One of the groups that I attend is the Chorley 4N Networking Group, where I am what they call Group Leader; basically, I read the script and try to keep order. It’s like herding cats.
Well, today (Tuesday 8th January 2019), I will not be reading the script, but I will instead be presenting the 4Sight, or information slot. I’ve titled it ‘How To Boss 2019 With Your Business Online’, although I only actually have 15 minutes in which to speak, so I naturally can’t cover everything.
Instead, I intend to provide some very basic and easy-to-follow pointers, which should enable anyone from any business, with no matter how much online experience, to start harnessing the power of the internet to grow their business. It will be a whistle-stop tour of digital marketing.
And, as I am a good content marketer, I’m reiterating what I’ll say today in this blog post, which will support the presentation and provide a reference for anyone who needs it.
Hence, for your delectation, here are the main points. I’ve split the presentation into five straightforward points so, no matter how experienced – or otherwise – you are with the online world, you can follow these steps to grow your business online in 2019.
Please note that this presentation is aimed at a very varied audience of business owners, some of whom don’t even yet have a website, hence starts from a much more scaled back position than many of our other blogs posts. Nevertheless, I feel there is something of value in it to anyone, regardless of how experienced you are in digital marketing.
Anyway, let’s crack on.
- Get A Website
OK, I told you I was starting with the basics.
If you want to succeed in growing your business online in 2019, you’re going to have to start with a website.
Actually, I’ll clarify that, because it is actually possible to grow your online profile as a business without a website, using social media, but it’s harder. That method also usually only works well for sole traders or people whose business and personal profiles are intertwined, such as mindset coaches or independent financial advisors, for e.g.
Having said that, it can also work well for those whose business is a franchise, but I haven’t got time to discuss that in full here, so I’ll come back to it in a later blog post.
For everyone else, especially larger businesses or those focussed on growth, you need to get a website. Here’s why.
Think about how you look for a business these days, whatever type of business it is. You don’t get out the Yellow Pages any more, you don’t even take a walk down the High Street just in case what you want is there. We’re all busy; if we want something, we look online to find where it is, how much it costs and when it’s open, then we get in touch.
I don’t think I’ve interacted with a single company in the last year or so where I haven’t checked them out online first.
Believe me, if you’re not online – if you’ve not got a website – your competitors are and have, and they’re getting business that could be yours.
Unfortunately though, many people make the mistake of thinking that they can get a fancy new website and that will be it, job done. But I’m afraid that’s not how the world works anymore. Once upon a time you could have done that – built a website and left it and, hey presto, new business. But not now.
That’s because, since those heady days (just in case you haven’t noticed) the internet has grown somewhat. There are now almost 2 billion websites on the internet; if you think you can build a one or two page website and leave it and people will still find it and call you, you are sorely mistaken I’m afraid.
Still, a lot of businesses will spend all of their digital budget on building the fanciest website they can, with no thought or money put in to marketing and optimising it once it’s live. These days, building a great website is not the end goal, it’s simply the first step in an ongoing process.
It’s the foundation stone upon which everything else is constructed.
Sure Your Website Is Good
This sounds like another obvious point, but you’d be amazed at how many people don’t think their website needs to be very good. Or, rather, how many people think that they can get away with having a crap or mediocre website.
Or, at least, if you have a crap website, don’t expect it to rank or for it to generate any business for you.
Admittedly, some people and businesses are fine with that; they just want what I call a ‘business card’ website – an online representation of their business, just in case anyone does need to look up their phone number or find their address.
However, if you’re looking to grow your business, or if you want to future proof your business (because the world is increasingly online) then just settling for a basic website ain’t gonna cut the mustard I’m afraid.
That’s not to say that you’re only going to succeed if you have an enormous website like the BBC, or that you have to be adding oodles of content to your website each week or working on it for hours every day. You don’t; there are ways of streamlining this stuff so that you only need to spend a couple of hours a week marketing your business online.
But it does mean that a basic Wix website isn’t going to get you where you want to go, if world domination is what you’re after.
There’s one very quick and easy way to tell what standard your website needs to be at if you want to grab those top spots on the Google rankings, and that’s to look at what your competition are doing.
So, what might someone be searching for if they’re trying to find your business (i.e. what are your keywords)? Google it. What comes up top? That’s the website you need to beat.
Take a look at how much content they’ve got, how often they’re updating the content on their website, how often they’re posting to social media, how well-designed their website is, how easy it is to find the information you want, how many of your questions they’re answering. That’s what you need to do on your website.
Don’t panic though; you don’t have to do it instantly. But that’s precisely why SEO and digital marketing are long-haul games. There are some quick wins, sure, but most of it won’t be instant. This is something you’re going to have to work on consistently for some time before you really reap the rewards.
Which is precisely why you need to be in there now, doing it. Because if you’re not, your competition are, and they’ll be cementing their position at the top and getting all those lovely potential customers for the next few years instead of you.
It also doesn’t mean that it needs to cost you a fortune; it doesn’t. Just because a billy basic website isn’t going to do the trick, it doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to spend tens of thousands of pounds on designing and building your website. Whether you go for a custom-built, bespoke website or an off-the-shelf WordPress website, you can still do what’s necessary to get it to rank.
So, think about what type of website your business needs now, think about what type of website your business will need in five years’ time once you’ve grown, think about the features and functionality you need and who you need to beat, then get the best website you can for your budget. Just don’t assume that’s then the end of the process, because it’s only the beginning.
To Create Content For Your Website
So you’ve got your awesome website; it’s not enormous but it’s got all the features you’ll need and has all the necessary building blocks required to grow from here.
Now what do you do? Now is the time to begin content marketing.
For the uninitiated, content marketing just means that you start to create content about whatever service or product you provide. It could be blogs, web pages, articles, white papers, surveys, infographics, testimonials, video content; in fact it can be any kind of content you like. But whatever format it comes in, you just need to start creating it.
Why? For the very simple reason that Google (and all the other search engine algorithms) like content. They love it, in fact.
The whole purpose of search engines is to answer questions. How do we use the internet? We go to it and ask it questions. Not just one, but multiple questions.
For example, I might go to Google and ask, ‘how do I optimise my website for search engines?’. My next questions might then be ‘what are keywords?’, then ‘what are meta descriptions?’, then ‘where do I put the meta description on a WordPress website?’ etc. etc. My questions get more detailed or specific each time, as I get more knowledge or get further into the process, or funnel.
Google knows, whenever anyone asks it any question, what the next five questions asked after that are likely to be. Thus, what Google wants to do with every searcher is provide you with the website that is going to answer all of those questions in one go. What Google doesn’t want you to do is have to keep clicking off and going to a different website each time you need an answer, because then you might think that Google is rubbish and start using Bing instead.
That’s why, if your website can answer all of the questions that anyone looking for any of your products or services might ever ask, Google is more likely to return your website than anyone else’s.
Google also wants to know that it’s not giving the searcher an out-of-date website full of old information that hasn’t been updated for ages, hence the need to update the content on your website frequently. Plus it wants to know that you know what you’re talking about, that this is your area of expertise, that you can be trusted to provide the right answers for people asking questions about your industry or sector, hence the reason you need to write widely about your specialist subject and, basically, show off.
You know what you’re talking about, you know what you do, so tell the world about it.
Hence, content marketing.
Write great content about who you are and what you do, upload it to your website frequently, demonstrate clearly to the search engine algorithms that you know your onions, you’re an industry expert, a thought leader, and that your business can be trusted to provide the right answers for people asking questions.
If you build up that proof of expertise over time and demonstrate clearly that you are reliable, knowledgeable and trustworthy, the search engines will rank you, more people will find you and your business grows as a result.
For 2019 especially, trust is one of the big watchwords. Thanks to some recent algorithm updates by Google, websites that can clearly demonstrate trust, be that through testimonials, a TrustPilot score, recommendations, Google or Facebook reviews or even just positive, reinforcing comments on blogs etc., are going to have a head start. Demonstrate clearly that your customers can trust you and you’ll then be in a good position to build on that.
Again, it’s not instant, but start now and by this time next year you could have built your website into something amazing. Even if you just write one blog a week, by 8th January 2020, you’ll have 52 blogs on your website that answer all your customers’ queries and show just how clever you are.
Start now, and by this time next year, Rodney, you could have the best website in your sector.
Yourself Everywhere Online
Of course – you’ve guessed what I’m going to say – you can’t stop there though.
So many people make the mistake of thinking that content creation is enough. Create the content and people will find it.
It works to a certain extent; content creation in and of itself is never a wasted effort. Your domain authority will rise (slowly), your rankings will improve (probably) and the traffic to your website will increase (eventually), but it’s a bit like throwing half of your picnic down the toilet. You’ve made the sandwiches now, you might as well share them out.
If you want to maximise the impact of all your hard work (and why wouldn’t you?), then you need to start sharing your content anywhere and everywhere online. You need to help people to find it and you need to really emphasise to the world that you are the best source of all knowledge about your industry. You need to really cement your position as the expert in what you do.
Naturally, the easiest way to do this is to harness social media; it’s quick and easy and, most importantly, it’s free.
First of all, you need to find the right platforms for you, so think about where your audience are likely to be and go to them there. For example, are your target audience most likely to be on Twitter, Snapchat or LinkedIn? Maybe, if you have a particularly visual product or service, they’re more likely to be on Instagram or Pinterest? Do your research and figure out where they are, then go to them.
Also, many businesses make the mistake of forgoing Facebook, especially those who are in more technical/industrial or legal/financial sectors. There are about 2.5 billion users on Facebook at the moment; trust me, whatever business you’re in, your customers are on Facebook.
The thing to remember, though, is to tailor your content to what people are looking for on that particular platform. That doesn’t mean that you can’t share all your content on all your social platforms, but maybe if you’ve got a more technical piece it might do better on LinkedIn, whilst something that’s more of a lifestyle piece might do better on Facebook?
Naturally, this means that you don’t just share your own content. If you spend your entire life on social media only talking about yourself, then everyone will get bored. You need to be a show-off, but you need to share the love.
The general rule is that for every piece of your own content you share, you should be sharing two pieces of other people’s content, be that newspaper or journalistic articles, other people’s blogs, even funny memes; if it’s about your industry, or even if the link to what you do is tenuous, just share it. Become the fount of all knowledge about what you do, the place where folk come first to hear the latest.
Just as example (and I’m not saying we’re the perfect example, by any stretch) take a look at GrowTraffic’s social media output on either Facebook or Twitter. We share all our blogs out on our social media (each blog goes out at least 3 or 4 times, at different times of the day and with a different message each time) but we also share other news about SEO, SEO Copywriting and anything else we think our audience might be interested. It’s an eclectic mix of stuff, but there’s something on there for everyone.
Above all, remember that you are on SOCIAL media, so be social. Have a sense of humour. Use it like your online networking community and give the people what they want.
Essentially, just get online, on any platform, and shout about what you do. Create your content in whichever way you want then share it and lead people back to your website. Generate a buzz around you, around your sector, around your products and services. The search engine algorithms will pick up your activity and will give you credit for it, in turn once again increasing your rankings and permitting more traffic to your website.
One thing you may have to consider especially in 2019, however, is paid social. Thanks to the way the social media platforms have been changing their algorithms recently, it’s become more and more tricky to market any business on social without some sort of paid advertising at some stage. It can be done the organic way, o course, but it requires dedication and time. If you want to take a short cut, consider paying for some Facebook ads, for e.g.; they won’t cost a fortune, but they will bypass some of the work for you.
Ultimately though, just get on there and get sharing content; you’ll get more customers and more profit for your bottom line.
And the final stage of all of this online activity?
The final stage is that there is no final stage. You’ve just gotta keep on keeping on!
One of the hardest things about all of this is just getting into the habit of doing all of this. Once you’ve got the ball rolling – once it’s become part of your weekly working routine to promote your business online – keep going.
Use the many free tools available, whether that be Facebook Insights or Google Analytics, to asses your activity and work out what’s working and what isn’t. Constantly re-evaluate what you’re doing to make sure you’re giving people what they want.
If posting on social media at certain times of the day goes down well, then post more at that time. If a particular blog post garnered you a load more traffic to your website, then write more content about that issue. Ask your customers or current clients what they’d like more of, what you’re doing well, or what they’re sick of hearing about from you.
If you’re constantly being asked the same question by your customers or suppliers, for example, then use that to create some content.
Look again at what your competitors are doing; can you recreate some of their content but put your own spin on it? Read or listen to the news each morning; is there anything there that is relevant to you, which you can offer a valid opinion on? Then write a Facebook post, blog post or even a press release and get it out there.
As I wrote in last week’s blog post, the key to success online in 2019 isn’t any different really to the approach required in 2018, you just need more of it. Bigger, better content; more targeted social media; paid digital marketing if needs be.
But don’t stress; the long and short of it is that you just have to be the best business you can possibly be and have the best website you could possibly have, and you’re guaranteed to grow your business in 2019.
But then, you were doing that anyway, weren’t you?
I’m fully aware that all of that is an utter whistle-stop tour around digital marketing and has barely touched the surface. Hence, if you’d like to know in more detail what you need to be doing in 2019 to ensure you grow your business online, or if you’d like to work with an award winning SEO agency who have not only managed to achieve this for our clients but who have also done it for ourselves, then please do get in touch with GrowTraffic today.
We can either do the work for you, or we can work with your team to ensure you bring the skills you need in-house. Either way, we can make sure that 2019 will be your best year yet.