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Most businesses have a limited advertising budget and want to use this budget to reach the largest audience possible. Using the Internet for free web advertising can be a great way for businesses to reach more potential customers without exhausting their advertising budget. There are many ways to advertise a business for free on the web.
The Internet has the ability to reach a worldwide audience of potential customers, or more customers in a particular region, and most businesses today try to capitalize on the abilities of web advertising. Though there are many paid advertising opportunities online, businesses should not overlook the possibilities of free web advertising. Even a small investment of time can allow a business to take advantage of free web advertising.
Businesses who want to use the web for free advertising should understand the concept of Web 2.0. The idea behind Web 2.0 is that the Internet is now much more interactive than it was just a few years ago. Potential customers use the web to interact, share information, and participate in online communities. Though a static web page can still be used as a form of free or low cost web advertising, there are many ways for businesses to expand on that idea to get the most out of Web 2.0 for free web advertising.
Some suggestions for free web advertising and making the most of the Internet:
- Have an interesting, user-friendly web site. A business doesn't need to sell products online to benefit from a web site giving information about their business, like location, hours, and products and services offered. There are many free web hosting services or low cost options for developing a good web site that even provide easy templates for you to create your web site. A good web site is simple, clear, and easy for potential customers to understand, and has fresh content updated from time to time, like sales or new inventory information. Avoid lots of very bright or very dark colors or flashing pictures or words, which will often drive customers away.
- Once you have a good web site, make sure people will see it. This means registering it with the major search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and MSN, as well as relevant online directories, including those of local businesses in your area. Registering with the major search engines is free. When you choose your related search terms, be fairly specific so your store will come up high in customer searches, and try to think of what your potential customers might be searching for. For instance, if you run a florist shop in Wisconsin that specializes in weddings, use terms like "Wisconsin wedding flowers" instead of just "flowers". Make sure these keywords are also in the text of your web site and in your web site's meta data if possible.
- Another way to get your web site noticed is to link your web site with those of related businesses. For instance, a lawn maintenance company could post links to the web sites of the nurseries and hardware stores they often do business with in exchange for those businesses posting a link back to their web site.
- Create a blog. A blog, or web log, like Wordpress software is a free web page that allows you to share your knowledge and advertise your business for free. For instance, a health food store could have a blog with healthy recipes using the foods sold at their store. Blogs usually allow readers to make comments, which can help create an online community of potential customers. Remember to update the blog on a regular basis, even if it's only once a week or a couple of times a month, so readers will keep coming back. Always have someone proofread your blog entry before you post it. If you are a strong writer, you may also want to try writing articles for other web sites or for electronic magazines, called ezines, to help get your name out even more. Check out some Wordpress tips for other blog marekting ideas.
- Post a video on YouTube. In addition to or instead of a blog, videos on YouTube can get the attention of potential customers, especially if the video is of good quality and the name and web site of your business are included. A music store can post a video of someone performing on one of their instruments, or an auto body shop can post tips on car care. These types of videos are more likely to get attention than a video that is just an advertisement for a business. Similarly, you can also create podcasts for potential customers to listen to.
- Use social networking sites. Facebook and Twitter accounts are another easy form of free web advertising. Use these sites to share information about your store and to allow customers to follow your business and share your information with friends. For instance, a clothing store could use social networking sites to advertise special sales, which their customers can then pass on to their friends.
- Create an email list, but do it right. Email lists should be opt-in, which means customers choose to sign up for them. The emails you send should contain relevant information, like newsletters, as well as sales information or coupons. It is easy to overdo email advertising and drive customers away, so consider sending emails no more than weekly or even monthly unless there is some exciting news to share.
- Post ads on free online classifieds. Legitimate online classifieds can be a good way to reach an audience, especially a local one. Make sure your ad is clearly worded and placed appropriately and follows all of the rules of the classified listing service.
Free web advertising can help you use the Internet to reach a larger audience of potential customers for a relatively small investment. As the Internet continues to change new opportunities to advertise your business online for free will become available, and if you are already taking advantage of the opportunities the Internet offers it will be easier for you to discover and use those new opportunities as well.