Are you on a limited budget and looking for inexpensive methods for promoting your website? What about for free? When it comes to advertising methods for promoting websites, some of the best ones will only cost you some time.
The word FREE generates more interest than just about any word that is part of the English language. There are other words that tantalize us, however when we hear about free things we sometimes do the strangest things. We hold onto free gimmicky stuff that we know we won’t ever use, but we keep it anyway, before pawning if off at a summer yard sale for a nickel.
You’ve heard the saying about how the best things in life are free: intelligence, friendship, love. However, free stuff hardly ever gives you a lot of value when it comes to services and products. When it comes to the Internet, that isn’t always true, specifically when it involves website marketing. That’s because what is completely free to you is still providing marketing value for your business. So if you are a business owner with a tight budget, check out the following free ways of advertising your website:
It might or might not be surprising to you that most traffic on the Internet comes from the search engines. You should turn to the search engines first for promoting your presence online. Make sure that the search engines are aware your website exists by directly submitting your link to them. After you have done that, the best way of improving your search engine presence is improving your SEO. It is true that this “free” traffic source is not totally free, and to get the most out of it you’ll need to either hire an in-house SEO expert or get a part time contractor. However, if you do everything right, you will have free traffic for a very long time. If your business is very young and you don’t have a huge budget for SEO, you can still do some SEO activities on a budget. SEO, as a subject, is well over the scope of this article, but if you do following 2 things on regular basis, you will have some success in lower competition niches:
- Make sure your CMS (Content Management System or, in other words, your website platform) is WordPress. This platform has proven itself as one of the most SEO friendly platforms out there. If you’ll use WordPress, your “on-page” technical SEO will be almost perfect.
- Create high quality content. Either find a good writer who is familiar with your niche or write content yourself. This content has to be about your niche, just make sure it is not all about your company. Nobody wants to know how great your business is. Write content that is helpful to your potential customers. One of the best ways to come up with topics is Google Auto-suggest. Just type in Google your core business keywords and you’ll start seeing other suggested keywords on the bottom of SERP (search results page). Use them as topics for your articles. Make sure you write at least 1000-1500 words.
By doing these 2 things you will get some decent results. However, if your niche is highly competitive, or your business is located in highly populated area, eventually you will have to hire a professional. The good thing is that if you’ve already created high quality content, it will be much easier for a professional to get you great results relatively quick.
Top 5 Search Engines:
- Google – 1,100,000,000 visits a month
- Bing – 350,000,000 visits a month
- Yahoo Search – 300,000,000 visits a month
- Ask – 245,000,000 visits a month
- AOL Search – 125,000,000 visits a month
IMPORTANT – Make sure you submit your sitemap to all of these search engines.
Google My Business Listing
Even though Google My Business Listing could be considered just another citation listing, it has grown to being much more than that during past few years. Make sure you claim your listing and fill out all information in your profile. I’ve written a detailed post on How to Claim Your Google Local Listing. Check it out if you need more help.
There are tons of websites that will let you list your website or business on them free of charge. Why do they do this? Typically because their financial model is based on up-selling you to a premium listing. The basics can be had absolutely free of charge, however if you really want to have a listing that lets you add an expanded description of your business and load videos and pictures, then you will want to pay for the premium version. The good news is that most free versions will allow your to list your website link. This will help people learn about your business and website. Following is a list of top free directory listings:
IMPORTANT – When you create these listing, be prepared to receive a phone call from their sales reps who will pitch you their premium listing service. Politely decline by saying that you are not authorized to make that decision yet but you’ll be happy to discuss it with your boss in few months or so. Ask them to follow up with you in few months via email. Remember, your primary goal is to get a listing on their site, so be nice with them.
Social Link Building
If you’re attempting to expand your reach online, but you don’t have a Twitter user name, Google+ page, LinkedIn account or Facebook page, then shame on you! These accounts all provide listings that are absolutely free on sites that have very high page rankings on Google. These are the most important social media sites online. You can also have a business page on these websites if you own a business and link it to your website. If you don’t have enough time to really “work” these sites to their fullest extent, there is still some link juice to be had from even really bad fan page profiles.
Following are the most popular social networks:
Article Submission and Blogging Platform Sites
Article submission and blogging platform sites are a great way of promoting your website. You just have to write a unique article that relates to your business and then submit it to some of these sites. Although keeping the articles informative is important, try to make the tone friendly. Articles that were less aggressive in terms of their marketing tone and that sound genuinely well-intentioned are much more like to generate more interest for your website than self-promotion by itself. Articles and blogs are also excellent for getting links and providing SEO benefits to your website.
Photo Sharing Sites
Photo sharing sites like Polyvore and Pinterest enable you to display visual content that relates to your business. It can also be used to link back and refer to your site. Photo sharing websites aren’t just for photographers- these sites can be used by any business for posting images of news, coworkers, events and everything in between that relates to your business.
http://www.houzz.com/ – Photo sharing site for designers.
Presentation Sharing Sites
If you have some sort of presentation that you are pitching to clients, upload it to the presentation sharing sites. This way you can pitch to potential clients who would have never known that your company exists. Not only people could find presentations via internal search, those presentation could rank in search engines as well. And here is a kicker, most sites will allow to place a link in the description of the presentation, which will reflect positively on your SEO! So to sum up: you will get exposure to new customers on sharing sites, via search engines and it will positively effect your SEO rankings, and you don’t have to pay a dime for it!
Here are some free presentation hosting sites:
Social Media Bookmarking Sites
These are websites that allow readers to bookmark their favorite news articles, links and sites. They are an excellent way for increasing your website’s credibility with the search engines, obtaining quality backlinks and spreading information about your most recent blog posts. However, you should keep in mind that SEO value of social bookmarking deteriorated during past few years. That is why I’ll provide you with the best social bookmarking sites first followed by slightly lower quality sites.
Highest quality bookmarking sites:
Lower quality bookmarking sites:
Press Releases Sites
Do you have a new service or product that you would like to get some recognition for? If so, write a press release and submit through a PR service. These services, like directories, provide basic free press release submission services. Usually these don’t include the major media outlets, as most of these use Business Wire or PR Newsire. However, you can access middle tier media outlets by using a free PR submission service.
To get somebody’s attention, sometimes the best way of doing this is to reach out and provide them with something that they need. Offering help or answering questions on forums can help to get you noticed, establish your expertise in a specific field, and get word out about your website.
A podcast is an audio file that has been recorded in the format of a radio talk show. When you post podcasts on your own site as well as other places such as Apple’s iTunes (www.itunes.com), people can subscribe to and then download your podcasts and then listen to them at their convenience on their portable MP3 devices or their computers. There is free software available for creating podcasts. Make sure that you include detailed description of your podcast. Also use keywords you want to rank for in the podcast’s title.
Collect the email addresses of your customers and send them useful information, special offers, coupons and new product announcements. Here is a list of mailing clients that can make your email marketing efforts much easier. Keep in mind that most of these software suits are not free but priced very reasonably. My favorite one is MailChimp.com and it is free if you have less than 2000 emails. You are free to try others if for some reason you don’t like MailChimp.
Also, you will have to have your email list in order to use this strategy. You can use emails from your customer database or you can setup some sort of giveaway to collect emails from your blog/site.
Find organizations that issue awards for the services or products your offer. Apply for the awards. Make sure to take this process seriously. Anytime you win, capitalize on the publicity that it generates. Just as with SEO, it is not easy to get awards and in most cases it will require considerable effort on your part time-wise and money-wise. However, winning awards will give your business major PR boost. Here is a list of the most popular business awards:
http://freddieawards.com/ – Travel excellency awards.
These are the most popular awards and I’m sure competition is fierce. You should look for awards in your niche; those awards should be much easier to get.
Donate Resources Or Time To A Charity
Try to get charitable organizations that you are involved with to promote your business involvement and donation. Do what you can to get media coverage for community causes and organizations that you support. Search in Google for local churches and charities, call them and ask how you can help. Please don’t do it just for PR reasons. When you do charity work you actually help a cause, PR resulting from it is just icing on the cake.
Free Classified Ads
You can post free ads at places like Craigslist for your services and products. You can also post offers for giveaways, sweepstakes and free product samples.
I tried to get as complete list as possible but I’m sure there are other sites that slipped through my radar. Let me know in the comments if there are other sites that could be added.