Getting Your Small Business Online and Making a Name for Yourself

Small businesses are struggling to create an online presence and reach their potential. Here are some budget-friendly SEO and social media tip to do it.

Throughout the years of being in the digital space, marketing, publishing, reaching out…and also, let’s not forget the occasional rant and review…has given me the big-picture insight into the inevitable merging of our offline and online world.

Not only are your locations revealed all the time, but every word you speak is recorded and used by your phone (or the devices in your home) to help make your life easier‘. If this is true for people, it is even truer and more imperative for businesses. 

I realize the number of small to big businesses online has exploded exponentially. The Pandemic gave everyone no other choices. With the competition being so rife, some even wondered if they should halt their SEO activities during the Pandemic and pay their way to the first page.

So, these businesses and people have been trying their best to nail down the right platform floating through the sea of apps and social media platforms, to stay connected with their audiences.

The difference is that some businesses have deeper pockets than others and the big guys either come up with their own revolutionary in-house tools while others have to be frugal and careful about using SEO and social media management software.

Of course, there are low-cost ones, free ones, and (expensive) ones that won’t hesitate to kick a dent in your budget or even get you thrown out of your home. The good news is that even the expensive ones have packages that might fit into your budget, so spend some time looking around.

Here, I’ll narrow a few things down for people who need a strategy the most – the small and medium companies

I’ve always had a soft spot for small businesses because I’ve been there and the pain is always intense. It causes sleepless nights, anxiety, stress, and sudden phone calls to your mother because you’re facing a panic attack

Consider doing these few things if you’re a small or medium business trying to get yourself into the game of online marketing.

Creating Creative, Personalized Content Must NOT be Side-Lined

Yes, social media is great and, admittedly, its effectiveness trumps long-form content marketing in many ways. As we all know by now, SEO is a whole different ball game. It’s a long-term investment

The problem with SEO is that not many startups and small businesses have the money, time, or experience to deal with such a strategy if it is not coupled up with other forms of digital marketing efforts

Tie it in with your social media campaigns effectively to attract the attention of interested people (who are, hopefully, impressed by your products, solutions, knowledge, experience, and skills). 

Start with 3-month content development and strategy. Work out what works with your audience and schedule it down while working it backwards. And then tie that in with your social media posts.

Things You Should Do to Promote Your Business Online Now

To get yourself online is the easy part, even if it is just to start your website. To get yourself in front of your audience is the hard part

First, there’s the long-term goal. And then, there are the shorter ones that we could be changing on a week-to-week or month-to-month basis. It all depends on what the internet has suddenly served upon us at that point.

There are a few social media, marketing, and website management tools that are close to my heart because, at the start, these were the tools and platforms that allowed me to experiment, explore, and find out how these things work

Some of them have withstood the test of time and trend, and they’re still around today, bigger and stronger.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Basic Online Must-Haves

The first few must-haves in 2020 for small to medium business must-haves include these very ‘basic things’. They’re no longer options if you’re going into business in this internet era.

I’ve decided not to touch on backlinks today because Google, as usual, has been on the back-and-forth with their announcements about backlinks and its impact on a website’s SEO. So annoying. And they’re giving you half-answers that wastes your precious time. But well…welcome to Google.

  1. Website
  2. eCommerce site that can take online payment
  3. Payment gateway, which may or may not give your customers the option to pay through eWallets
  4. Social media presence
  5. Affiliation with other complementing businesses or personalities
  6. Regular updates on social media
  7. Regular updates on your blog or tweaks to your website
  8. Getting your business or products up on marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Shoppee, Lazada, Alibaba, etc
  9. A solid and responsive Google My Business profile
  10. SEO work done on your websites
  11. Running of ads on your preferred ad platform
  12. A brand or personality that creates engagement, awareness, and trust

Don’t worry, if you’re really new to this whole online business business, take it one step at a time or get help. I’ll be able to help you through some of them but I do not have the capacity to code up software or apps. 

Other than that, get in touch with me if you need to get the basics off the ground. As for the rest of the work, there are tools out there that you can use either for free or affordably. As a reminder, I think you should have enough financial buffer to get you through at least the first six months of your new business, this is already a very modest prediction. 

Here are some tools you should consider using for your new small to medium-sized business.

1 – Hootsuite

The power-packed version of Hootsuite is no longer free. In fact, if you put all your eggs into this basket, it can cost you a bomb. 

At the time of writing this (Feb 2021), the cost of Hootsuite plans (the paid ones) are:

  • Professional $9 per month
  • Team $99 per month
  • Business $599 per month
  • Entreprise is a toss in the air. Likely to drain your budget

Try out their free plans to see how you can work the tool into your business marketing plan. It gives you the chance to see how flexible and comprehensive the tool is when it comes to social media monitoring, scheduling, management, and reporting. 

Dive in only when you have enough clients to help you bolster the cost of using the professional version of the tool. I’ve had advertising agencies bow out of the professional plan because of the cost, so, it’s really your call.

2 – Tweetdeck

This is another social media marketing and management tool that has a special place in my heart. So far, their custom timelines have the ability to cue you in on which account you’re accessing (if you have multiple accounts), and manage them with your team seamlessly. It’s free for Twitter users too!

I’ve not tried  integrating other social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook into Tweedeck but according to words from the Grapevine, it works perfectly fine if you’re focused mainly on Twitter. 

The best thing is that you can work the whole thing from your web browser once you’ve logged in. If you want to get serious, there have packages for you too:

  • Small Business (5 Users) $99 per month
  • Medium Business (10 users) $199 per month 
  • Large Business (25 users) $399 per month

3 – SocialOoomph

I remember using this app like my life depended on it because there were too many Tweets to send out and it had to be scheduled up. I was also, at the time, working with a US-based company, so my time zone difference was…daunting to manage. 

They offer the typical scheduling, management, and analytics feature that most of the other social media marketing management tools already offer and they have a free package which is rather limited. They’ve expanded their services to include social media management of platforms like Faebook, Linkedin, and Pinterest now, so it’s worth exploring their packages again. 

I might pop in to see how they’ve grown from the time I used them during their infancy stage. 

From the Grapevine, this is their pricing plan as at Feb 2021:

  • Business $55 per month
  • Professional Suite $25 per month
  • Advanced Suite $15 per month
  • Free – One Social Media profile
understand website analytics
Understanding analytics and what it is trying to tell you is a large part of the work to be done whether you’re a small or renowned business

4 – UberSuggest

Most of the time, I use UberSuggest’s free tools because they’re good. If you want to get really serious about finding the right topics to write about for your business, blog, or website, use it to find keywords, track daily ranking, and get some suggestions from the brain behind the brand, Neil Patel. 

Patel has been active on social media for…like, since forever. He pumps out suggestions, ideas, advice, and awesome tips on how to create content that dominate your market. You can find him on Instagram, Linkedin, YouTube, or Facebook

The team recently rolled out their Chrome extension but I’ve not gotten the chance to try it out yet. 

All of them comes with a 7-day free trial:

  • Individual – USD29 per month
  • Business – USD49 per month
  • Enterprise/Agency – USD99 per month

5 – GMB, Google My Business

This tool is an awesome tool for small businesses who have a local market. In fact, it’s touted to be one of the biggest tools people are using to find everything from a nearby barber to a neighboring restaurant. 

If you’re a B2C business, getting on GMB is a must now although we’re still pretty much under lockdown due to Covid but you’ll never know when someone is searching for a service provider or business in a particular area using good ole Google. 

Under GMB, you can update your business profile with the latest updates, contact information, website links, your location, opening hours, posts, pictures, links, promotions, and special offers. The good and bad of GMB is actually the reviews section. While it can work in your favor, it can also be easily manipulated by disgruntled people or your competitors. Or maybe just someone who has nothing else better to do. 

Think With Google found that 88% of customers trust a business with relatively good reviews online, as much as they trust personal recommendations from their family and friends. If negative reviews are impacting your business for some reason, you can flag them and let Google know about it.

6 – Affiliating and Aligning Yourself With the Big Guys

In business, there’s no time to be shy. It’s all about the numbers and the number of times you hear a ‘no’ till you hear that one meaningful, purposeful ‘yes’. Start affiliating yourself with bigger, more established and authoritative websites, people, organizations, speakers, and social media influencers.

When you’re affiliating with these people, most of them won’t have much time to offer you and they know what you’re looking for. They’ve been there. When you think of the big picture, you’re more likely to gain their trust and affinity. 

It’s time to grow some really thick skin and get ready to hear a lot  more ‘no’s than you think you can handle. Frankly, a lot of the work comes right out from email marketing or just cold outreaches which is as chilly as marketing can get.

a man standing up shaking the hand of a sitting woman
Networking with bigger, complementing, or similar brands will work to your advantage

7 – B2B Businesses Should Be On Linkedin

It’s great to be on Instagram and Facebook for B2B businesses but if you’re looking for other businesses, you’ll likely find them on Linkedin. There are, however, unwritten rules on Linkedin that are not as clear as they are on other social media networks. 

People on Linkedin are folks who are established, run companies, are serious about their business, know what they’re talking about, and some have the money to spend. It’s a great tool to help get the word about your business out there. 

Paid ads on Linkedin is more expensive than it is on Facebook and Instagram. But they’re really targeted. Depending on the kind of keywords you’re targeting, you CAN pay smaller amounts for Linkedin ads but you’re better off trying to establish connections with the people on the platform instead.

8 – Becoming a Key Opinion Leader in your Industry

There are three things you need to do here. 

  1. Decide on your topics and write them down; get them published and send the word out
  2. Convert the message to video and post them on social media sites for those who prefer to watch 
  3. Convert the message into audio via a podcast

The most important thing is your message. Start by writing it on your blog or website and get it published on sites like Medium. With the written content, you would have done a huge chunk of the work. Take some time to break the content down into smaller bite sizes for videos and start publishing them on social media sites like IGTV, Youtube, Linkedin, and Facebook. 

For podcasts, for me, Anchor is an awesome tool to use because it’s as easy as it gets, really. It’s quite dummy-proof. Once you’ve set things up, don’t forget to spread the word and get your supporters, family and friends to help you. Once again, it’s a business and there’s no time to be shy about promotion. 

It’s not about being pushy or selling snake oil, it’s about being honest about what you’re doing and showing people how seriously you’re taking it.

9 – SEO Tools

Screaming Frog allows you to crawl your entire website, which is very useful if you have a large or aging website with loads of content, for free or affordably. 

What it does is crawl through your website for an audit and analyze the pages to find broken links, discover META tags, find duplicate content, extract data, review robots, general XML Sitemaps, integrate the site with GA, GSC, and PSI, and gives you an overall look of the health of your website’s architecture. 

Word Tracker, AnswerThePublic, Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs’ Keyword Generator, Google Trends, and AlsoAsked are some of the free SEO tools I’ve worked with and found useful. To this very day, I continue to work with Google Trends and Keyword Planner, UberSuggest, Word Tracker, and Answer The Public. They’re reliable and very consistent in their updates and sense of commitment without trying too hard to push their Paid Plans down your throat.

Conclusion

This list is endless because by the time you’re reading this, things could have changed and Twitter could be as long forgotten as the traditions our ancestors left behind for us to remember. My advice is to have a strategy, read a lot, experiment a lot, don’t be afraid to fail, be patient, find a formula that works and work it to the bone, and then keep looking out for new ways and talent that can keep you in the orbit. 

Once you’re in the orbit, your chances of gaining new fans increases and that’s when you know you’re running the marathon along with the top pack. Otherwise, you’ll be trudging along with the massive number of beginners near the starting line, never to see what the big guys are all talking about. 

And before I go, since we’re on the topic of running a marathon, when it comes to running a business and maintaining an online presence, there’s no finish line. You just have to keep running. You just run better, faster every day. 

That’s the rule of the game.

If you need someone to help you find keywords, implement them, develop copy for your website, strategize your content, work your social media, or simply give you an idea on what to do to get your small business off the ground, get in touch with me. I’ll try my best to answer your questions.

Published by Marsha Maung

I am a freelance writer, copywriter, blogger, social media and online advertising consultant. On the other side of my Universe is a life of being a mother to 2 boys who are always ravenous or mean to each other. They love each other, but if I say that, they'll kill each other. I have been in the internet world since 2000 when I started off with a couple of dot-bombs but they've served me well. Right now, I primarily write for blogs and learning heaps about the ever-evolving world of social media and search engine marketing. Hit me up and we can learn together! Life is better together.

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