Gone are the days of placing a hand-painted sign outside your place of business to announce the opening of your establishment. Almost gone are the days of placing advertisements in your local newspaper or the yellow pages of your city’s telephone directory. In today’s modern business environment, there is a large variety of marketing methods available to you. For the purposes of this blog, we’re going to focus on how you can use the internet to advertise your business.
Below are some of the most important, effective uses of the internet for advertising:
- Website: A well-designed, responsive website that is SEO and mobile-friendly can be your most valuable marketing tool and should be at the center of your internet advertising plan. Your website will become the go-to place to find out more about your products or services. While it used to be common practice to print a brochure about your business, a website is now the fastest way to get current information out to your potential customers.
- Google My Business: Google allows you to create an account for your business, which Google then uses to locate you on Google Maps. Other important information is listed on your Google My Business account—such as your hours of operation, telephone number, e-mail address, and photographs. Customers can also review your business and rate your product or service on a scale from 0-5 stars.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization): SEO is something you or your web professional can employ on your website to make it easy for Google or other search engines to determine what your business is about. Search engines rank your website based on its age, physical address, keywords, descriptions, page content, backlinks and many other items. This information allows the search engine to best determine how well your website matches the user’s search query. If you don’t have the required time to learn and implement SEO on your website, a trustworthy professional can assist you with this. Be aware that there are many SEO companies that use what are called “Black Hat” practices, which can damage your ranking if search engine companies determine your site is using these tactics. But don’t worry—there are plenty of “White Hat” professionals out there. Just be careful and ask questions. Reputable professionals will try to explain things in layman’s terms and be willing to answer any questions you have.
- Backlinks: Google and other search engines give high priority to sites that have quality links. In fact, if the backlink is from a highly reputable website it can greatly improve your ranking. There are services that allow you to purchase backlinks, but search engines are becoming more and more capable of determining whether links or organic or purchased. If a search engine recognizes that you have purchased backlinks, it can reduce your ranking or even block your website.
- Online Map Listings: There are many online maps that show potential customers where you are located in relation to the customer’s location. These maps are beneficial because they show the user pertinent details about your business.
- E-mail Marketing: With a good e-mail list of your potential customers, you can send Newsletters, Special Offers, Promotions and other content that your potential customers may be interested in.
- Online Advertising: There are a number of ways to purchase online advertising. Such advertisements can be as simple as ads placed in a popular website or blog. The more prominent the website or the ad’s page location, the more expensive the ad will be. Click Rate and Display Count are terms you will need to get familiar with. Adwords by Google is an excellent service to employ if you choose to purchase advertising, since Google is the 800 lb. gorilla in the room. As the world’s largest and most recognizable search engine, Google carries a lot of clout and rewards customers who pay them.
While the internet has become an enormous benefit in how business is done and marketed, it has generated its own set of challenges. Understanding those challenges will go a long way in harnessing the power of the web to advertise your business effectively.