Building awareness of your brand online has become synonymous with running a business in the 21st century, with online marketing campaigns driving massive business growth, and internet based businesses employing only a handful of people and being worth billions.
‘Where do I start?’ you might think. Here we run through a few ways that you can start building your brand online and driving the growth of your business through the internet.
We’ve decided to run through everything in cost-to-you order, starting with what you can do yourself for free, through to what you will need to pay for, which hopefully allows you to see how you can build your brand online without having to dig deep into the pockets of your business trousers.
Use Social Media
The first tip, which is something that you can do yourself for free, is to get started on social media (if you haven’t already!). If you haven’t already seen it, check out our guide to getting started on social media. Social media is one of the defining features of the 21st century and our digitally connected age. It allows unparalleled access for getting in front of people, but don’t go over the top, the same face-to-face behaviour is expected online, so don’t push yourselves in peoples faces and insist that they buy things from you.
It takes time to build up a good following on social media, and it takes good, relevant and fresh content to build a following. However, if you keep at it you can build up your brand awareness, and during the mean time, you might even ‘go viral’. Don’t be put off by what your expectations of going viral are though, you can’t expect your content to get in front of half the nation, but getting it in front of several thousands of people in your local area can go a long way to building your exposure and handled correctly, can turn into sales for your business.
Our second tip is to optimise your website for organic search. The web has become the go-to option for solving problems and researching purchases/decisions, so improving your organic search listing can be a massive boost to your business. Before we get into that though, I’ll explain what organic search is! When you visit Google and type in a search query, you will be presented with a list of results, and there are three key sections to these. It’s worth noting that if you type in something that implies a local search, you will be presented with a map of the locations that best suit that result, but again, these depend on your organic search ranking too.
The page is divided into two columns, the larger on the left, and a thinner column on the right. The right hand column displays adverts that have been paid for, denoted by a small yellow ‘Ads’ image at the top of the column. The left hand side column will likely be topped by more adverts which have been paid for (more on these later), and will again be denoted by a yellow ‘Ad’ image.
Underneath these is where the magic happens though, the organic listings, or search engine results pages (SERPS). There are a great many factors that dictate how highly you perform here, and Google keeps a lid on what exactly goes on behind the scenes, but there is a lot that you can do yourself to drive yourself higher.
Improving your website is certainly something that you can do yourself, and spend no money doing. Depending on the level of control you have over your website (is it a static web design, or do you have a content management system?), you might need to contact your web design company to make changes, which may incur some cost. However, if you have control of the content that you post to the site, you’ve got what you need to improve.
The most important aspect to success is the value of the content that you are creating. Content that is relevant and engaging will ensure your followers will drive traffic to your page through social media, and can increase inbound links, which are a big thumbs-up as far as search engines are concerned. It’s worth noting though, that nearly all of the searchers via Google don’t make it to page two, and those that do won’t necessarily click on your link, so it’s important to make your content as inviting as possible.
The second key point to this is making sure your website is built correctly for search engines, helping to highlight the key words or phrases that you are aiming to rank well for. Again, if you have control over this yourself you can make these changes, or you may need to discuss this with your web design agency (but they built it right in the first place didn’t they?).
One of the best things about this approach is that the investment can be minimal, if not only your time, and it will continue to deliver traffic long term to your website at no cost. The down side can be the time it takes to climb the listings and become relevant for your content.
Those listings I mentioned above that have the yellow ‘Ad’ image next to them - wouldn't it be great to be listed there? Well, you can, but it’s going to cost you!
Paid search can drive enormous amounts of traffic to your website and be a great return on investment, but equally, if you target very competitive keywords you can spend a lot of money for very little return. So, it’s very important to know which keywords you want to target in advance. Google has a keyword planner that allows you to see density of searches for given keywords over time and their competitiveness, which can help you plan your foray in keyword advertising.
It’s worth noting that you can control the amount you bid for the exposure, or you can leave it to calculate your bid automatically, but you can control your spend so it doesn’t run away from you!
Further to advertising on search engines, you can also advertise on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms, but be conscious of which is right for you; you want to present yourself to an audience who are keen to engage with you, and not be ambivalent towards your content. It’s also worth knowing that people generally view paid search with an air of scepticism; after all, the brand is promoting themselves, rather than earning the referral.
Which is best? No company is the same as another, and how you approach and engage with your customers will be different, and so will the channel you choose to pursue. We can help get you set up for social, organic and paid search and manage your profile going forward to ensure you are getting the most out of your internet marketing, and help your business grow. Please do get in touch or contact us on Twitter: @corvitadigital