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Online Advertising For Small Businesses

May 15, 2008
If you have a small business then online advertising can help drive traffic to your website. If your business is not yet online, then you would be well advised to have an internet presence since an increasing number of your customers, irrespective of the business you are in, are going online to look for their products and services.

How you do that is another subject, but any business, small or large, has the same problem online: attracting visitors to their websites. People do not just arrive at your site as they would if they were walking round a shopping mall. Sure, your potential customer base is world wide, but the internet is so large that you are unlikely to get any casual visitors that are not seeking your website in particular.

To find out your competition, go to Google.com and enter the keyword for your site or product into your web browser and have a look to the right of the blue line just above the results - that will tell you how many more sites are using the same keyword as you, and that is your competition. For the keyword 'health foods, for example, that number is over 8 million.

Nobody is going to find your website among another 8 million by chance. You have to direct them to your website by advertising, and here are the main ways for you to achieve that:

1. Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC). You bid so much for an advert to be shown on the search engine results page for specific keywords, and then pay each time somebody clicks on the advert. The higher you bid, the nearer to the top of Page 1 of the search engine results pages for that keyword your advert will be shown. However, you also pay the amount of your bid for each click, so make sure that your advert is very specific without any ambiguity that could get the wrong people clicking.

If you are selling only 500 mg soluble Vitamin C supplements, don't advertise just 'vitamins' or even 'Vitamin C'. Advertise 'Soluble 500 mg Vitamin C Supplements - $xx per 100'. Then the person clicking on your advert will know exactly what you are offering and what they will be paying, thus maximizing your chances of a good click through rate (clicks resulting in sales).

2. Search Engine Optimization: if you can optimize your site well enough to get a good listing in the search engines for your keyword, that is totally free advertising for you day in day out. It is worth doing this to the best of your ability, since although it could take time for your site to be listed, once it has been listed it will remain so for a considerable time, providing you with potentially masses of free traffic.

3. Article marketing can also provide you with free traffic. By writing articles on your niche, and submitting them to article directories, you will not only get a back-link from each directory, so helping your Google PageRank (and hence your search engine listing) but hopefully will also receive a visit from every reader that is so impressed by your article that they want to know more.

The reason for this is that the directories allow you a link back to any page you want on your website from your resource section, in which you can say something about you and your site in addition to providing your URL. Once more, free advertising of which you should take maximum advantage.

4. Ezine advertising can be very profitable, since every niche has at least one ezine relating to it. Check out the internet for ezines relating to your niche using the search term 'yourniche ezines' and then contact the owner. Ask for details on advertising, or request a free advertising slot for a free article in return. Many owners of ezines will give you a free advert in return for a good article on the niche.

5. Finally, start a blog. Wordpress and Blogger provide you with free blogs that you can use for any purpose (except certain banned topics). You can use your blog to provide weekly courses on your niche, thus building a regular readership or just to provide updates each time you add content to your website. Put your advert on your own blog, and you could find a lot more traffic visiting your website.

It does not matter how large or small your business is - these suggestions do work. However, they tend to be more successful with small businesses for the simple reason that larger firms tend to ignore such advertising techniques and throw money at more direct ads. The fact that they are missing opportunities appears to miss them.

You, however, can profit enormously by advertising your business as much as possible online. It is possible to this without your business having an online presence, but it is far more effective if you have a website, so get started with that first and then profit from it.
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