When starting a business you have so many different things to consider, from finding suppliers, financing, managing customers and maybe even staff. Whatever your business though one thing is for sure; you will need to find customers & the obvious place to start is online.
Unfortunately, there are so many ways to market yourself online, you might not know where to start. So here is a simple guide to help you figure it out and plan a simple SEO strategy to get free traffic – because let’s face it, paying for traffic is expensive.
Step 1: Pick Keywords
If you know anything about your business (and I hope you do) you should be able to pick some obvious keywords pretty easily. Use the Google keyword tool to make sure you target keywords which actually get volume and use common sense to make sure you pick keywords which imply the intent to buy.
For instance, if you target phrases like “buy widgets online” you will attract people looking to buy. If you target phrases like “repairing a widget” you won’t; simple.
As a small business I would also recommend you pick just a handful of phrases to work on, don’t bury yourself. Be quite specific too – unless you have budget to spend on SEO you are better off focussing on low volume easy to rank for phrases.
Step 2: Do On Page Stuff
There are dozens of articles online that tell you how to optimize meta tags and stuff – just stick to the basics and don’t get bogged down, avoiding doing anything dodgy and use your time elsewhere. My only really tip here is to use common sense – if you want to rank for “blue widgets” use that phrase in your page – but not in every sentence.
Step 3: To Be Social?
Many businesses feel like they should be using social media at the moment, but most don’t really know what to do with it to actually make money. So here are some suggestions:
If your customers aren’t using it, you shouldn’t:
Social media is a great sharing tool, so if you are a dynamic new tech start up you need to be on it. If on the other hand you specialise in soil sampling I would venture to suggest that your efforts might be better spent elsewhere.
Do it well or don’t do it:
If you don’t have the time to invest, it’s not worth doing it by halves. Social media is a whole other strategy on its own and it is better to do one thing well than 2 things badly.
Don’t worry about it:
Social media is notoriously hard to monetize and right now the evidence suggests that it is at best a very small factor in SEO terms even though this might change with the introduction of Search Plus Your World of Google; so unless your business is a good fit, don’t force it.
Step 4: Outrun Your Competition
If you want to rank for “buy widgets online” try Googling that phrase and see what comes up. Those top 10 results have done what you want to do, so try to emulate them. If their sites look better than yours, have features you are missing or have better content then you need to work on your own site.
You can also look at who is linking to them (use SEOMoz’s Open Site Explorer), get a feel for which sorts of links are helping them and to give you ideas for your own link building.
Don’t be put off if your competitors are miles ahead, Google takes into account currentness of content and if a new start up is showing a lot of ‘buzz’ they can often outrank older more established sites – it’s not easy, but it’s doable.
Step 5: Build Links
There’s no way round it, building links is the trump card of SEO, you have to get everything else right too, but without a consistent income of new links you won’t rank. Don’t try to find shortcuts, they don’t work – if you don’t have the time to invest into doing it the right way find a good SEO agency who do.
The tips above are an outline – SEO is a speciality in it’s own right, but if you are starting a business you need to stick to the basics and do what you can, so hopefully this has given you an idea and what you need to do, or at the very least an idea of what to look for when hiring someone to do it for you.