For a small business, the completion of their website is a big deal. At this point, website marketing isn’t a concern yet. The goal is primarily to get the website up and running.
But just because your website is up, it doesn’t mean the job is done. To get customers, you need to ensure that people actually visit your website. You need to know how to promote your website. More importantly, as a small business owner, you need to do this at low or no cost.
The good news is that there are ways for small business owners to get their website marketing started for free. In this tutorial, learn how to promote your website with our free tips.
Free Website Promotion Tips
If you're doing website marketing for your small business here are ten tips for how to do free website promotion:
1. Optimize Your Website for Search Engines
When users find your website when they search for something via Google, Bing, or other search engines, you’re essentially getting free website marketing. This is why search engine optimization or SEO is important—by making sure that search engines can understand and categorize your website properly, your website will show up in search results when users type in relevant keywords. This beats paying for search engine advertising not just in terms of cost, but also for performance. For example, the SEO experts at MOZ cite research from Enquisite that found that for every click generated by a paid search result ad, organic results get eight and a half times more clicks.
But how do you know if your website is optimized for search engines? One way to check is to use an SEO auditing tool. You can input your website URL into these tools, and they’ll display a report on what your site might look like in search engine results and how effective your site’s current SEO is. Some tools even display a list of things you can improve on. Here are some of the free tools you can use to see if your site is missing some key SEO tweaks:
If you need a refresher on the basics of SEO and how you can execute the changes recommended by the above tools, the following guides should help:
- SEO Basics 101: How to Quickly Optimize Your Website for Search EnginesMarc Schenker26 Jun 2017
- How to Use SEO to Grow Your Law Firm Website Traffic (2018)Brenda Barron09 Jun 2018
Still, it helps if you've got SEO in mind to start with. Picking SEO optimized website themes in the beginning can save you a lot of trouble down the road.
2. Start an Email List
You can also get free website promotion and start gathering leads by creating an email list. If this sounds challenging, know that it's worth it: For every dollar spent on email marketing, you get a return of investment of $38, according to the Direct Marketing Association. In other words, once you get your SEO in place, it makes perfect business sense to focus on email marketing next.
While most email marketing software requires paid membership to get access to advanced features, there are many things you can do with free accounts. Here are some free email marketing software plans you can start with:
- Mailchimp’s plan is free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month—more than enough for your small business. You won’t get access to advanced segmentation and testing features, however.
- TinyLetter (also owned by Mailchimp) is a simpler mailing list app that’s meant exclusively for newsletters. It’s completely free, but lacks the business features available on Mailchimp’s free plan.
- Benchmark also has a free plan for 2,000 subscribers and 14,000 emails sent per month.
- Mailerlite is minimalist and meant for small businesses. The free plan allows for 1,000 subscribers, but you can send an unlimited number of emails per month.
Once you’ve selected the free email marketing service you’ll use, you might need to brush up on how to start gathering subscribers. The following tutorials can help you with that:
- How to Build an Email List: Get Your First 500 Subscribers FastCeline (CX) Roque19 Apr 2016
- Grow Your Email List with a Giveaway Buzz PieceDavid Masters07 Jul 2014
If you need to level up your email marketing efforts, getting professionally-designed responsive email templates for your business can help get your message across well. This is especially true if you've got an online store. You can start with something like Shop, a responsive email template set from Envato Elements that works with most email marketing software. You can also browse through the other email templates available to find one that works with your brand.
3. Reach Out to Bloggers
When you’re just starting out with your website marketing and you don’t have an audience yet, one of the ways to rapidly grow your audience is to borrow the audience of someone else. You can do this by creating relationships with bloggers or influencers that your target audience tends to follow. The end game here is to develop a relationship well enough that they’ll end up reviewing your products, mentioning your business, or giving you a guest blogging spot (see tip #4 below).
To find bloggers in your industry, you can use a tool like the free version of FollowerWonk. Let’s say you've got an online organic food store. Simply search organic food, and FollowerWonk will come up with a list of Twitter users with the words “organic food” in their bio. Start following these users and getting to know them through their posts. In the coming year, be on the lookout for opportunities to reach out to them.
Some of the ways you can reach out regularly are the following:
- Reply to their public posts when you've got some additional insight to offer, or if you can answer their questions.
- Comment on their blog posts so they become familiar with you (if their blogging software allows you to create a profile, you can use your business name as your username and add a link to your website on your profile).
- "Like" or share their social media posts whenever relevant.
Remember: Reach out only if you can be helpful, and don’t do it for every post they make. Once you've established rapport with them, you can offer to send free samples of your products for review or recommend your own business whenever they ask for relevant recommendations.
4. Guest Blogging
Are you a skilled writer? If so, you can get some free website promotion by guest blogging. This means pitching an article topic or idea to a blog relevant to your target audience and, when approved, you can write that article for publication on the blog.
When your article gets published, you’ll have the opportunity to mention your website in your bio or even in the content of your article. Anyone who then reads your article and wants to know more will end up clicking on the links to your website. Plus, having new incoming links to your website can help with your search engine optimization.
To get started with guest blogging, look for online publications or blogs or that could benefit from your insight or experience. Browse the website for contact information for pitching article ideas. You can then contact the editor or owner of the blog and pitch an article idea to them. Here are some tutorials that can help with that:
- How to Score the Guest Posts That Will Get Your Freelance Blog NoticedCarol Tice18 Apr 2013
- How to Pitch a Guest Post (Email Template Included)David Masters01 May 2013
Since your article will be reaching the audience of the blog, the bigger the audience of the blog, the better for your business. Pitch only to blogs that are well-known, have lively comments sections, or have a large following.
5. Get Interview Opportunities
Another way to get free website marketing is to make yourself available as a resource person for interviews. These interviews could be from magazines, newspapers, blogs, local TV shows, radio shows, online publications, online video shows, or podcasts. The more relevant the venue is to your business, the better. Here are some ways you can look for interview opportunities:
- Look for podcasts, online video shows, and local media that cover your industry or the city/location of your business. Contact them and present yourself to the host as a possible future interviewee. List reasons why you’d be a good resource person. If you can, refer to previous episodes/articles and what you could have added if you were interviewed on that particular episode/article.
- Use tools like Help a Reporter Out or Source Bottle and list yourself as a subject matter expert in your field. These tools help journalists and bloggers get in touch with experts, and if that’s you, you’ll likely be able to mention your business or website.
6. Be Helpful in Online Communities
Another way to promote your website is to offer advice, answers, and insight in online communities that your target audience tends to join. Start by searching for online forums or groups that cover the problems you're trying to solve with your products and businesses. For example, if you run a pet supply store, you can look for online forums on pet care. Or, if you provide website design services to small businesses, you can look for online forums for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
You can also visit broad discussion groups and look for subgroups there that host discussions on your topic. Here are some sites you can try:
- Quora. Quora is a question and answer site. You can find many categories here including trivia, industries, and current events.
- reddit. reddit hosts many forums, known as "subreddits", on specific topics. If you're targeting an audience under a specific industry or have a particular hobby, you can try looking for subreddits in that topic.
- Stack Exchange. Stack Exchange is similar to reddit, but their most active communities have a technical slant.
- Facebook Groups. There are Facebook groups for almost every interest, hobby, and demographic group. Just do a search on Facebook for the type of group you're looking to reach, and odds are you'll see dozens of examples.
- LinkedIn Groups. Since LinkedIn is a social networking site for professionals, the groups here tend to be based on industry and profession.
- HackerNews. HackerNews is a social news site focusing on the tech startup community. If you're targeting tech startups and entrepreneurs, programmers, or computer scientists, this community is for you.
For this technique to work, you need to be helpful to other members without always pushing your business products. Answer their questions, offer tips, and contribute to group discussions. To make the most out of this technique, add your business website in your forum signature or use your business name as your profile name.
7. Create a Quality Piece of Evergreen Content
It’s tempting to commit to a blog when you first launch your website but, as a small business owner, starting and maintaining a blog can be time-consuming. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t release any content. Instead, create high-quality evergreen content that can be shared among your potential customers. This can be a video, whitepaper, eBook, report, a long form article, or an infographic.
Cook Smarts, a meal plan service, regularly releases high quality evergreen content that tends to go viral. Their infographics are simple but informative, making it easier for their branding to be seen by their target audience—people who are interested in food but don't have time to cook elaborate meals.
Video, especially when it evokes strong emotions, can also work well as evergreen content. Purple Feather, a copywriting agency in Glasgow, created a touching video ad that showed the power of words. In the video, a woman was able to help a beggar receive more donations by changing the words on his sign. The ad now has more than 27 million views on YouTube.
In other words, when creating content that could attract the attention of potential customers, focus on quality not quantity. When your content is high quality and you share it in the right channels, it won't be hard for your target audience to notice it and end up finding your business.
8. Submit to Online Directories
While yellow pages aren't as commonly used as they were two decades ago, online business directories can work really well for website promotion. Basically, you submit your business name, address, website, and other contact information to an online business directory. They'll then include your business in their listings, making your website and business more visible in search results.
Here are some online directories you can submit to:
- Google My Business
- Yahoo Small Business Listings
- LinkedIn Company Directory
- Yellow Pages
- Better Business Bureau
9. Send Out a Press Release
With your new website up and running, you can start with website marketing by letting journalists and other interested parties know that you’ve launched. You can do this by writing a press release announcing the launch of your website and making the story interesting by starting with what makes your business unique. This could be your background story, the way you source your products, or any other newsworthy items relevant to your business. Then, look up journalists or publications in your area, finding their contact information for press releases, and sending them your press release.
You can also use the following services to send out your press release for free:
Note that the above services also have paid press release writing and distribution services. Still, their free plans can allow you to get your press release out there and even have a backlink to your new website.
10. Add Your Website to Your Email Signature
Finally, you can also promote your small business website by adding it to your email signature. That way, all the emails you send out will have a call to action to visit your website. Apart from being free, this is also a very simple way to let people know about your site.
Here are some tips on creating compelling email signatures:
- How to Add a Professional Outlook Email Signature QuicklyLaura Spencer03 Sep 2018
- 30+ Best Ways to Sign Off Your Email (To Be More Memorable)Laura Spencer18 Jul 2017
If you want an email signature with great visuals that go with your brand, a design template could help. Check out the 1000 Email Signatures template pack by brandifystudio on Envato Elements if you want a lot of options:
But if you’re looking for email signatures that are responsive and would look equally great on both mobile and desktop, their responsive pack of email signatures might be the better option.
Website Marketing: Get Started for 2019
Getting traffic to your website is essential. The more unique visitors your website attracts, the more potential customers you’ll have. But doing this doesn’t need to be expensive.
You've just learned some basics for how to market a website. Once you use a combination of the above website promotion tips, potential customers will be able to find your website. Why not start your website marketing today?