Free advertising. In the old days it was simple. Just hang a shingle and people would get to know you. Today the world is a different place. People have more choices and are using information from the internet to make decisions.
Did you know 85% of consumers are searching for local businesses online?
Most business owners understand that the internet is the place to reach new customers these days, but they face 2 major challenges.
- Paying to get in front of these customers can be expensive?
- It’s easy to waste a lot of time with “free” or “low cost” methods?
In a moment I will show you the best place online to get free advertising. Here’s why it is so good:
- It’s a place where millions of people go each day to find local businesses.
- You only need to set it up once and it won’t cost you a dime.
- You don’t need technical expertise or a website (although a website can be helpful).
- It can be done in less than an hour, so it won’t suck away a lot of time.
- Works with any type of local business, even if you’re business is mobile or you work out of your home.
Any idea of what this is?
Here’s a clue. I’d be willing to bet you have used it yourself, and I guarantee you know a lot of people who use it everyday. However, you may be unaware that you can get free advertising there.
Yep, I am talking about Google. There are over 40,000 searches made on Google per second and 43% of those are local.
Google is the very best place to be seen because there is high intent. People search because they need something and usually want it right away.
The only problem is, if you want to advertise on Google it’s going to cost you. With Google ads you are paying for every single click and you are bidding against your competitors for the best placement.
The screenshot below shows what Google’s recommended bid is for a click when someone searches for the term “auto mechanic”.
$5.60 may not seem like much, but that’s just for a click. It can take 10-20 clicks to get a call, so you could end up paying $56-$112 per call.
I’m not saying Google ads (AdWords) doesn’t work. AdWords can work, but you have to know what you are doing. In many cases, you need to bid based on the LTV (lifetime value) of a customer rather than what you would expect immediately in terms of ROI.
The upfront cost can make AdWords a poor option for businesses with limited budgets and resources.
So how do you compete if you are a small business owner who may not even have a website?
Google has special section for local businesses that shows up right on the first page. Usually at the very top of the page right under the paid ads.
To get listed you need to claim or submit your business to Google.
Keep in mind that every business gets listed with Google, but only a few are on the first page of the search results. Google recently lowered the number of business listed from 7 to 3 as you can see in the screenshot below.
To get your business listed on the first page takes a little work, but it is well worth it. Here is a quick guide with steps you can take that will help your business listing hit the first page in search.
Steps To Getting Free Advertising Space On The First Page
- Develop a list of words people may type into a search engine when they are looking for the products and services you provide. We call these “keywords”. You can brainstorm and there are a lot of tools available to help you come up with a list. The nice thing about using the tools is you can see how many people are actually searching for those terms.
- Make sure keywords have local intent. This means that when the keyword is typed into Google it shows the map and a list of matching local businesses right under it. Like in the example above.
Sometimes you will not see a map. Instead you will see a local company’s Google listing prominently displayed on the right hand side. Below is an example of how we were able to do this for one of our clients Dr Auto Tech. Companies can dominate the first page of search results when they build a strong web presence.
- Incorporate your keywords as much as possible into the listing, but make sure you write everything so it sounds natural. Google will penalize you if you just stuff keywords into the listing.
- Make sure you categorize your listing correctly. Here is a sneaky trick that works well. Do a search for your desired keywords than take a look at the top listed companies and use the same categories as them. Below is an example for the search term “transmission repair Reno”.
- Add images and videos to your listing. Don’t use generic photos. High quality photos will get you better results because users get an accurate representation of what they’re looking for.
- Ask your customers to submit a review. After 3 reviews you will see the stars next to your listing making it stand out more. Getting at least 7 reviews can also help you rank better.
- While you don’t need a website to claim your listing, it is very helpful especially in competitive markets. If you don’t already have a website you can get a free website from us. All you’ll need to pay for is the hosting which starts at $7 per month.
- It is also important to go out and get high quality citations and links. Citations are online directories and websites that list your business information. It is very important that you keep this information consistent. Make sure that your NAP (Name Address and Phone) is the exact same everywhere your business is listed online, and make sure you don’t have duplicate listings.
This should be enough to get you started. In smaller towns and less competitive markets this will get you to the first page. However….
In more competitive markets you may need to hire professional help because this will be an ongoing battle. You can think of it as a race. Competitors are doing everything they can to get in top positions so ongoing work is required to attain these limited top spots and to stay there.