These days making your debut on the internet can be tough. On one hand, you have a huge amount of competitors to overcome, no matter what industry you’re in. On the other, the internet has expanded at an incredible rate to allow for more marketing and optimization methods than ever before. You may have heard people mentioning social marketing, sharing, advertising, Google Adwords and mobile compatibility – these are surely beneficial – but are only the tip of a much larger iceberg. Much of today’s online marketing can be achieved by you, for free – if you have the time and motivation.
Kicking it DIY Style – boosting your website for free
It’s often said that the best things in life are free, and while this may not apply heavily to internet marketing, it’s still true that the web is full of opportunity if you have the time and energy to look in the right places.
1. Offer unique and useful information on your website
The best way to capture and retain any web surfer’s attention is to offer something unique, free, informative or high quality on your website. Take a case in point – say you are a building contractor and you’ve been around a fair bit. You know the ins and outs of how people are getting scammed by other tradies, or you’ve got some great DIY tips up there in your head. Put it on the website. For example, make a new page explaining how to get the most out of your construction quotes to make sure there are no hidden costs, or put up articles about the right and wrong way to use grout or gyprock. If local people can come to that site and find your great DIY tips and articles, that creates the momentum for more an more traffic. Even if you have no ideas for articles, think about what your clients or friends usually ask you (as the expert). People want to come to you for advice, and putting your bag of tricks out there on the internet will only serve to position you as a reputable expert. It’s much better to set these tips out in a Blog format, and add new tips regularly – Google will love you to bits for it, and you will instantly have that much advantage over your competitors.
Keep in mind that copy pasting content from other websites will not drive traffic to your website, and may actually harm your ranking. You need to create this content yourself, for people to come to when they need tips, advice, entertainment, news, or even just a good laugh. If you’re strapped for time, you can outsource article writing from as low as $5 per article. The fact remains though, that nobody knows your business or industry than you, and self-created content will shine through with high quality (an may result in people sharing and linking to your site).
2. Clean up your website
- Get a proofreader (even just a relative who knows decent English). bad grammar and spelling can instantly lower the tone of your business and result in click backs as people find you to be unprofessional.
- Keep it visually simple. Remove anything unnecessary and allow more focus for your call to action buttons in order to direct visitors to the parts of the website you want them to go (generally Contact Us or Shop Online). Today’s visitors have lower attention spans and appreciate professionalism and simplicity (especially when it comes to logos and business identity). Try not to add too many different bright, clashing colours, especially when it comes to text.
- Break up your text. When writing articles or pages, make sure you break up your text into short paragraphs, separated by large titles. Nobody wants to read a long square block of text. Consider the attention spans of your target market.’
3. Get backlinks from industry bodies
A backlink is usually a mutual benefit – you link to my site, I’ll link to yours. Start with friends you know in your industry and offer to link to their websites in exchange for a link back to yours. Make sure you exchange links with only the most purely relevant websites. A link from a building association to a ballet school will mean nothing and no benefit will come of it. Bear in mind that linking and backlinking to poor quality/ spammy websites will hurt you. Only link to sites that are exactly on your topic, and will be a benefit your visitors. You could also think about trading banner ads, flash ads, and image links.
Do not go overboard with this – up to 6 links to decent competitors’ or industry bodies’ websites will do you well. Too many random links will result in penalty. Google’s guidelines specifically warn against this.
4. Social Media marketing – a universe of opportunity
Always on the top of everyone’s time-consuming tasks and New Year’s resolutions is the fast lane world of social media marketing. A lot of people don’t know what social media marketing means, but they’ve been told repeatedly that they should be doing it. Don’t think that the buck stops at just Facebook and Twitter. Depending on your business and industry, much much more opportunity awaits by selecting other relevant social networks like Youtube, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+. Remember that social media marketing is unlikely to bring waves of traffic to your site instantly, it is a long term marketing strategy. But which networks should you use, and when? Here’s some key tactics for 2013, and why they might be of a benefit to you:
Is Facebook right for you?
Good for these business types: social, gossip, fashion, personal, ever-changing, community-centric. Eg. clothes shops, hairdressers, local clubs and groups, restaurants, and businesses with lots of news to share.
User market share: Aged 21-24 males and females (slightly more males)
What to do: Set up a Facebook Business Page, upload a nice banner graphic, and regularly share video, photos, and news. Get involved in peoples’ responses and comments, generating discussion. Reach your market on a personal level. Add a Find Us On Facebook button to your website, linking to your Facebook page.
What not to do: Set up a facebook page and do nothing with it (worse than not setting up a page at all). Don’t be too salesy with what you write – remember, Facebook is for reaching people on a personal level.
Is Twitter right for you?
Good for: Community centric organisations, fashion industries, businesses with lots of specials and offers, restaurants, jewellery and gift shops.
User market share: 56% of people using Twitter are females, mainly between the ages of 31-49. Males are close behind.
What to do: Share links to your website that are actually relevant to what your audience want to hear, eg. a link to a latest special or news/event. Find people who tweet about closely related topics and follow them. Engage in questions and conversations. Add a Twitter feed (or just a link) to your website.
Is LinkedIn right for you?
Good for: legal professions, accountants, businesses with qualifications, professional trades, speakers, consultants, ‘experts’, businesses needing to link to similar businesses for networking.
User market share: Males and females, slightly skewed more towards male age 25-54.
What to do: Create a LinkedIn profile and fill out every detail as much as you can. Find people you know on linked in and connect to industry faces. Share relevant content with your connections or groups (like advice or news) and show your expert knowledge by answering questions others ask. Create a group you can lead and generate discussions about your industry.
What not to do: upload frivolous photos of your pets or content irrelevant to your industry.
Is Google+ right for you?
Good for: tech industries, designers, web developers, students, software developers, computer technicians, businesses marketing to vertical leads, businesses marketing relatively locally, computer shops, anybody in IT, local tradies, construction, marketers.
User market share: 70% males.
What to do: Create a Google+ profile, fill in your details, create a Google+ Local page for your business, enter all details for that including location and contact details. Connect to your friends, competitors and industry bodies. Organise your contacts into groups and market to each separately. Start conversations by alerting people to them (by putting a + before their names). Share insight, blog posts and answer industry questions. Add a Connect to Me on Google+ link on your website.
Is Pinterest right for you?
Good for: Ecommerce sites, fashion shops, jewellery and gift shops, fabric and textile shops, sculptors, artists, painters, photographers, visually inclined businesses, video producers, trendsetters, crafts, hobbies, design, businesses with lots of photo-based news and events to share.
User market share: 80% females, 20% males. 50% of users have kids. Mostly age group 35-44
What to do: Set up your Pinterest profile and link it to your website in the Goodies section. Put up nice shots of your products and store, and get friends to pin them (and pin your friends’ images too.) If you have Facebook, add Pinterest to your Facebook Page timeline (directions are found in the Edit Profile section of Pinterest). Create some useful ‘how-to’ tips and tricks videos and pin them to your board.
What not to do: Pinterest is primarily a social website where users share their interests, its rules state that it is not to be used for commercial purposes. Marketing on Pinterest should be taken carefully, to avoid spamming or direct sales.
We hope you’ve gathered some ammunition to kickstart your online campaign. Stay tuned for part 2, with more cool tips on boosting your business online, DIY style!