Getting your company or personal website to rank on the three major search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN) is the quickest and most effective way to boost your sales and grow your business. Many search engine optimization (SEO) companies charge an arm-and-a-leg for ranking services, when you can do much of the work yourself for a fraction of the cost.
Marketing your business online is easier, and more importantly cheaper, than you probably realize. By using free web marketing tools and capitalizing on free social mediums you can easily drive traffic to your website and interact with your customers for no cost and very little time. Online social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube require nothing more than a valid email account and password, and give your business free access to millions of potential customers. Social bookmarking sites such as Digg and StumbleUpon are a couple more free resources that will spread your product or message like wildfire.
Social media, also known as Web 2.0, is no longer for the kids. Don’t be fooled by the flashy profiles and young founders; networking online has become the driving force behind many marketing campaigns. Social marketing is still a new strategy for many major companies, but with literally hundreds-of-millions of users from all demographics, these free platforms provide great potential. According to a recent article on Forbes.com, social media outlets allow CEO’s and companies to interact with their customers daily in a highly productive way. Starbucks, for example, uses Twitter to get direct feedback from customers and update them on new products.
The majority of Web 2.0 users are between the ages of 18-34, and while MySpace still attracts the younger crowd, Facebook, Squidoo, and even LinkedIn are great for reaching the buying public in an innovative way. The best part about these free networks is that they come with built-in blog, photo, and email applications. These are the tools that make conveying your message and redirecting traffic to your site easier then ever.
There are two simple things to remember when setting up a social networking account: use keywords in your profile name, and use a catchy profile picture. Your profile picture is the first thing that customers will see when browsing the internet or considering your online ‘friendship.’ Your profile picture can be your logo, but in some cases it is preferable to set up an account as the company CEO, rather than as the business itself. If you are a photographer, for example, it is well worth your time to set up a Flickr profile with examples of your best work. By setting up a free account as an individual, you can blog about your work on upcoming projects, post pictures of your business convention, and interact on a more personal level. While statistics show that a certain amount of trust is already given to a social network ‘friend,’ that trust only enhances when the interaction is with an individual instead of a business.
Setting up a social profile, whether it be on Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter involves finding the “Sign Up” tab (or “Join” tab) usually located on the right-hand-side near the “Sign In” tab. You will be prompted to enter your email address and new password. I would suggest using your company email or setting up a free Gmail account using your business name.
When creating a profile on YouTube and Twitter, you will be instantly asked for a username. You basically have two options here: use your company name or use an optimized keyword name. Use free online tools such as Wordtracker and Google Keywords to research what names will attract more traffic. If your business name is already optimized, then you have the best of both worlds. Keep in mind that this will be how a customer finds you on these social platforms. When a user searches for new ‘friends,’ they will enter a keyword to find profiles. For example, if a MySpace user is searching for an Arizona Cardinal’s fan, they will type in the keyword Arizona Cardinals. If you happen to have a business selling Cardinal’s apparel, using this keyword is highly productive for you.
Use the free online tool CheckUserNames.com to simultaneously check multiple social networks for user name availability. From this site you can test your keyword optimized profile name, and sign up for many accounts quickly and easily.
When it’s time to fill in your personal information, don’t be too professional. Have some fun with it while conveying your company’s message. In order to update your personal information on MySpace, you’ll have to go to “Edit Profile” under the “Profile” tab near the top of your screen. From this page you will be able to change the look of your profile and add to your “About Me” section.
After creating your account, you will have to check your email to authenticate your profile. This is why you must use a valid email address. Follow the setup steps as prompted, and within a matter of minutes you have created your first social marketing site. Of course, it’s definitely not advised that you simply come out and post your product all over the network. That is a great way to get blocked and rejected by every user on every platform. MySpace comes equipped with a “Spam” tab to use when you send an unwanted or commercial email. If too many of your recipients mark your email as “Spam,” you run the great risk of being banned from MySpace.
Once your profiles are created and customized, it’s time to get down to work. Remember, you can have an account in every social network and can optimize each one to drive traffic back to your site. The more free profiles that you have, the more opportunity you give yourself to organically rank higher on search engine report pages (SERPS). By organically, I simply mean to rank on the top three search engines without paying for it through Pay-Per-Click strategies or paid advertising.
Each Web 2.0 platform thrives under different strategies. MySpace is a great platform for “shock-and-awe.” Search engine guru’s still typically stay away from this free medium. However, if you’re targeting a younger crowd, have a band or gaming product, this is the perfect free resource. Tools such as Pyzam will help you build your site with flair. To market your profile, use some of your email marketing skills to reach “friends.” Use a lot of art, photos and videos to convey your message. MySpace is an extremely visual medium, and you can use this to your advantage. Use banners that redirect traffic to your site. Embed links in every picture, video, and piece of artwork on your profile that will lead traffic back to your website. buy youtube social shares