Setting up a website or an ecommerce site is essential if you want your business to succeed in this day and age. However, once your website is live the hard work doesn’t end there. In today’s fast-moving digital world, businesses need to invest considerable time and energy into marketing and increasing their brand awareness online. The internet has made it much easier for businesses to market themselves; but it’s also much easier for a small business to get lost amongst the hundreds and thousands of other sites competing for the top spot in search engine results and website traffic. No matter how much time or money you have available for marketing, there are a number of ways that you can get noticed online by both customers and search engines… Social media Whether you love it or hate it, it certainly looks like social media is here to stay; and as the old adage goes, if you can’t beat them, join them! It’s beneficial for your business to make use of more than one form of social media in order to reach out to more potential and existing customers. Whether you’re organising an event or promoting a new product, here are our top tips for using social media in your marketing campaign: Facebook: Over 1.3 billion people use Facebook, so it has fantastic reach for businesses. Set up a business page and start posting photos, videos, updates, viral content etc, and the analytics function will let you know how many people you’re reaching. Push your posts further with paid advertising. Twitter: With 288 million users and rising, Twitter is a really quick and easy way to engage with your customers instantly. Paid tweets work in a similar way to Google’s AdWords, or Facebook’s paid advertising feature, allowing you to reach potential customers easily. Google plus: Google’s social media platform may not have taken off as well as they’d liked with users, but businesses with a G+ presence will have access to Google Local and will fare much better in the search engine rankings than those without a G+ presence. Pinterest: It may only have 70 million users, but Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social media platforms. Users can create virtual pinboards, and more and more people are using it as a virtual shopping basket before making a purchase from businesses they find on there. Blogging Google regularly crawls websites looking for indicators that tell them where a particular site should feature in their rankings. One of the factors that they are looking for is the quality of the content on a website. You could have the best website in the world, but if you never add fresh content to it then you limit the opportunity your ongoing opportunities to earn traffic from new search terms etc. Adding a blog page to your website is the quickest and simplest way to show Google, Bing, and Yahoo that your website is still active and provides relevant content that people are searching for. WordPress is one of the most popular website platforms that supports an active blog, but ecommerce sites like OpenCart, ekmPowershop, and Magento also support blogging plugins to allow you to regularly add content to your site. At the very minimum you should be publishing at least one blog per month to keep your site active. Your blog posts don’t always have to be in-depth, although Google does like that. Some months you can post about new products you have in stock, or case studies and testimonials etc. As long as you’re adding something that’s relevant to your site, you’ll stay on Google’s radar and that means higher rankings and more traffic to your site. Online directories Do you remember when the Yellow Pages was the go-to for finding a local plumber, builder, cake maker etc? Well the original, paper-based directory does still exist, but it’s rather skinny these days thanks to the power of the internet. Nowadays savvy consumers can pull out their smart phone wherever they are and search for whatever they need. Their GPS will then help to bring up personalised results that are local to them, wherever they are in the world. As a business serving the local community, it’s up to you to make sure your information is easily found online. One of the easiest ways to do this is to add yourself to a number of online directories such as Yelp, Yell, Yalwa, and Thomson Local. Most of these directories will let you create a free account, which provides a strong backlink to your website and further increases your authority and relevancy in Google’s eyes. Forums Both consumers and Google like businesses that have a certain level of authority in their industry area. As a business owner one of the best ways that you can let your customers know that you have the knowledge and professionalism that they are looking for by hosting an industry-relevant forum on your website. Setting up a forum page on your website will help to drive traffic to your website, which will in turn help to keep you on the search engine radar and hopefully generate some strong sales leads. Invite users to create an account and visit your forum to discuss relevant topics, whilst offering useful advice to them in return. A caveat to this is that it can be difficult to gain much traction with a forum unless your site is already a go-to resource in your industry. Therefore a key way businesses can use forums in the early days of marketing is to find established forums where your target audience are already asking questions, sharing opinions etc. Just run a quick Google search find forums in your niche keyword + forum typically the ones at the top will be the most active but you’ll want to check the last few posts to make sure they get reasonable interaction before you sign up. Start by slowly introducing yourselves to the community making thoughtful comments, sharing people content etc once you’ve made a few a friends and are known, you can begin to push some of your content into the forum. Consider adding an exert from a recent blog post and drive traffic back to your site for those wanting to read more. Remember you should keep commenting and adding value to the community don’t start sharing your own content every time you login. 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