Now that you’ve built and optimized your web site, there are some additional advertising and marketing activities that you can do in the first 3-6 months of launching your new website to get your traffic and sales kick-started.
But before we get started, let’s run through a quick checklist to make sure that you’re on track with your website before we proceed:
- Is your website fully built out?
- Is it attractive and user-friendly?
- Have you done your keyword research and employed those keywords on your pages?
- Is the content or information on your site good quality and appropriate for your target audience?
- Have you employed the SEO basics that we previously discussed for optimizing your web site?
Assuming that you’ve accomplished these or are well on your way, we can move forward with some cost-effective marketing and advertising activities. The next thing that you’ll need to do after completing the list above is establish a marketing budget for the launch of your website. Some of the items outlined below are free but will require some time to implement. Other items will charge upfront fees as well as monthly ongoing fees. Regardless of the cost, we’re going to assume that your initial marketing budget will be modest so we’ll make recommendations that will help minimize your expenses for these items.
Install a Web Analytics Program on Your Website
The first thing you should do after getting your website built out is to install Google Analytics on your web site. You’ll need a way to track and analyze your website over time and Google Analytics will provide critical information about where your visitors are coming from, which keywords and pages are resulting in the most sales, and a ton of other information that can help you to improve the performance of your site over time.
Many first time website owners might be thinking: “Why do I need a fancy web analytics program if my site will only be a few pages?” Well, don’t kid yourself about the need for a web analytics program because it will be vital no matter what the size of your website will be. Valuable information can be gained even from the smallest websites by using information gained from analytics data. Many analytics programs will provide far more information than most small businesses will ever need, but Google Analytics is free to use. You simply register for a free account and then install a small piece of code at the bottom of your pages. For small business owners starting out with a limited budget, Google Analytics is the web metrics application of choice.
Start a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising Campaign
Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is a great way to help start driving traffic to your site right away. Generally speaking, optimizing your web site and trying to get ranked in the organic (free) search results can take some time to accomplish. In competitive categories, it can take years to get highly ranked. But with a PPC campaign, you can start generating traffic almost immediately. You only pay when someone clicks on your ads, making it a far more efficient way to advertise than most traditional marketing methods.
Benefits of a PPC Campaign:
- Provides instant visibility and immediate traffic.
- Allows for geo-targeting which is highly effective for small localized businesses.
- Effective even with the smallest advertising budgets.
- Provides valuable keyword data which is useful for optimizing your site
Write and Distribute a Press Release(s)
Press releases give small business owners the opportunity to get the word out about their new business and notify news and media outlets, both locally and nationally, about what their new business has to offer. You’ll need to use many of the same SEO copywriting principles that you would use for any web page — emphasizing the appropriate use of keywords in both the title and body of the press release — but writing a press release also requires a specific writing style that should be closely adhered to.
Rules for writing a press release include the following:
- Should be newsworthy; it’s not an advertising vehicle
- Avoid excessive self-promotion
- Stick with “just the facts”: the who, what, why, where and how of your business
- Write a “catchy” and inviting headline
You can find more detailed information and expert advice on how to write a press release from various press release distribution services as well.
Press release distribution services give you an opportunity to alert publishers and news outlets about your company in a highly efficient manner. If you’re on a tight budget, the entry level pricing is perfectly suitable for most small businesses. The higher price points will provide more even more visibility for your press release at more media outlets, so if you can afford it, you should take that route.
Add a Blog to Your Site
Search engines love blogs. Blogs utilize a publishing platform that feeds the search engines fresh, new content called “spider food”. Blogging software was originally designed as an easy way for website owners to self-publish, but blogging software, such as WordPress and Typepad, has now morphed into the content management systems of choice for many site owners and publishers. The software can easily be customized to look like a regular website making the platform one of the best ways to promote and engage in ongoing conversation with your customers and contribute in a meaningful way to your business community. Did I mention that search engines love them?
I prefer WordPress. It’s the industry standard for blogging platforms, it’s free, and it’s so easy to install. Typically, it takes a while for a blog to build momentum and gain readership, but if you post consistently with unique, helpful or informative content, you can build loyalty and your readership very quickly. The main point to remember about blogging is to commit to doing it consistently. If you can’t contribute regularly or don’t have enough confidence in your own writing ability, hire a good freelance writer to do the job for you. There are tons of great writers out there who can blog and do so at an affordable price. You should make it one of your top priorities to get in a rhythm and contribute to your blog consistently.
Be Active in Your Blogging Community
If you want to build authority in your business segment, you should try to build your reputation in the blogging community. If your site is focused on recipes, for example, do a Google search on recipe + blogs and you’ll get a good list of recipe blogs as a starting point. Check out these blogs and subscribe to the RSS feeds of the best or most interesting ones. Read their posts and start contributing to the recipe “community” by commenting on them. Make sure your comments are relevant to the post, and make sure, above all else, that you are actually contributing to the conversation in a meaningful way. Avoid commenting with such things as “Great post!” or “I like your blog”. Those type of comments are considered “comment spam” and do not contribute to the conversation. You will only hurt your credibility if you engage in this type of comment spamming. Don’t be lazy… contribute some meaningful dialogue to your community.
Write and Contribute Informative Articles
The Web is really all about limitless access to information. Nothing since the printing press has provided a more efficient means to distribute information so broadly and so easily. Contributing great information within your business community or sphere of influence should be a top priority if you want to establish authority in your niche. SEO experts talk about the value of authoritative articles and quality content that tends to attract the most links in a given category. Focus on generating unique, quality content. Over time, it will pay off.
You can contribute content in a variety of ways. First and foremost, you should be adding content to your own site or blog regularly with new posts and fresh content (see above) as often as possible. You need to give your readers and those search engine spiders a reason to keep coming back to your site.
Second, you can offer to write a guest post on other top blogs in your niche. The best bloggers are always looking to add fresh content and most will readily take you up on your offer of a guest contribution. Make sure the article that you’re contributing is more than just adequate – make it useful, meaningful and relevant. Be sure to include an author “bio” with the article that includes a link back to your site.
Lastly, you can also contribute content by using article marketing and syndication. Article marketing is a highly effective way to draw targeted traffic to your website. You can also build a few links as well as many article directories provide an opportunity to place a link in their author bios as well.
Here are some quick and fast rules about article marketing:
- Write an article that is unique, useful and meaningful.
- Don’t rehash old articles or topics that have thousands of articles written already.
- Keep your writing style concise, lean and easy to understand.
- Employ a title in your article that will grab your readers attention.
You should submit these articles to a few of the best article directories for distribution. Webmasters who need content can go into these article directories and grab content to post on their websites as long as they agree to properly “attribute” the content with a link back to the author who wrote it.
Don’t overdo your article submission by submitting to hundreds and hundreds of article directories. Stick with the top directories when submitting your articles. Here’s a short list of the top article directories to submit to:
- Small Business Information at About.com
For more on how to utilize article marketing for targeted traffic and link building, click here.
Get Listed in Relevant Directories
You should utilize online directories that are relevant to your business to get listed online right away. The most recognized directories are Yahoo, DMOZ and BOTW.org. At $299 per year, getting listed on the Yahoo Directory is expensive, but should almost be considered mandatory. BOTW.org is one of the most affordable options and should also be strongly considered at the top of any directory list. DMOZ is free to get listed but their listing criteria are rigorous and wait times are excruciatingly long. Nevertheless, it’s still worth it to submit to DMOZ for inclusion.
There are also numerous free directories specific to your industry that you can get listed on with a little bit of effort. To find a list of directories in your business, do a Google search with your primary keyword and the word “directory” to find relevant sites that will list you. For instance, if you were operating a bird watching site, you could do several Google searches like this to find potential directories:
- “bird watching” + directory
- “bird watching” + directories
- “bird watching” + free directory
- “bird watching” + free directories
Look for the “Add URL” or “Submit Site” link on the page in these directories to start the listing process. Keep in mind, however, you need to take a close look at any directory that you submit to and make sure that the directory is legitimate and relevant.
Take Advantage of Local Search
Getting listed in the local search results is an important but oft overlooked marketing component for any small business. I’d start with Google, Yahoo, MSN and BOTW for your first local listing submissions:
You should also submit to the DMOZ Regional Directory. Just do a search in DMOZ on your specific city and submit to your regional or city specific directory. Expect to wait awhile to get listed on DMOZ – it’s run by volunteers so the process can take some time.
Next, you can submit your business to other local data providers that local search engines will crawl for citations to validate or correct your local business information in their own indexes. The following is a great list of local business listing sites
Lastly, do a search for local directories in your city or town:
- “your city” + directory
- “your city” + directories
- “your city” + free directory
- “your city” + free directories
These free local directories are very important because they are city and region specific which is very important for local search marketing optimization.
Join & Contribute to Relevant Discussion Boards + Forums
One of the things that you should also do is start participating in relevant discussion boards and forums on your topic. Do a search for relevant forums and discussion boards in the same way that you find relevant blogs and directories for your topic of interest:
- “your_primary_keyword” + forum
- “your_primary_keyword” + forums
Check out the topics of discussion and if you find an area of conversation on the forum that you have an opinion on or point of view, submit a reply on the forum. Many forums will require registration to submit comments, but also will allow you to setup a “signature file” with a link back to your website that will be included at the bottom of your reply. The same thing that applies to blog commenting applies to forum commenting – be sure that your replies to the comments on the forum are relevant to the discussion and contribute in some way to the conversation. Commenting on forums in a timely and relevant manner will build your authority on the topic in the eyes of your community while also generating sales prospects and new business.
Join Twitter and Facebook
Joining Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are an opportunity to network and meet with people who may be good contacts and/or future customers. But rather than signing up and promoting your business right off the bat with these social networking sites, spend the first month just hanging around, learning the rules of the road and participating in conversations with people. Taking advantage of social media is a topic unto itself, but you can start by observing how 3 of the most popular social media sites work.
Join Your Local Chamber of Commerce
Small businesses rely heavily on networking and word-of-mouth for survival. Joining your local Chamber of Commerce is a great way to do both. After joining, ask for a link to your business from the chamber’s web site, as well as a mention in their newsletter.
Let’s move on to Step 11 …
Developing an Idea for Your Business Developing Your Business Plan Choose a Business Structure Opening a Business Checking Account Choosing Your Domain Name Selecting a Web Host Building Your Web Site How to Accept Credit Cards Without a Merchant Account Optimize Your Web Site for Search Engines Advertising and Marketing Your Business
- Accounting and Financial Management for New Business Owners