At the time of writing this, InternetLiveStats shows that over 3.6 billion people are using the Internet. Targeted Google and Facebook Ads have their place, but there are plenty of free ways to market online. I have an SEO Analyzer tool on my website because I understand how important this is. Start a blog According to WordPress, every month, more than 409 million people read over 23.7 billion blog posts on its platform. The trick to marketing in Facebook Groups is sharing valuable content (which is why a blog is helpful for your website). Comment on relevant content Once you have some blog posts published, an effective (and free) way to get backlinks on reputable sites is to put them there yourself. It’s not necessary to start off with an email automation platform, but you’ll at least need a list. Rebuyers is one of many marketing automation platforms that can reach your customers. By responding to online reviews, you not only show the customer that you provide great service, but everyone else who researches your company will see it, too. Small businesses can take advantage of a ton of free tools to collaborate globally and compete against big businesses.
If you’re reading this, I assume you’ve heard of the Internet.
Most people have.
At the time of writing this, InternetLiveStats shows that over 3.6 billion people are using the Internet.
That’s a lot of people!
And the user base is steadily growing.
That’s why eMarketer estimates that digital ad spending will grow from $83 billion in 2017 to $129.23 billion by 2021.
In fact, 2017 is the year digital ad spending finally overtakes TV spending.
Mobile is a big part of that.
So are social media and video.
Over half that budget is being spent on Facebook and Google.
What a waste of money!
Don’t get me wrong. Targeted Google and Facebook Ads have their place, but there are plenty of free ways to market online.
If you’re a small business owner trying to compete in the big leagues, this blog is for you.
I’m going to share a list of all the free tools and strategies that can help you compete with major conglomerates through content marketing.
I’ll also explain how to minimize costs and stretch budgets for things you can (or have to) pay for.
It doesn’t take a huge corporate budget to compete online.
Let’s get started.
1. Tighten up your SEO
The first thing you need to do is analyze your current SEO situation.
I have an SEO Analyzer tool on my website because I understand how important this is.
All you have to do is enter your URL to get a deep, page-level SEO analysis.
You can also check how your site compares to the competition.
Enter 3 additional websites for a competitive analysis.
Of course, mine is just one of many SEO tools.
I don’t see SEMRush as a competitor but as a supplementary tool for checking a site’s SEO.
These tools are free, so why not get multiple opinions?
Here’s what SEMRush has to say about NeilPatel.com.
This shows us how many keywords I rank for, along with how many backlinks I’ve earned.
You’ll notice I don’t spend any money on paid Google ads.
The $500k+ cost of my traffic was earned organically for free.
The main components you’re looking for on my SEO analyzer are which keywords you rank for, along with their frequency of usage.
It’s also important to know if the keywords are used in the title tag, description tag, and header tags.
Google gives more weight to these factors.
Once you have a general idea of how you’re ranking against everyone else, you can start to improve.
2. Perform more keyword research
I can’t stress enough how important keyword research is.
Even though I’ve been in the game for a long time, I still perform fresh keyword research several times a week.
That’s how you stay on top of search results!
If you don’t already know, Google Adwords has a great Keyword Planner Tool.
It’s the first place you should go to research relevant keywords that you can rank for.
An easy way to use Keyword Planner is to check for searches related to keywords that show up in your Google Analytics Acquisition reports.
For every search term that already points to your website, you’ll get a handful more.
That opens up a lot of opportunities for you to rank against your competitors!
What it takes to hit all those keyword opportunities is pages with content.
You’ll need to start a blog.
3. Start a blog
According to WordPress, every month, more than 409 million people read over 23.7 billion blog posts on its platform.
That’s a lot of content, so you’re going to need a quality blog to draw attention to your site.
Hiring a content mill to fill pages with overstuffed keywords that provide no value to readers won’t do any good.
Blogs are the 5th most trusted online resource according to recent research.
Creating a blog should be an option within your CMS, but if it’s not, a separate blog hosted on WordPress or Blogspot can prove just as useful.
Just be sure your contact information is readily available.
If you’re wondering how long it takes to write a quality blog post, nearly half of bloggers say they spend 1-3 hours on each post.
A blog is the foundation of a few other tactics I’ll discuss later in this list, so get started today.
4. Join or create a Facebook group
Facebook Groups are underrated by marketers.
These user-administrated public forums within Facebook allow like-minded people to discuss and share ideas.
Keep in mind that most group moderators will remove overly spammy posts and people.
The trick to marketing in Facebook Groups is sharing valuable content (which is why a blog is helpful for your website).
Many groups have memberships that range from 1,000 to 100,000, but some get even bigger.
Search for groups using Facebook’s search bar, or scroll through its suggestions a few times a month to expand your audience.
When you reach advanced status, you can create your own Facebook Group, which is much more effective for audience growth than a business page or profile.
Facebook Groups are a goldmine for small businesses that are looking for an edge over the competition without spending money.
5. Participate in forums
Of course, Facebook isn’t the only online forum where you can participate in discussions.
Getting involved in other forums is a great way to spread the word about your brand (and sprinkle backlinks around the web).
Building your reputation on community forums like these help people see you as an innovative thought leader in your industry.
It’s a great marketing strategy for building trust.
Quora is another platform I recently got attached to.
On Quora, you can answer questions as an expert and gain a level of credibility by showcasing your inside knowledge.
Quora rewards visual content, so format your posts for your specific audience.
6. Comment on relevant content
Once you have some blog posts published, an effective (and free) way to get backlinks on reputable sites is to put them there yourself.
Comment on relevant articles with valuable advice, and provide a link to your blog for more information.
But it can’t be spammy!
Bloggers love generating comments, and the author of the blog post you comment on is likely to read it.
It opens more conversation and networking opportunities.
The more you comment, the more brand awareness you generate. People will start to recognize your name and business.
7. Build an email list
Email lists are often overlooked by startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses.
A solid email list is worth its weight in gold!
The majority of marketers find that email marketing serves as a top channel for lead generation.
For every $1 spent on an email marketing campaign, companies achieve an average $44 in ROI.
It’s consistently found to be more effective than Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social channels.
Emails are more likely to be read than social media posts, and the clickthrough rates are amazing!
These platforms provide simple templates and automated emails based on triggered events.
It’s not necessary to start off with an email automation platform, but you’ll at least need a list.
Also, be sure there’s an email subscription option on each of your web properties.
The larger your qualified email contact list, the more successful your business will become.
8. Start an eBay store
If you sell any type of good, you need to be on eBay.
Think that it’s just an auction site for used goods?
You’ve been asleep for the last decade.
In the past few years, eBay has grown up quite a bit.
Check out Best Buy’s eBay storefront. It looks just like the company’s website.
Everybody is on eBay, and it’s easy to see why.
The gross volume of merchandise sold on the site was $21.5 billion for the second quarter of 2017.
Not only will you benefit from visibility with eBay’s 171 million active monthly users, but you’ll also gain access to a suite of tools from the eBay Partner Network.