Now more than ever, your business needs to be found easily online by your customers and potential customers. The purpose of this article is to break down the basics so you can review where your online presence is currently at and areas you can work on.
Company website - Obviously, it is necessary to have a website if you want to rank on any search engine. However, you do not need to drop a fortune on an expensive website when starting your small business. Website costs can range from under $500 to over $10000, and if you are just starting out, chances are your site, and your business concept will evolve, which means you may not necessarily need all the bells and whistles that can feature on a website. Simple and clean layout, great pictures and excellent web copy should be enough to get started. After a while, you will begin to see what works and what doesn't and you can upgrade your site from there.
Now assuming you already have a website here are some tips and tricks you can do yourself to improve your search engine ranking;
Free business listings guides - register your business on free listings sites. This is a great way to build backlinks to promote your website in New Zealand. Here are my top 4 sites to get you started
Social Media - there is an evergrowing list of social platforms and some appeal more to different demographics. So which to chose
Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram etc.? I get asked this question a lot, and my advice to small businesses is this; while there is no hard and fast rule, it is better to be great on 1 or 2 platforms than it is to be mediocre over several. No matter which platform you chose, social media plays a vital role in promoting, networking sharing and educating your clients.
Blogging - this one gets a lot of my clients "eye-rolling" at the thought, but it really is a crucial part of any online strategy. Blogging makes your site more attractive to search engines because your website is continually being updated with new and valuable information. According to Hubspot;
"small businesses with a blog receive 55% more website visitors."
Optimise your website - we talked earlier about the importance of just having a website to get up and running, now it is time to fine-tune your website for even better performance. At the risk of sounding too nerdy and losing your interest, essentially there are 2 types of website optimisation onsite and offsite. Free business listings are a form of offsite optimisation, but here I will provide you with a small list of onsite optimisation tasks that you should be able to do yourself.
Keywords - your website needs to contain the terms and phrases your customers use to find your goods or service. These phrases and words can change over time or may not be as apparent as you think so using a tool such as Google Keyword Planner can help. Once you have these phrases, you need to make sure they are incorporated into your web copy.
Website loading speed - nothing loses eyeballs quicker than a slow loading website - try https://gtmetrix.com to check your score.
Check Headline tags, meta descriptions and image alt tags. Sorry if I'm starting to lose you here this is something you need to discuss with your developer. However, in essence, all of your headings should be labelled H1, H2 or H3 to be noticed by search engine algorithms, images should also be labelled for the same reason, and meta tags are page descriptions that should contain relevant keywords.
SEM and PPC - nothing like a couple of acronyms to win back your concentration and this one might be considered a little controversial for low-cost ways to promote your business online but if you have done all the steps listed above you should be ready for this step. Paid ads can drive a lot of traffic to your site very quickly, but of course, this does come at a cost, and you must have your house in excellent working order before you invite a bunch of strangers around to view the place.
The steps I have outlined above are a great foundation to get your online house in order, but it is essential to remember that online marketing is never complete. It should be considered as part of an ongoing weekly or monthly activity that can reap enormous rewards for your business when done correctly and consistently.
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