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One of the really unfortunate facts that you have to face when you start a small business is that you have a myriad of things that you need to get and to do but you only have a limited supply of cash. This means that you need to ration the amount of money that you spend on different categories of expenditure. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases the bulk of the money ends up going on your initial set up of your office, your equipment, your website and vehicles etc. THere is generally very little left for the actual marketing of your new business. Here are 5 quite reasonable ways that you can market your small business via the internet without actually spending any money.

1) Free online directories

There are a whole range of free directories available in Australia. Some of these are really good, some are average and others are probably not worth worrying about. The easiest way to find a list of these free directories is simply to do a Google search for "Top free directories Australia" and compare some of the results that you get. While some of the search results will show directories that SEO guys are simply tring to promote, if you compare 3 or 4 of the lists you will likely see some recurring entries. These will be directories like Truelocal, Hotfrog, Aussieweb and Startlocal. In the past I have found each of these to be quite professional in there approach (although there are probably a lot of others now).

Once you have decided on which directories you are going to use you need to look at setting up an entry in each. Don't rush this process, spend a bit of time crafting a description and uploading a few images if you can. This will always help in terms of building trust with your visitors and will prompt them to visit your website. Also, always make sure that you include a link to your website as one of the major aims here is to drive traffic back to your site. When entering email addresses and phone numbers in the directories, try to use the email addresses and phone numbers that you use on your website. It is important to keep these items uniform across a range of media.

2) Get your SEO working

SEO is key to driving traffic to your website and is key to generating business from your online presence. SEO stands for search engine optimisation and basically means structuring your website and links coming back to your website in the optimal way for the search engines to not only find your website but also to rank that website higher than your competitors. Whilst it may initially appear a little daunting, once you get into the structure and concepts you should be able to make some decent improvements to your traffic and conversions. SEO itself is usually broken down between what is called on-page SEO and off-page SEO. On-page SEO refers to the work that you can do to the structure and content of your actual site while off-page SEO is work that is done on other people's sites.

Whilst it is relatively free to do SEO, it will take up quite a bit of time. If you do not know anything at all about SEO then don't worry, there are hundreds (or potentially thousands) of videos and articles out there that will teach you about both on-page and off-page. Before you go trawling through all of this content however (as a lot of it can be useless or damaging) we would suggest starting with some of the experts in the field. We would suggest getting on to the Moz site or the Searchengineland site and reading through some of their introductory content. That way you will be given a good starting point. It is also worth remembering that the Google and Bing algorithms change constantly, so content that was written 5 years ago is probably not going to be so relevant today.

As mentioned previously, on-page SEO is the work that can be done on your site to help it to rank better. This work can include getting your page names right, have the right meta title in place (at the right length), have a good heading structure and having adequate mentions of your main keyword. It can also include how you link internally to separate pages, alt text that you input for your images and how well you craft the pages.

Off-page SEO refers to links that you have coming back to your site from other peoples sites. Back in the old days, people used to build thousands of poor quality links to their sites and because they had these thousands of links they managed to rank. Google has put a stop to these practices and now focuses more on quality links and links from sites that are from a similar theme to your site. Before you attempt any off-site link building, you should make sure that you have a thorough understanding of the rules and the potential consequences if things go wrong.

3) Focus on your local marketing

Local marketing generally refers to Google Maps and Google My Business. These listings are the ones that you will see in the Google Map when you do a search. Getting one of these listings is free and all that you need to do is go through your individual or business account with Google and set up a location. Similar to the directory listings our advice is that you should spend a bit of time crafting your account to make it look as good as possible. Spend a bit of time uploading images to your site and upload your logo etc. You should also take a lot of care to make sure that all of your phone numbers, addresses and email addresses align with the ones that you have on your website. Once you account is set up you should promote it on your website and encourage your customers to leave reviews on the site. One of the ways that Google ranks these locations is based on the number of reviews that you have so it makes sense to encourage people to use the site.

4) Social Media

Social media is another great way to drive traffic to your website and to generate business. When setting up your social media accounts it is important to get a consistent theme across all of your sites. ie, you should use the same colour scheme, the same logo, the same fonts etc. If you are not particularly good at design or if you don't have the time to get it all aligned then it may be an idea to pay your designer to create the imagery that you are going to use.

The type of social media accounts that you set up will depend on the type of business that you operate. Facebook is probably a medium that is suitable for all small businesses these days however linkedin might be more appropriate to professional service companies or recruitment firms. Sites like Twitter and Pintrest may also be more suite to service based companies.

Once you have your social media accounts in place you need to start adding content and posting about your industry or your business. Try not to make it too dry and try to schedule in your posts rather than putting them all up at once.

5) Networking events

Networking events are a great way to get the word out about your business. Always make sure that you have plenty of business cards with you to hand out to people that you meet. If your business is a local based business then it may be an idea to look for any local events that are taking place around where you live. The events don't necessarily have to be anything to do with your particular business, they could be about anything however they need to involve getting a group of people together who are in your target demographic.

Summing Up

Marketing does not necessarily need to be expensive. With a little bit of thought and some dedicated time you should be able to generate some serious interest in your business by pursuing some of the free options that are available. Remember though, regardless of what medium you are setting up content in, whether it be free directories, Google Maps or anything else, you should always ensure that you get continuity and consistency across all of these accounts. It is extremely important to ensure that your address, telephone number, email address and website URL all match up.

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