Thanks to OrangeSoda for this great article.
You don’t need to assume that marketing your company takes a lot of money. Thanks to the Internet, there are tons of free tips out there to help you. With minimal research, you can implement several of these options on your own. There are many merits to hiring a company to handle your overall SEO and PPC campaigns, but there are a few basic things you can take care of yourself before passing things off to the big guys.
Evaluate Your Website
You should look over your website every few months at the least to make sure things are running smoothly and you are getting the traffic that you want. Things like slow load times, typos throughout content, old and outdated content, etc. will prevent the user from having an enjoyable experience and could cost you thousands of dollars in revenue. There are many “check lists” out there that can help you identify some common problems, but here is a condensed list of the things we think are most important.
Check to see if you have a Sitemap.
Think of your Sitemap as a menu. At a restaurant, you expect to see a menu before you order, right? A Sitemap is a “menu” for search engine crawlers—the crawler can see everything you have (pages, links, and videos) and collects the information for future searches. Google, in particular, emphasizes the importance of this feature. Here is a simple tutorial to find out if your webmaster published a Sitemap, and if you find out you don’t have one, do a simple search like, “How to install a Sitemap” and you’ll get tons of results.
Verify that you have Title Tags.
Every page on your website should have a Title Tag. If you are unfamiliar, this is the tagline or the text that shows on the search engine results page. (See picture below.)
The Title Tag will also show up if you hover over the page/tab you’re in. As you can see, this effectively names your page and allows search engines to recognize what the page is about.
Your Title Tag MUST match what you actually talk about on the page. You will be penalized if you use hot topics to start ranking for something but it doesn’t match what is on your site. Hummingbird is all about giving the searcher what (s)he really wants and if you’re trying to trick people, that won’t fly.
Check for duplicate content.
You may have created your website in a hurry or didn’t have time to write unique content for every page. That would’ve been fine a few years ago, but these days won’t do you any good. Duplicate content throughout your site can hurt you in search engine rankings. There are many online tools that can help you find duplicate content and when you have more time, you can replace it with new, fresh content.
Get on the Social Media Train
These days you need more publicity than your website offers you. You need to board the social media train. This is a (relatively) easy and FREE tool that you have been missing out on. Choose the outlets where your customers are. For example, if you own a boutique, Instagram is probably one of your best tools. You can take pictures of your shop, your customers, new arrivals, and advertise your promotions for free! If you offer contractor services, you may want to put your information on some local directories instead of the Instagram route.
Making accounts, creating pages, followed by engaging your crowd on social media opens so many doors for your business. You seem more approachable, more personable, and clients can easily recommend you. You can promote sales, coupons, and new blog posts easily and for free.
There aren’t any good excuses if you aren’t on social media already because it is very easy. Here are some instructions for popular platforms:
How to create a Facebook page.
How to sign up with Twitter.
Create an Instagram account.
Add your business to Yelp.
Feel free to branch out from the typical sites if you work in a niche industry or you feel other sites would best serve your clients.
Use (Positive) Testimonials for All They Are Worth
Most people say the highest compliment is a referral. Whether it’s by word of mouth or over social media, client opinions matter and you can use this to power your marketing. Many consumers conduct research before they hire someone for a job. The best way you can answer immediate questions about your services is through your website content, but the best way you can answer questions about quality of work and follow-through is by displaying testimonials (or case studies) proudly because:
Testimonials build trust
Testimonials aren’t sales-y
Testimonials overcome skepticism
Make sure your new visitors know where they can go to view testimonials or get more information from your previous clients. Publicize testimonials tactfully on your social media outlets and websites. Used correctly, testimonials will prove to be one of your best marketing tactics—and it’s free!