Improving your business for free part 1

There are lots of tools what claim to improve your productivity and business. I’m hoping here to point out some of the easiest ways to do so, and for the magical cost of nothing but time!

1. Get your site into Google Web-master tools!

Possibly the trickiest but once complete will give you full control over issues, analytics.  Also respond to de-listings or malware concerns easily and directly with Google.

Get your Site verified in Web-master Tools, link that to Analytics, AdWords and AdSense to handle advertising and adverts to and from your site. Simplest way to verify is to upload a file to your web server. This will handle your site being crawled by Google, saves submitting each new page to search engines. Brilliant if your site is dynamic and constantly changing.

2. Google Places /Google Plus Local page

Get your business its own Google+ page, when set-up it should link to Local section of Google Plus, and to Google Maps.

Fill it with as much information as you can, upload some pictures, treat it like a profile. As it’ll be the first thing people will see when they use Google to find your business. If set up properly it’ll show up for the keywords and services you offer independent of searches.

As I found out today, If your site is the only place what lists your opening times and where you are, chances are it’s not going to be up when someone needs you. Get that information on your Google Plus page and people can see that information without leaving the Google search results screen.

3. Freeindex it

Like Google but concentrating on putting customers to the right businesses in the right places.

Create a listing, improve the profile and get some leads from its internal search engine.  Allows customers/clients to review your services and allow your rank to climb higher.

4.  Analytics

Found out what content is popular, what’s not popular and what drives people to your site. Most Content and framework Systems will have something similar built-in but not as powerful. Easy to set up with Web-master tools and file verification on web-server.

5. Use the space on your social media / forum profiles.

Signed up to a forum for hobbies? Or a part of a business community/forum? Prime advertising space should be available on your profile page or signature. See our guide on creating a fully linked picture signature.

Be wary of each forums terms and conditions, they might not like advertising so keep it discreet/small enough not to distract people from the topics. Outright spam will earn a ban.

 6. Facebook pages

Create a Facebook page for your business, even if you don’t use Facebook. A presence helps as Facebook will be searched via Bing as well. A Facebook presence also helps with trust and easily linked by people who’ve used your service and providing your information to others via a share. Reviews and Likes are also good.

7. Word of mouth

Majority of my call-outs are people who have recommended me from earlier work. To think, I’ve only have 3 or 4 customers out of 50 who have said ‘we found you on Google’.

This might change area to area, but get yourself into community groups, meet and greets with local business groups and conferences. Business awards and expos are good even if you aren’t exhibiting.

8. Networking

Have a look around for local gatherings of businesses, your local Chamber of Trade and Commerce would be a good place to start. Also independent bodies are appearing all over the UK for networking groups.

Check Link4Growth for a friendly networking session nearby.  L4G are very friendly, relaxed and offer courses on PR, social media and a forum full of like-minded and helpful people. Also grand ideas for Coffee meets all over England (and recently Wales!). Besides, worth taking an hour or 2 off for coffee and a chat, even if it gets you some work in.

9. Business cards and flyers, Community leaflets

One of the oldies, but still works. I’d say your business card is more important, put more effort into maintaining them. A fair few ideas going about is to have QR codes on them for more contact options which can be up-datable on-line, or automatically added to phone/email from a camera picture.

I’d avoid tiny cards, go for something with space and nice size so they’ll also fit in community notice boards easily and catch attention.

That’s all for the time being, I have run out of ideas and coffee! Hopefully I can find some more tips for next week.

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