Over 30 ways to promote your NI Business
Here’s a few suggestions on how to market your business online. All these strategies might not suit your business but hopefully it’ll give you one or two ideas on how to strengthen your online profile and generate more business. Most of them should be fairly easy to understand.
1. If your business is a local business, then when people do a local search using regional terms why not benefit from a listing appearing at the top of Google. Promote your business on Google Local, it’s free!
2. Add your site to 4NI and make sure that you get the best out of a 4NI listing. Choose your copy carefully, add images, and make your listing as enticing as possible. Don’t just slap up a 4 line paragraph of untargeted terms. 4NI dominates the local search landscape and can drive quality traffic to your site. At £200 plus for a search optimised listing it’s certainly not cheap but worth while.
3. Make sure you site is Google friendly. If you want to promote your site on Google then consider hiring a web design company that understands the importance of on-site Search Engine Optimisation, either that or pay heavily later. If your site hasn’t been optimised for Google then get it redone.
4. Make use of Pay Per Click. Pay Per Click has it’s benefits and although it can be expensive it can provide a good return on your investment provided it’s done well. It can also work very well with a targeted SEO and Local Search campaign. 3 pieces of real estate on the front page of Google for your main keyword terms increases your company’s credibility and chances of a lead.
5. Include local regional keywords in your page title, keyword and content. One of the biggest mistakes or missed opportunities that I see time and time again is local business websites leaving out regional terms. If you don’t let Google know that your site is a local pizza restaurant in Belfast, then you’ll struggle to reach your online market.
6. Your website is your 24/7 online shop window. If the average lifespan of a business website is 4 to 5 years then judge your budget accordingly. A £500 website isn’t going to cut the mustard in most sectors. Invest in a great design, it’ll reflect positively on your company image.
7. Create the best content that you can. If you can’t write and have a large enough budget then hire a copywriter. Use the best images you can, offer the best advice you can. Creat the best product your can, offer the best support you can.
8. Besides 4NI, add your site to other local and niche directories that approve listings editorially. These still have value not just with Google but can also bring you targeted visitors.
One such up and coming directory is lookaly.com. Maybe I’ll write a bit more about some of the new local directories in an article I have in the pipeline about the next ‘4NI killer’. When adding a listing make sure to write unique and good descriptions about your company and it’s services, sell your business.
9. Search the top 100 or so listings for your primary keywords, if you can’t get listed in Google for your primary terms then get listed on the sites and directories that are listed. If you have to pay for a listing then so be it. Raise your profile on sites other than yours that you target market visit.
10. Contact the site owners of relevant sites, write a personal email with details of who you are and what you do. Why should they link back to your site, have you great content that their users can benefit from, what’s your angle? Don’t send automated emails to all and sundry.
11. Get links from other sites with keyword rich anchor text. For instance this is my ‘Belfast Web Design Company’ rather than ‘Click Here’. The text used in the first instance is more descriptive anchor text and a stronger indicator to a search engine about the relevancy of the web page.
12. Use video to promote your business. Even I’ve started using video for web marketing. Text works, but video can work even better, it helps raise your profile, personalises your site and connects with your audience. You might want to think about using video on your ‘about us’ page.
13. Use photographs, photographs are another way that help personalise your company. It helps people put a name to a face.
14. Take advantage of sites that let you build an online profile. Create a Linkedin account. At the moment Linkedin offers you the opportunity to have 3 follow links. If anyone wants to make a connection with me on linkedin then email me.
15. Start a testimonial strategy. Ask your clients for reviews. If you’ve offered a good service, product then why not ask your client for a review. Don’t just post them on your site, ask your clients to post them on sites such as Google. Google Local offers your clients the opportunity to post reviews so the more visibility the better. Make sure the reviews are credible and authentic.
16. Participate in forums related to your business. Contribute with valuable replies rather than just one or two lines replies. The more you offer the more you’ll benefit. It takes time but if you add value and become a respected member then the more business you’ll be able to drum up and the more referrals and bigger your network will be. You might even get links back to your site.
17. Use forum signatures, it’s free advertsing. There are plenty of online business forums, check out UKBusinessForums. It even has it’s own N.Ireland section.
18. Use classified sites such as Gumtree. Gumtree offers free business listings and is another great way to promote some businesses. Listings can rank highly in Google.
19. Start a blog. If you have time and enjoy writing create a blog, post news, events, how to’s, lists and advice. Create valuable content, just don’t post any old nonsense. Blogs are a great way to build up your authority in your niche, a way to get backlinks both to your blog and your main site. It also allows you to cast a wide net for search terms in Google that your target audience might use.
20. Blog comment. Contribute to blogs within your industry, build up friendships, add value blog posts, again not just one liners, create controversy, offer opinion, add to the debate.
21. Bookmark your site, make it easy for others to bookmark your site on social bookmarking sites such as delicious.com. If you have a blog then add a plugin such as socialable that makes it easier for your readers to bookmark.
22. Use RSS feeds if you can. WordPress and other blog formats have a built in RSS feed. People can subscribe to your feeds from one central location such as Google Reader rather than having to visit all the sites they subscribe to individually.
23. Network and build online relationships with people. Engage with others and you’ll get links, referrals, business insights and advice. I’ve certainly learnt a lot from the contributions of other’s within the Irish SEO community including Richard Hearne, Redfly Marketing and Paul.
24. Promote other businesses that you can vouch for and they’ll return the favour.
25. Link with businesses in your niche. Avoid useless and excessive reciprocal linking schemes but swap links with businesses than can benefit your users and that help you build up relationships and referrals from your sector. No need to go overboard and link with your competitors, but if you’re a wedding cake maker then why not link with a wedding videographer
26. Create and use a signature in your email.
27. Create an email marketing campaign. Collect the emails of all your clients, all those you have sold too and periodically send them an email with company updates, product updates, offers. Although I haven’t extensive use, Campaign monitor looks like a great email marketing system.
28. You might want to pick a hosting company that is within your target region. So if you’re targeting the UK, go for a UK hosting company, or a .co.uk domain. If you do go for a .com or .net then you can still set the regional settings to UK in Google Webmaster Tools.
29. Offer a competition, freebie, or free business advice. An excellent example of this recently was local wedding photographer Peter Thomas who ran a competition to win wedding photos and by all accounts there was a tremendous response. I’ve also tried this tactic in a number of different shapes and sizes including offering free membership software from a programming site that I run.
30. Monitor your online reputation, if someone posts a negative comment about you then reply, be polite and address the situation, don’t avoid it and just leave a negative comment that could come up when someone does a search for your company. Be proactive. There’ll always be negative comments, it’s not nice but it’s not the end of the world. Most people can see through negative comments if they don’t have any value and are just a personal attack or someone with nothing better to do.
31. If you’re really brave, then attend events, speak at events and you’ll get reference links back to your site.
Try some of these for starters, invest your time and money and you’ll reap the benefits.