Free Advertising Ideas for Online Business

In today’s economy it is important for every small business to utilize as many free advertising venues as they can get their hands on. These ideas should make the advertising process a little easier.

Host a Contest or Event

This will open up new avenues for advertising. There are many websites out there dedicated to informing people about contests and events that its members might be interested in. Charge a small fee to enter in order to cover the cost of the prizes and you will get traffic from a group of people who might not otherwise find you.

Local Advertising

You can often call up a local newspaper to do a human interest story or business story for your company. You can also submit your own articles to local papers and magazines for consideration. This method works best for non-metropolitan areas but it never hurts to try. The worst thing a person can tell you is no!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Learning SEO techniques is one of the best free ways to gain exposure to your website. A few tips include using only a few keyword terms per page, maintaining a .5%-5% keyword density rate, utilizing your meta tags and image tags, creating and submitting XML sitemaps, as well as using keywords in your URL.

Personal Touches

Adding personal touches to your business is a great way to get repeat clientele or a good way to close a sale. Send truly personalized emails, newsletters about not only your services but also your family or friends. Insert gifts with every purchase or even jotting a quick thank you note and mailing it will tell your customer that they truly matter to you.

Article Submission

Submitting SEO rich articles to article submission sites can be a great way to advertise your website or services. Do not, however, submit the same articles that are on your website. Search engines penalize duplicate content. Instead you should rewrite a few of your articles first.

Link Building

The more inbound, one-way links your website has the higher it will rank in search engines. These inbound links work best if the websites linking to you are relevant to your main focus. These links are the only ones that search giant Google recognizes. To build links you can post blogs or guest blog for someone, submit articles and press releases, email webmasters, post in forums and comment on blogs. Remember that these links are not only for the search engines, they can also drive legitimate traffic.

Free Classifieds

Submitting a well worded link to a free classified can return decent traffic. Describe your website in an intriguing way and curious people will click your link.

Social Networking

Websites like MySpace and  FaceBook can be great sites to advertise through. You can build a website just for your business and advertise directly to your “friends”. My personal technique for acquiring friends involves seeking out groups with an interest in my topic and requesting friend adds from those members. If you only request 20 -40 friends a day you will not likely be marked as spam. The key to getting friends is to type up a generic message without any links,

“Hi, I noticed you are a chef. My website is running a recipe contest. You should check it out!”

I’ve found that notes like this in a friend request results in about 1 of every 3 people I approach adding me as a friend. Once your friend list is established you can blog, email or post bulletins about your business.

Social Bookmarking

A new trend in online advertising involves social bookmarking sites like Digg and StumbleUpon. See www.AddThis.com for your own social bookmarking button. It is now (practically) mandatory for all websites to allow for social bookmarking. If you have viral content on your website it can really pay off.

Viral Videos

Diet coke and mentos, exploding bathtubs, and bikes playing Guitar Hero are a few themes of viral videos made for close to nothing. If you have a video camera it is worth a shot to try to post a viral video on YouTube. Of course this is no easy task. It is impossible to tell what will become viral. Other video options involve posting information relevant to your site online. You can make a simple slideshow with music and text with Microsoft MovieMaker. Place a link to your site on your videos and in your profile. Over time you should reap results.

Alternate Directories

There are many online directories aimed at specific interests. These directories aim to help consumers find the best websites and information available. To find these directories simply search a relevant term and “directory”. For my website, www.ArgyleGifts.com, I would search something like, “shopping directory” and a rather large list will appear. This is one of the best ways to get pointed traffic.

When it comes to advertising it does not always have to cost an arm and a leg. There are many advertising options out there for free. While free advertising may take a little more time it will surely save you a lot of headaches.

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