Starting A Business? Here’s How To Get Started With Your Online Marketing And SEO
- Buy a domain name. For some businesses, it might make sense to purchase a really premium domain name (which will cost you a premium price). Premium domain names will be easier for your customers to remember. They can also be easier to get ranked in Google. Despite some Google updates that minimized the impact of keyword rich domains, if you want to rank for the keyword “buy red sweaters online,” then the domain “buyredsweatersonline.com” will still give you a huge advantage in terms of ranking for that term. Buying a premium domain is not a necessity though; you can easily just register something that no one else has purchased on Godaddy for about $10 a year.
- Get someone to build your website. Yes, there are do-it-yourself website options out there, but if you want to really come across as a professional, it’s best to have a professional build it for you. Think of all of the pages and functionality that you desire and then get some quotes from a few design companies.
- Sign up for hosting. Someone needs to publish your website files to the internet. We usually recommend the Hostgator business package as it’s affordable, and you get your own IP address (helps with SEO) and https (helps keep site secure and also helps with SEO): hostgator.com/web-hosting.
- Get an office. For most small, local businesses (as opposed to a site that’s marketing nationwide such as an ecommerce site), having an office will be an absolute necessity, if for no other reason than having an office with a sign on the door will enable you to create a Google Maps listing. The Google Maps listings results show up at the top of the search results for the vast majority of local searches. So if you’re targeting local keyword terms (i.e. “Dallas landcaping,” “Seattle criminal lawyer,” etc.) then you’ll definitely need an office. Google won’t approve of virtual offices; get permanent office space with a sign on your door or in front of the building.
- Sign up for the major directories. Once you have your website live and office set up, it’s time to start marketing. Be sure to create profiles on all of the major sites such as Google Maps, Yelp, Angie’s List, etc. Completely fill out the profiles and upload photos of your office, your products, etc.
- Look for niche directories. Look for other websites that your customers would use to find the product or service that you offer and sign up there as well. For example, counselors would want to sign up for sites like theravive.com and goodtherapy.org. Attorneys definitely want to sign up for hg.com, lawyers.com and sites like that.
- Build reviews. Reviews will often be the difference between your company succeeding and flourishing versus failing and going out of business. I will say it again because it’s that important and it’s the truth: “REVIEWS WILL OFTEN BE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOUR COMPANY SUCCEEDING AND FLOURISHING VERSUS FAILING AND GOING OUT OF BUSINESS.” I am not talking about testimonials posted on your website; I am talking about getting reviews on sites like Google, Yelp and Facebook. Lots of online reviews will greatly increase your visibility online and your conversion rate. A really quick and obvious example: someone gets locked out of their house and needs a locksmith. They whip out their smartphone and type “locksmith” into Google. The company that has the highest quantity of positive reviews that shows up at the top of Google is going to get the call right then and there! For businesses that are just getting started, even if you’re working at a break even price or losing money on jobs, if you can get a positive review out of the deal, it’s going to be worth it to take most jobs and get the ball rolling. The best solution for more established companies to get reviews is ReviewShepherd.
- Paid search (PPC) – Not all businesses will be profitable on Google Adwords but it’s certainly worth a shot. The benefit of paid search is that you get traffic instantly. With SEO, it would take a long time and lots of resources to rank at the top of Google for a keyword like “Boston real estate,” but with paid search, if you’re willing to pay enough per click, you can show up at the top on day one. Many businesses achieve a high ROI with PPC. Almost any new business should give it a shot. PPC could be your goldmine.
- SEO – When done right, SEO often has by far the highest ROI of any marketing activity (and it’s often not even close). Many, many small business owners try to do their own SEO and most fail miserably. If you read a few books on the subject you’ll learn a lot, and you might feel like you know what you’re doing, but odds are you will not. Optimizing the actual website code usually isn’t overly difficult (even though many still struggle with it). Where most business owners fall short is the link building. If you’re targeting keywords with any competition whatsoever, you’re never going to rank high without high quality links. This is where hiring a really good SEO company comes into play; they will have connections, resources and knowledge that most business owners will never have. If you try to do link building on your own, the odds are high that you’re going to get yourself penalized. For 99.9% of small business owners, managing your own SEO is going to be a bad idea. If you still insist on giving your own SEO a shot, we just have one major piece of advice for you. Don’t ever engage in any type of spammy or automated link building. If you ever see anything like “20 High Authority Links For Just $10,” and start to think to yourself “Huh… maybe link building isn’t so hard after all”… DON’T DO IT. RUN FOR THE HILLS. You’re likely going to get yourself penalized and it will be much more difficult and expensive for an SEO company to dig you out of that hole.
- Social media – Kind of a necessary evil in our opinion. It’s a factor in Google’s algorithm so it helps with SEO. Many of your customers will expect to see some kind of a social presence, so it can harm your conversion rate if you ignore social completely. Most companies aren’t profitable on social, which is why we aren’t a huge fan of it. Some companies do well with Facebook ads but many will struggle to turn a profit on them. Sign your company up for at least a Google+, Facebook and a Twitter account at a minimum, make the occasional post and try to drum up some likes/ followers. Again, it’s highly unlikely that social is ever going to be a foundation of your marketing strategy and consistently drive a lot of business for your company, but it’s something that shouldn’t be completely ignored either.
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