At one time getting marketing exposure for a small business wasn’t too hard. The owner could write a release, or hire someone, send it out to media outlets, and the local audience would respond accordingly. Not only did this help raise awareness for the business, it helped build sales.
It seems much more difficult to build name recognition with the internet. Most marketing experts say that the way to go now is Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. These are techniques that help get your small business in front of prospects at the exact moment they look online for the product or service you offer. While it is important that your website appears in search engine results, it doesn’t exclude PR possibilities. Here are tips that will help your small business incorporate SEO, while building up more exposure for your business online:
• Start with your website: Balance the creative and content parts of your site so that it is functional and effective. Think of it as your own private newspaper, with important news items right up front, and headlines that move the story along. This builds usability and search-ability.
• Know your keywords: Develop a list of words prospective customers might type into the search engine bar when they need your product or service, and then make sure those words occur naturally in your website content. You can’t just add a list of keywords, but it doesn’t hurt to have a heading like “best barber in Buffalo.”
• Be responsive: Your prospects have a need and your website had better demonstrate how you can solve it, or any visitors will quickly move on. Make sure your value proposition is front and center, write clear content that provides benefits to the reader, and use plenty of visuals. Have prominent contact information, and make it easy to buy what you’re selling online.
• Social support: Social media adds substance and depth to what your website presents. Facebook and Twitter can be used to provide bits of information and drive more visitors to your website. Search results often include a website, LinkedIn article, or Facebook post for a single business.
• Build links: Link to other sites that complement your business, and ask them to link to your content as well. This helps to build your online credibility. Don’t go low-brow trying to get as many links as you can; stick to the high road and provide a quality back-and-forth experience.
• Get reviewed: If current customers are happy with your product or service, you can include their testimonials on your own site, but also ask them to review you on appropriate rating sites. Look at what is available locally to help people find businesses, and make sure your info is correct in national sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor.
You can still send out releases to local media, but SEO will really provide the online bump your small business needs to succeed.