Advertise and get noticed online

Advertising your business online

Written by: Johann Barnard

Digital marketing is great way to grow your business. It’s generally cheaper, more immediate, more targeted, and you can track and analyse your results more effectively. Also, you can implement campaigns yourself.

Digital agencies obviously have a role to play as they have the expertise from doing this on a daily basis, but you can easily take the first steps yourself by following a few basic guidelines.

Getting noticed
One of the easiest ways to make sure potential customers find your business is to have your web site appear in search engine queries.

The key to getting noticed is the ensure your web site is ‘search engine optimised’ (SEO). Getting your site SEO optimised requires no technical skills, only attention to detail.

What SEO does is ensure that your web site contains certain content that makes it easier for search engines to determine what your business does and what it sells.

Google has been kind enough to produce this introductory guide (a .pdf document) that helps you understand what SEO is, how it works and what you need to do to optimise your site.

By following the steps described you can improve the chances of your web site standing out from your competitors.

There are also a number of free online services that check how well your site is optimised for search engines. http://seositecheckup.com/ is one such service, but there are many more you can find by searching the Internet.

Paying to get noticed
Advertising your business online is surprisingly simple. The most common method is to buy small display ads that appear in Google searches, or on websites with which Google has agreements to place display ads.

If someone is searching for “hardware store” “Randburg”, for example, your ad for your hardware store in Randburg would appear on the search results page. The beauty of this form of advertising is that you only pay for adverts once they are clicked on – which is why this is called pay-per-click advertising.

Once again, Google has provided a whole range of tools to make this easier for you. By using Google AdWords you can build campaigns yourself. The service allows you to create your ad, select the search keywords that you want to be associated with, and provides you with the cost per keyword chosen.

More popular search terms can be more expensive, but then why pay less to miss out on the market you’re aiming at? Costs per click are also very affordable – from a few cents, to maybe a few rand per click.

Adwords also allows you to set a daily limit on how much you want to spend, so you won’t receive any nasty surprises.

Apart from the ease of setting up your online ads, you also get immediate feedback on how many times the ad has been clicked, what the visitor did after clicking on your ad: did they buy a product, did they sign up for your newsletter, did they request a call-back? This is extremely powerful in understanding your customer needs and preferences.

Advertising online is no guarantee of success, but doing so is quicker and easier than traditional advertising. And you can adapt your campaign and search terms on the fly as you learn what works and what doesn’t work.