Recently, I was asked to write an article as part of the Practice Management Newsletter for the NC Bar Association. Given the current economic situation of the county and the fact that many companies are trying to find free or inexpensive ways to obtain new customers and clients, the article describes ten ways you can grow your online marketing presence without spending a penny. For the full article, follow this link to read the DIY Online Marketing article or simply read the article below.
1. Submit Your URL to Google
The first step is to go to the Google home page and search for your company website. If your site is not currently being found in Google, go to http://www.google.com/addurl/ and let Google know about your site by typing your url in the box provided and click ‘add url’.
At the bottom of www.google.com click and follow the link that says “Business Solutions”. The following screen will give you a number of different Google Business Solutions to choose from including the local business listings and analytics tool we are recommending below.
2. Google Local Business Listing
Find the solution that says “Local Business Center” and click the link. In the “Local Business Center” you will setup your Google Local Business Listing which will show up in the search results and Google Maps area. Prior to setting up your account go to http://maps.google.com and check if your business is already listed. If your business is already listed the comment bubble over your business will have an option to “Edit” the listing. Check your listing for accuracy and if you find errors correct the information from the edit page.
If your business has not been claimed yet you will see the option to “Claim Your Business” in place of “Edit”. Follow the “Claim Your Business” link and login with your Google Account or you can create one. If you don’t already have a Google Account for your business I would recommend setting one up. Follow the instructions and add your company information, pictures, coupons, services and hours of operation along with any other useful information. Once completed, Google will ask permission to call the business phone number at which time they will provide you with a number to enter into the Google confirmation page. Your company is now listed in Google for your local area.
3. Google Analytics
Measuring website traffic, understanding visitor behavior, tracking “contact us” form completions as conversions and various other metrics can all be analyzed by installing Google’s free Analytics tool. Begin by visiting www.google.com/analytics/ and either signing up for a new Google Account or logging in using your existing Google Account information. Follow the steps and create your account, configure your profile and generate your tracking script that you will place into your website. To place the tracking script into your website, copy the code and paste it into each page of the site you want to track immediately before the closing body tag (</body>). If you use a common include file or template, you can place the code there to track every page of our site.
Google provides a “Help” link in the resources section of Google Analytics with detailed instruction on how to complete these steps. Once this has been completed you will have access to detailed site statistics enabling you to understand which pages of the site are generating the most interest, which sites or advertising are driving traffic to the site and much more.
4. Submit Your URL to Yahoo
Submit your website to yahoo including not only your home page but any sitemap or blog pages. First go to www.yahoo.com and scroll to the very bottom of the page and find the link that says “Submit Your Site” listed under “Yahoo! For Your Business”. On the following page click the “Submit Your Site For Free” link and then click the “Submit a Website or Webpage” and “Submit Site Feed” links. Follow the instructions on both links to notify yahoo of your website and to submit your site feeds.
5. Yahoo Local Business Listing for Free
In order to list your company in the Yahoo! Local Business Listings, go to http://listings.local.yahoo.com. Click the “Find Out More” button in the “Basic Listing” section. On the following page click the “Sign Up Now” link and complete your business profile. Your company, address, phone number and website will now be listed in the Yahoo! Local Directory.
6. Submit Your URL to Bing
If your website is not showing up in Bing.com, visit http://www.bing.com/docs/submit.aspx and submit your website URL and make sure they know your website is out on the web.
7. Bing Local Business Listing
Let Bing and Bing.com users know about the location of your firm, your phone number and other useful information for free. Visit https://ssl.bing.com/listings/ListingCenter.aspx and click the button that says “Add New Listing”. Follow the setup instructions and you’re now listed in the Bing.com local business center.
Linked-In, Facebook and Twitter
Social networking and adding company profiles to Linked-In, Facebook and Twitter can be a rewarding avenue for firms who are willing to keep their information up-to-date and provide useful, relevant content. All three sites can be used effectively to drive traffic to your website by posting links to new blog posts or other information you post on your firms’ website. Begin by adding your company and/or personal profile to each of the sites mentioned and then invite friends, family, colleagues and even old classmates to become connections/fans/followers of your company.
8. Linked-In Setup
Setting up a new Linked-in account is fairly straightforward. Go to www.linkedin.com, add your profile information and begin making connections with people you know. Take the time to fill out your profile completely, focus on your experience and strengths, have your connections provide referrals on your profile and don’t forget to add your picture and firm logo.
9. Facebook Setup
To setup a Facebook company page, go to www.facebook.com and click the link below the sign-up form that says “Create a Page for a celebrity, band or business”. Follow the setup instructions and again be thorough in adding information, links and other business information to your page. Ask all colleagues in your firm to become a “fan” of your page and help you spread the word and generate additional fans. You can add updates to your firm profile highlighting interesting news events, new blog posts or any other information you would like to share with your “fan” base. It’s a great way to spread the news about your firm, stay top-of-mind with potential future clients and provide your “fans” with useful information related to your area of expertise.
10. Twitter Setup
Twitter is probably the simplest of the three social networking sites I’m recommending. Signup is very simple and begins by visiting www.twitter.com. Click the signup button and follow the instructions to setup your account. Add your company information, customize your background image with your company logo and begin “tweeting”. As with the other sites, look for friends, family and colleagues and invite them to follow you on Twitter.
The primary piece of advice for your firm regarding social networking sites is to always keep it professional. By keeping your profile information and updates exclusively related to legal topics and law you should avoid potential problems associated with personal issues. Another way to increase the number of connections/fans/followers is to add links to your social networking sites on your website, in the signature section of your email, and on promotional items and print materials.