Social media has revolutionized the way a business can market and promote itself to its customers. Apart from the low costs involved, social media offers a number of benefits to small businesses. Let’s look at how small businesses can grow using social media.
People find out about businesses on social media sites through their family, friends, colleagues and other contacts. In other words, these businesses come recommended to them from people that they already know. This carries a lot more credibility than an unknown link on search results or the testimonials of complete strangers. Thus, people are likely to take a keener interest in businesses they find through social media.
Large companies can afford to throw away money to catch the eye of their target audience. This is not a viable option for small businesses with limited budgets. Social media offers a completely free way of increasing visibility and creating brand awareness for your products and services to a large slice of your target audience.
Customers have grown sick and tired of in-your-face advertising and hard selling. In fact, they tend to avoid companies who disrespect their privacy and freedom to choose. Social media enables you to approach your customers in a far more palatable manner- one that does not put them off your business on one hand, and on the other awakens their interest in your company.
Social media has played a very large role in taking away the sterility of the Internet by enabling people to connect and communicate. Small business can take advantage of this new dimension to build strong relationships with their customer base. Stronger client relationships with clients and customers can only lead to advantageous benefits like repeat business, top of the mind recall and references and recommendations.
Two Way Channel
Unlike most other forms of business promotion, social media is the only resource that allows for two way communication between the business and its customers. This can be useful in a number of ways. On one hand, you can communicate all the new steps your business is taking and the progress it is making with your customers. On the other hand, you can also provide them with a support structure. Finally, your customers can also communicate their grievances and complaints and provide you with valuable feedback that you can then use to improve your products and services as well as the image of your business.
What Your Customers Want
People today know exactly what they want and what products and services they would like to see in the future. Instead of settling for what is on offer, they want their demands to be heard by businesses. A savvy businessman will learn what the customers want and provide them with exactly that instead of trying to make them settle for what he has to offer. Social media enables you to stay ahead of the competition by always keeping you in touch with what your customers want.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a word commonly used in the internet business world. It is the simple art of making relevant web pages more attractive to search engines, such as Google, Yahoo etc. The following are some of the ways SEO adds value to a business:
Targeting Interested Traffic
We have all been there. While seeking information about a particular product or service we need; we fill in the keywords and hit the search button. When the search engine page opens out, the first two pages are all that we look at. We don’t go beyond that. This shows how important it is to be on the first few pages. SEO done well will ensure that a particular service is listed in the first ten listings itself. Therefore, people can find you and contact you. Thus, SEO attracts more web traffic, so you’ll have more people visit your site.
Improvement of Your Business Listings
When there are innumerable people offering the same service, searching for you in particular, would be like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. If your business is just one in thousands of listings, you have to do something to make your listing stand out. SEO done effectively will make your web-site appear in the place it is supposed to be; right at the top! Your brand is given visibility and customers recognize you as a contender in your competitive market.
Optimizing Your Business’ Marketing Plan
SEO optimizes your business’ existing web pages. This in turn enhances your business website marketing plan enabling it to deliver return on investment. Although in the short term, especially if you are just setting out, professional SEO agencies might seem expensive, but statistics have shown that in today’s web world every business needs SEO in order to survive. It certainly plays an important role in adding value to your company over-arching marketing plans.
Cuts down Your Marketing Budget
Business cards, flyers and publications have their limitations, in terms of reach and exposure. Further, print material is expensive and has a limited shelf life! On the other hand, SEO uses directory listings on websites such as The Yahoo! Directory which sees thousands of visitors at any given time and has a far better reach. SEO will thus show your presence in the market, subsequently resulting in a fantastic search engine ranking for your business. You will most probably recover your publicity costs much sooner by using SEO techniques than investing in any other advertising channel.
Adding Value to Your Business
The following are some techniques by which an effective SEO agency will create value for your business:
• SEO articles can be published in your name making you an industry expert.
• An optimized FAQ page can be added to trouble-shoot common problems or queries.
SEO if done efficiently has proven to be a hundred percent successful in recent times. Businesses have thrived and grown when a budget has been specifically set aside for it. If you work with the right firm, there’s no risk involved.
Statistics have proven over and over again that the best thing you can do to ensure your business’ survival and growth is to invest in reliable SEO techniques.
Today, SEO is essential for all businesses irrespective of their size. Small businesses are more dependent on the Internet than big businesses. While it is likely that you may have optimized your business website before reading this, you are probably looking for better ways to get the job done. Here are some tips to fill in those gaps.
Local Search Optimization
For a small business it makes more sense to optimize locally. In order to do this, you need to have a complete profile to be visible to anyone who may want to find you. Statistics show that 63% of people searching for some service or product prefer to look for local companies. To do so, you first have to start logging into Google Places or other local sites and make a profile with all your details. Positive reviews from customers will certainly help. If you could provide references with the permission of the reviewers, then you are certainly going to be one up in your market.
Content is Still Everything
Unique content finds favor among all search engines. With more high quality and optimized content, you will have more chances of being found. Many SEO experts recommend turning everything on an e-commerce website into content. For instance support emails can become FAQs and PDFs can become HTML pages. As a small business, you can use optimized content to carve a niche for yourself.
It is Not Just About Link-Building
Today, most small business owners are bent on getting external links for their websites. This process is undeniably essential. However, it does not do much if the content on the website is not linked properly on the inside. You can provide references to old posts through the new ones. The internal navigation should be well thought out so your web visitor finds it easy to navigate through the pages. This benefits SEO and keep visitors on your site longer.
Optimize for Mobile
Mobile search has become as important as computer searches. Therefore, websites have to be optimized for mobiles. While a dedicated site for mobiles can be a good idea, it can prove costly. Instead, having a website load faster can be one way to optimize for mobile search. Google’s latest page rank algorithms also look at how fast a site loads.
There is No Way around Personalization
Your web pages have to communicate to people personally. This may sound clichéd, but no guide to SEO is ever complete without stating this. Personal communication is your edge over a big business. A small business can create a buying guide for instance, in addition to placing product reviews, to make communication more personal. You will come across as an expert and hence have an advantage over others in your niche. Alternatively, you can optimize your blog content so more people get to read about your company and what you have to offer.
Keywords, Keywords and more Keywords
Keyword optimization determines the success of an SEO campaign. A small business website cannot afford to optimize on the wrong keywords. It is no longer possible, even for a modest business, to optimize stand alone terms. A small business instead has to work on phrases intelligently. This comes only if you were to understand your market and think like a customer or buyer. Since local search is the norm, you should interact with your prospective market, if required, in addition to using keyword analysis tools.
Different Landing Pages for Different Locations
Many businesses have multiple local listings on local sites. It is important to have them link to pages on your website which are pertinent to that location. It would do no good if they were to link to the same page. Location is everything when optimizing locally.
In order to make a small website climb the ranks, it requires a persistent effort, which will eventually pay off if played by the book.
SEO is about more than just getting your website to rank well in the search engines. Now, SEO is a powerful tool that can be used to brand your business and separate you from your competitors. It’s a tool that can help you earn trust and tell your brand’s story through those high search engine rankings you achieve. It’s a tool that can help you better understand your target audience’s behavior and interests so you can reach them more effectively.
But how exactly do you go about building a brand with SEO?
Understand which keywords attract your target audience–There’s much more to keyword research than just generating a huge list of all the search phrases related to your niche. You need to take the time to truly understand which keywords your target audience is using at various stages of the buying cycle. What’s the user intent behind the search phrases? This will help you determine which keywords to target and how to approach them in a way that positions your brand properly in the search results.
Own your brand name–In the ongoing hunt to target competitive industry keywords, it can be easy to forget that you need to make sure you’re ranking at the very top for your actual brand name. Owning your brand name in the search results is absolutely essential because you can bet that consumers are going to do some research about your company before they do business with you. So, you need to make sure that what turns up in the search results paints your brand in a positive light. When someone searches for your brand name, they should see your website, your social networking profiles, your blog, maybe some press releases, some positive reviews, etc.
Create a consistent brand message–Every brand should have a uniform message that customers identify it with. Communicating your brand message to searchers is an important step to the branding process. This means focusing on the content you’re presenting in your title tags, meta descriptions, PPC ads, etc. Your message should be unique, clear, and consistent.
Build a larger share in the SERPs–Having just a company website isn’t enough anymore. If you want to build your brand through SEO, you need to focus on increasing your presence in the search results. That means not just having a company website, but also having a presence across multiple channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, news results, blog results, image results, etc. to help build your brand.
Do you think SEO is a powerful branding tool? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
According to IBM research, 80 percent of those who start a corporate blog never post more than 5 entries. That’s right–80 percent of business blogs die without publishing more than 5 posts. That’s an alarming failure rate for business blogs, and for a company thinking about starting a blog, it can understandably give you some doubts about whether or not you should do it.
The good news is that there are many things you can do to avoid failure with your business blogs. A sound approach can help you avoid the mistakes made by most corporate bloggers, so you can build a successful blog that helps you connect with your target audience, drive traffic to your website, increase brand exposure, and produce a range of other key benefits.
So, what can you do to make sure your new business blog is a success? Here are 7 important steps you should take.
1. Make sure you’re ready to make the commitment–Building a business blog isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time to come up with ideas, write your posts, do all the necessary blog marketing, respond to comments, and manage all the other tasks that come with having a blog. You must be sure that you’re truly up for this long-term commitment before you launch your blog.
2. Define your target audience–Who is your ideal reader? Exactly who are you trying to reach? Understanding the characteristics, habits, and interests of your readers can help you write content that connects with them on a more meaningful level.
3. Wait to launch your blog until you have at least 5 posts written–When you launch a blog with just a single post, your blog looks naked and amateurish. People will assume that you’re just a fly-by-night blogger, and they probably won’t come back. But if you have a decent backlog of a few posts, readers will see that you’re legitimate and get a better sense of what your blog is all about.
4. Create a list of ideas for future posts–Writer’s block (or ‘blogger’s block’ if you prefer) is one of the biggest challenges faced by business bloggers. When bloggers run out of ideas, their blogs die. That’s why it’s important to have a running list of post ideas that you can draw from whenever it’s time to write something new. Jot down ideas as you think of them, so you’ll never be at a loss for something interesting to write about.
5. Make it easy to share your posts–Your blog’s growth will be driven by your readers sharing your content. As they share your posts with their friends and followers, you’ll get more and more readers. That’s why it’s so important that you make sharing your posts as easy as possible. Include social media buttons on your blog so that readers can share your posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites with just one click.
6. Get networked–Networking is one of the biggest keys to growing your blog. You need help getting your name out there and getting traffic driven to your blog. Some of the things you can do to build your network include guest posting on other blogs, inviting bloggers to submit guest posts to your blog, commenting on other blogs, linking out to other posts in your blogs, connecting with influencers through social media, and being active in the community surrounding your niche.
7. Don’t give up–Your blog probably isn’t going to be an overnight success. In fact, it will probably be pretty desolate for quite a while. Building an audience is something that takes time. You have to keep posting great content on a regular basis, and you have to keep promoting it to make sure it gets seen. So, don’t be discouraged when things start slowly. Stick with it, and over time, you’ll see it headed in the right direction.
What tips would you offer to someone starting a new business blog? Let us know by leaving a comment below.