• nat sharp

5 free ways to boost your online presence

Future proof your business now

This is an extremely challenging and unprecedented time for all of us right now. For many small businesses, we are operating in survival mode. So many of us have had no choice but to scale down our operations and shut up shop. Cashflow is key for survival and so is contingency planning.

This is a time for businesses to be creative and think on their feet. We've had to tear up the rule book and forget about the way we used to run the business and structured our day.

However, do not despair, if you own a small business and have been forced to shut up shop. This is the perfect opportunity to use some of the downtime to get ahead. If you can, channel some of this time and energy into digital marketing to protect your business and future proof your business. And you don't need to necessarily have budget to invest.

Here are 5 free ways you can boost your online presence:

1. Set up the foundations for your SEO

Search engine optimisation or SEO is an excellent investment of your time and it shouldn’t cost you any money to get the basics in place.

If you haven’t already, register with Google My Business. It takes minutes to do. Once this is set up, you can start to populate your profile with information on your business and upload images. And remember to get your customers to submit reviews using the Google review facility.

Knowing your keywords is critical. These are the common words and phrases that your customers may type into Google to find your business. These words then need to be seeded into the headers on your website and the copy.

Once you've cracked this, you need to ensure your website is technically sound. There are free tools to help do this like Uber Suggest.

2. Get blogging

Writing blog posts is extremely time-consuming, so it is the perfect use of time if you are working from home and restricted with what you can do.

I would advise you start with a content plan before jumping straight into developing articles. This will ensure you have a good mix of content and more importantly you are creating information that will be useful to your customers. Remember to leverage the seasons and key industry dates so articles are launched at the relevant time of the year.

As a minimum, you should create at least 1 article per month, so if you haven’t created any this year, or it is the first time you've written a blog for your website, aim at creating several articles.

Devising a succinct headline which is thought-provoking is the hard part. I normally come back to this at the end to perfect it. You also need to optimise your headlines, so do take into consideration what your customers are searching for online as opposed to crafting the perfect newspaper headline.

When you create your articles try to break up the copy with subheads and use eye-catching imagery. Also, think about the call to action at the end – what should your readers do next?

3. Update your social media profiles

When was the last time you gave your social media profiles a spring clean?

Just like everything else, your social media profiles need to be maintained. Ensure you are using a relevant job title that will have strong appeal to your target audience. And it may sound obvious, but have an up to date picture of you or logo that is professional and high enough resolution.

A strong description of your business is also important using your keywords. Always have in the back of your mind, what your customers would be searching for.

4. Prepare social media posts

We all know how time-consuming social media can be. I easily spend a day a week on my social media, so if you have some downtime, preparing social media posts will save you a lot of time in the long run when business picks up again.

I plan out my content using a diary and try to stick to a loose schedule. Once you have a basic calendar and structure, you will need to create the content. If you have time to do this and a bit of creative flair, it needn’t cost you any money. I have a couple of templates I use, but otherwise use stock photography and take my own photographs. It may be worth investing in a decent camera, a ring light and some props/accessories if you want to shoot your own photographs and ensure they are well lit. I’ve also invested in some card, fabrics and stationery to bring in my brand colours.

Scheduling is the last piece of the puzzle. There are so many free scheduling tools you can use from Hootsuite to Planoly for Instagram. Many of these tools have the benefit of flagging up the optimum time to post to ensure you get maximum engagement.

5. Refresh your website

When was the last time you updated your website? If your website is built using one of the most common website builders like Word Press or Wix, it should be easy to update yourself.

Not only is it important that your website accurately represents your business, but updating your website will also help with your SEO.

Here is a mini checklist of things to do:-

  • Update the about us section with new client wins, awards and any key professional or personal achievements

  • Update your imagery to give it a new lease of life from free photo libraries

  • Check all links and forms work

  • Ensure your keywords are in the headlines and appear in the copy

  • Ensure you have strong call to actions throughout the sight

How to stay ahead

These are just a few pointers focusing on free ways you can help your online presence. There are so many other areas of marketing you could look at if you have the time. I would recommend a full marketing review and developing a marketing strategy for your business.

I hope you’ve found this useful. I wish you all the luck over the next few months. Keep positive and try to plan for the months ahead.

You can find more help on creating a brand positioning for your business, creating a sales strategy and mapping out the customer journey, all important parts of business planning


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