each caller and visitor how they heard about your business. This question needs to be on the sign-up sheet for the email list, too. Then you know which marketing tactics are paying off.
Email tip: Have an actionable subject line or something of great interest to encourage recipients to open and read the content. “Check out our top tips on…”, or “Save 25% today only”, for example.
Additional ideas for growing your online following
- Provide an email signup form and social media button for following and sharing on every page of your website (not just the home page)
- Include customer testimonials on all social media platforms
- Promote yourself as an expert by publishing articles and tips
- Offer incentives for those who sign up for the email newsletter or who follow you on other platforms
- Hold occasional contests, drawings, or giveaways – collect email addresses and other contact information to add to your newsletter list
- Offer holiday specials to all your loyal followers (Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthday, etc) to continue to attract new fans
- Donate your product or service to a charity event or auction, and/or volunteer your time to a charity or non-profit organization. This a great way to capture contact info from people outside your normal circle
Keep all online marketing activities on a schedule. (It could be as simple as doing Facebook daily, Pinterest/Instagram/Twitter weekly, newsletter monthly, to start, except for special promotions/holidays).