These days it’s not enough to simply build a website, you also have to market it. Why? Well, as many quickly find out, the work doesn’t end when your site is launched—it’s only just begun. Now that your site is live, you need to begin marketing it so that your site will get found online and attract visitors (or traffic) to it. There are many ways to do this, from submitting your URL to Google to listing your business in relevant directories to implementing SEO strategies.
Haven’t actually built a site yet? Start by learning how to build your small business website.
1. Submit Your URL to Google
Best for: Every business with a new website
After launching your new website, the next step is to submit your URL to Google. This will help Google recognize your site online more quickly than if you were to wait for it to simply find your site eventually. When you submit your site, Google indexes your website and begins considering it in relevant search results. It’s free and easy to do and is highly recommended for every business with a newly launched website.
Check out the step-by-step details on how to submit a URL to Google.
2. Create a Google My Business Account
Best for: Service and local businesses of all sizes
Google My Business (or GMB) is a free business directory from Google. Brick-and-mortar businesses as well as service-based businesses should create a free GMB business listing as it helps people more easily find your site in Google search results. The reason is that even if your business website doesn’t rank well in search, GMB profiles do. And while these profiles help your business get found in search, they also include your business information, including your website.
Interested in creating your free GMB account? Follow the step-by-step instructions on using Google My Business.
3. List Your Business on All Relevant Directories
Best for: Service-based businesses (e.g., restaurants, construction, and tourism)
Think of online directories like new-age phone books. They’re used for finding local service providers, and these days, they’re also generally used to illustrate a business’ quality of service, given that most include user reviews. No matter which service industry you’re in, there’s most likely a suitable directory to list your business in. Then, when people use those directories, your business will be listed in search results, and in return, can generate traffic to your website.
Here are a few of the most popular online business directories:
- Yelp (for everything from restaurants and hotels to auto body shops and pet groomers)
- TripAdvisor (for everything travel and tourism)
- OpenTable (for bars and restaurants)
- Houzz (for everything home-related, from plumbers to interior designers and real estate photographers)
- Yellow Pages (all industries)
- Angie’s List (primarily home services, such as electricians, pool services, and pest control)
4. Put Your Website URL on Printed Materials
Best for: Businesses that use printed marketing materials (e.g., business cards or menus)
Marketing materials, whether business cards, signage, postcards, or anything else you put your business name and logo on, should also include your web address. This will help build awareness and generate traffic to your site. There are also ways you can get creative about this. For example, a bar could include its URL on coasters and invite patrons to vote for the next brew of the month, which releases that beverage at a promotional discount.
5. Promote Your Site In-person
Best for: Brick-and-mortar businesses
If your business has a physical location or a physical presence (e.g., a home cleaning service), then you should take advantage of the many opportunities to market your website in-person. This could be as simple as handing out flyers or business cards or putting your website URL on receipts. It could also be a lot more sophisticated, such as creating a marketing campaign around driving traffic to your website or starting a raffle or loyalty program.
6. Join Relevant Associations
Best for: Nearly any business
No matter which industry you are in, there’s likely an association related to it. While many assume associations are for those in the areas of medicine, law, and education, there are all sorts of associations you can join. In doing so, you’re able to not only network and use it to increase your credibility, but many associations have member directories, so they will often link to your business website from their site. This helps to increase visibility and also builds links.
7. Participate in Online Forums & Discussions
Best for: Businesses looking to build awareness by sharing their expertise
There are countless online forums and discussion boards covering just about any imaginable topic. Whether you’re a dog food manufacturer or a corporate event planning business, there’s a relevant forum where people are talking about subjects you’re likely an expert in. By getting involved in these conversations, you’re helping to build brand awareness for your business and may generate traffic to your site by including a link in your bio or in responses, where applicable.
Here are a few of the most popular online forums:
Tip: While forums such as Quora and Reddit cover nearly every topic you could imagine, there are also forums built specifically for certain industries and niches. To find those, simply search the web for forums in your niche (e.g., an organic supplements business might search for “holistic nutrition forums”).
8. Create a Blog
Best for: Businesses looking for a long-term strategy to build search engine optimization (SEO)
We’re all familiar with the 21st century blogging success stories, from food bloggers to travel bloggers. How did these people do it? Well, they started by frequently writing and publishing high-quality and authoritative blog content (in other words, articles). Blogging is an SEO strategy, which is a long-term strategy to build a web presence by writing articles that users are searching for online.
For example, a company that sells travel gear (e.g., backpacks and luggage bags) might create a blog and write articles, such as the best U.S. road trips for couples, tips on traveling with infants, or a guide on luggage size and weight limits by airline. After writing these articles, when people search, say, “what is the baggage limit on Hawaiian Airlines,” the business’ blog article may show up in search results. Users then click on it and go to the site, resulting in traffic.
Ready to get started with a blog? Learn how easy it is to set up a blog.
9. Become a Contributor on a Medium Publication
Best for: Those who want to write timely articles to existing audiences
Like the idea of blogging, but want to pair the long-term blog SEO strategy with a short-term blog strategy? Then consider becoming a contributor on a Medium publication, which, if you don’t know, is a popular blogging platform. There, you can apply to be a contributor or writer for existing publications, which essentially act as their own blogs or media channels. Because these publications have their own reader base, your blog posts will automatically get views.
10. Update Content Regularly to Help SEO Efforts
Best for: All businesses
Keeping your website content updated does two major things to keep your site marketable. First, it eliminates outdated information and keeps your site information accurate. Second, sites that are updated frequently are often considered to be a better search result as search engines assume up-to-date sites are more relevant and accurate, which in return, helps your site rank in search results. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to update your site daily, but every month or so.
11. Get Press Coverage
Best for: Any business with the ability to create newsworthy content
Media outlets are on a constant mission to find stories and content to share with their massive audiences. If you can give them a story to talk about, your business will get a lot of publicity, which can lead to increased website traffic. Luckily, getting press coverage no longer requires paying large retainers to public relations (PR) firms. Instead, a good writer can craft your message into a compelling story, which you can then distribute using a press release distribution service.
Want to learn more about crafting a story and landing press? Learn more about how you can use press releases to market your business.
12. Ensure Your Site Is Mobile-friendly
Best for: Businesses that haven’t designed their site for mobile
A large percentage of Google searches are performed on mobile devices. As a result, Google factors in whether or not a site is mobile-friendly to determine search rankings. In order to not only rank in search, but to serve those users on mobile, it’s important that your website is mobile-friendly. This does not mean simply choosing a fully responsive website theme or template, but customizing your site so it looks and functions well from any device type.
Pro tip: Use the viewport metatag to help enhance your site’s mobile experience. This will adjust your web pages based on the type of device website visitors use when accessing your site, ensuring that it always looks good and works well.
13. Optimize Your Site for Search
Best for: All businesses that want their site to get found in search engines
Search engines like Google work to display the best websites based on a user’s search query. That’s why when you search for a car wash near your location, you don’t get results for car washes on the other side of the country. And so while your site might be a great search result for keywords your target audience is using, that doesn’t mean your site will rank if Google isn’t able to comb your site and understand that it’s a good result.
To help your site get found in search, optimize your site for search. In other words, use search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. One common way to help boost SEO is by including relevant “keywords” across your site, so that when someone searches for “CNA jobs,” for example, a site that uses the phrase “CNA jobs” (and similar) will be read by Google and considered a good search result as it matches what the user is looking for.
Here are key places to include keywords on website content for better visibility:
- Blog content: Create blog content that addresses what your audience is searching for, and include natural references to the keywords they are using.
- Page titles: When coming up with a title for your blog posts, if you can do so with natural-sounding language, use the keyword you’ve chosen for the piece in the title. Do the same with product and service pages.
- Subheadings: Another place to signal to a reader where to find what they are looking for is to break up your content using subheaders that identify different sections of your site.
- Images: Search engines cannot see the images on your site, but you can include an ALT text description of your image so that when Google scans your site, it reads what your images are. In return, this further helps Google identify sites that best match a user’s search query.
- Permalink slugs: A slug is whatever comes after your domain name in a URL. For example, the slug in www.business.com/services is “services.” Help indicate to search engines what each page is about by including relevant keywords in slugs where applicable.
Important: While strategically placing keywords can be helpful for optimizing your content for search, it is imperative you don’t “stuff” them into your content just to rank well. Instead, Google wants you to use them naturally when and where they make sense.
14. Include Your Site URL in Your Social Profiles
Best for: Businesses that use social media
While this may seem obvious, many businesses on social overlook the opportunity to market their website by simply adding their URL to their social profile. If your business has social media accounts, such as a Facebook Business Page, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Pinterest account, then be sure to include a link to your website in your profile or bio. Why? First, it gives users an easy way of navigating to your site, but it also increases awareness.
Tip: There’s a lot you can do to market your website and your business using social media, particularly Facebook. Learn more about building a Facebook Business Page and using Facebook for Business.
15. Build a Contact List & Market Your Site via Email
Best for: Existing businesses with a new website
Nowadays, people are often talking about how a website can generate leads, or build a contact list. The challenge is, how do you build a contact list to market a website if your website isn’t getting much traffic? Well, there are a number of ways, and the best way for you will depend on your business and its unique audience.
For example, you could collect leads at a trade show or hold a social media promotional giveaway. Once you have contacts, use that list to promote your website. To get started, learn more about email marketing.
Pro tip: Track how your email performs and optimize your campaigns accordingly so that your emails become more effective. Learn more about how you can use data to build better campaigns with our guide on email analytics.
16. Increase Site Speed
Best for: Slow sites
No one wants to be left waiting for your site to load. After all, there are probably dozens of other sites they could choose, so if you make them wait, they will simply exit out and find a new site to visit (one that loads quickly). Since slow-loading sites create a bad user experience, slow sites typically do not rank as well in search. Unfortunately, it’s easy to end up with a site that loads at a snail’s pace, but the good news is that there are a number of simple things you can do to help.
Here are a few easy ways you can reduce website load times:
- Compress images: Compress elements that take up a lot of space (and so take a long time to load, like large images). Use a compression tool to easily and quickly compress images with tools such as Compressor.io or a WordPress plugin such as ShortPixel Image Optimizer.
- Remove unnecessary plugins: While plugins are great, they’re not all created equal and you’ll likely find some that really don’t do anything for you—yet they do take up storage, which can slow your site down. Check your active plugins and deactivate any you’re not using.
- Enable caching: Website caches store site elements, so that next time the visitor goes to your site, it loads much faster. It may sound complicated, but there are a number of free WordPress plugins you can use to enable caching, such as W3 Total Cache.
- Enable lazy loading: With lazy loading enabled on a website, if a visitor opens a web page, only the images within the visitor’s screen view will load and the others will load if and when the visitor scrolls to their point on the page. Fewer image loads equals faster load times. Use a plugin like Lazy Load to enable this feature on a WordPress website.
- Use a content delivery network (CDN): The farther you are from where your site files are stored, the slower your site will load. To combat this, use a CDN such as Cloudflare, which distributes your files to across a number of server locations so that no matter where visitors are, files are stored near them.
- Choose a fast web host: If all else fails, consider choosing a different web host—one that provides features specifically designed for fast website load times.
17. Get Traffic With Paid Search
Best for: Quickly getting found in search for those with an available marketing budget
Want to appear in search results as soon as possible? Try paid search advertising. Paid search is a form of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising where businesses can create an ad on search engines, such as Google and Bing, that appears as a top search result. It gives you a way to rank highly in search—even if your site doesn’t yet rank in search organically. Because you only pay when someone clicks on your ad, it’s considered a cost-effective marketing strategy.
Here are the top paid search platforms:
Interested in learning more? Get the complete breakdown, including cost and step-by-step instructions on how to build PPC campaigns.
18. Attract Visitors With Paid Social Ads
Best for: Businesses that offer products or services people want (rather than need)
Social media ads target people who are unaware of a product or service or aren’t specifically looking for it. The goal of social media ad campaigns is to build interest in products and services to attract new visitors from social media feeds to the company website, where they can learn more. There are a number of social platforms where you can create affordable PPC ads, from Facebook and Instagram to Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
Pro tip: Video ads continually prove to be more effective than image or text-based ads. Many small businesses remain reluctant to use video ads as they’re believed to be difficult or expensive to create, but there are a number of tools that can help you easily and affordably build a quality video ad, such as Biteable and Magisto.
19. Create Facebook Retargeting Ads
Best for: Businesses that have used social media advertising, such as Facebook Ads
If you’ve had some site traffic, but aren’t getting the conversions or sales you’re looking for, then it might be time to try retargeting ads. These are ads that are displayed to warm leads, or people who have visited your website previously using the Facebook Pixel. In doing so, you’re able to nurture those leads and convert them into sales.
Worried that retargeting ads sounds a bit too fancy or complicated? See how easy it is to set up Facebook retargeting ads, complete with step-by-step instructions.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best tools for marketing a website?
There are a ton of great tools for marketing a website. The top tools include: Google Analytics for free website data and analytics, Ubersuggest for free keyword research, Spyfu for competitor research, Vistaprint for print materials from business cards to menus and signs, Mailchimp for easy-to-use and free email marketing, Leadpages for creating high-converting landing pages for digital ads, Freshmarketer for tracking site visitors, and HubSpot for a robust marketing suite.
Which is better: SEO or PPC?
SEO and PPC are two very different marketing strategies to get found in search. SEO, or search engine optimization, is the long-term strategy of building content so that in time, your site gets found organically online. PPC, or pay-per-click advertising, is the short-term strategy of paying for ads so that your site ranks in search results and displays on social media.
Sometimes marketing a website is easier said than done. That’s why it’s so important to have a strategy for attracting visitors to your website. These strategies can help you get started with simple ideas that lead to just that, resulting in more customers for your business.
If you’re still finding that you really don’t have the time to market your site, it might be worth outsourcing your website marketing efforts to the experts. By using a professional marketing agency, such as Hibu, many businesses find that their return on investment increases, making it a worthwhile investment.