When it comes to marketing your business online, many small businesses have no idea where to start. Chances are, they have heard of SEO, PPC, Social Media, etc, but it's confusing and they just don't have the time to learn how to do it. My post today is to show small business how to start marketing their business online for under five dollars per month and it all revolves around blogging.
Blogging is an amazing way for any business, large or small, to start to generate some visibility online. Take SEOmoz for example, although the roots of the company go way back to 1981 when Rand's mother started a marketing business, SEOmoz got it's start in 2004 when Rand started blogging about his "thoughts, struggles, and discoveries" in SEO. From there they started doing SEO consulting, then eventually transitioned into one of the greatest SEO toolsets you can find online. You too can get your start online just by starting a blog and writing/publishing great content on a regular basis. The whole process starts with picking a domain name, so let's jump in.
Picking Your Domain Name
Picking your domain name should be pretty easy if you have already decided on your business name. I say "should" because if you are picking a domain name that is in line with your business name, you have pretty good chances that it is going to be available. I"m often asked the question, should I purchase a domain name that is rich with my target keywords? To be completely honest, three years ago, I would have answered heck yes! Today, not so much. I would pick a domain name that is one, easy to remember, and two, is brandable. So what's the cost of a domain name? About $11.00 per year. Not too shabby.
Monthly Cost: $0.89
Finding A Web Host
Picking your web host is a little more difficult than picking a domain name, at least I think so. There are so many web hosts our there to choose from that it is hard to know which one is the best. I'm really scared to start listing web hosts in this post because there's always going to be someone who has had a bad experience and will most likely comment negatively. Personally, I really like Host Monster, but it is a little more expensive if you are on a budget. If you are looking for a cheap web host, I would go with Name Cheap hosting. I've use them before, and they are pretty good for the price. Regardless of price, you will want to find a host that uses cPanel and has one click install for WordPress to keep things as simple as possible. Hosting through Name Cheap will cost you about $48.00 per year. Also, not to shabby.
Monthly Cost: $3.95
As I mentioned above, you will want to find a web host that offers a one click install for WordPress. I'm not the most technical person in the world and I'll bet that most small business owners are not either, so this makes it really easy. The beautiful thing about using WordPress to run your blog is that is is FREE! No cost to you whatsoever! They also offer a huge support community to help you with any problems you might encounter along the way.
Monthly Cost: Free
Installing Your SEO & Social Plugins
WordPress out of the box is pretty SEO friendly, but there is always more you can do to make it more friendly to the search engines, especially for small businesses trying to do SEO. I'm not going to go into great detail about what plugins you should be installing to help you SEO or to make your blog more social because some of my colleagues have already written about it in previous posts. So, check out the linked posts below to get a better idea of which plugins you can install to get you going. One thing to keep in mind is that not all WordPress plugins are free, but most are. All of the plugins recommended in the posts below are free to the end user.
Monthly Cost: Free
Picking A Theme
Just like plugins, there are many themes out there on the internet that are free. Honestly, a lot of the themes out there are pure crap, which is why I always purchase themes or have them built for me, but if you are on a budget, you can find a good theme or two by doing some research. If you don't want to go the free route, you can check out WooThemes.com or StudioPress.com. I've used both and like them a lot. If you are going to go the free route, here are a few resources to help you get started.
Monthly Cost: Free
Writing Your Content
Now that you have your domain, have a functioning blog that is pretty and optimized for the search engines, you need to start writing content. Obviously, the cost of writing your content is free, but it does take some time. When writing, make sure that you are including keywords that are being searched on by your potential customers. You can do some quick keyword research by heading over to The Google and simply start typing your target keywords in the search bar, for this example, I used they keyword wedding dresses.
As you can see in the image below, Google's auto complete feature gives me some related searches to my keyword. If I sold wedding dresses online, I could blog about modest wedding dresses and make sure to use that keyword in the title of the post and throughout the content.
In my next image below, we are going to be looking at Google's related searches feature. This can be accessed by clicking on related searches in the left sidebar. This gives me even more topic/keyword ideas to write about than auto complete. I could also write about designer wedding dresses, wedding dresses perfect for beach weddings, and many others also making sure to include the target keywords in the appropriate places mentioned above.
Monthly Cost: Free
As you can see, it is really easy (and affordable) to start building your online business through starting a blog. In my next post (probably next month), I'm going to talk about easy and affordable ways to start building links and driving traffic to your blog once you start pounding out some content. If you have any other additional resources that relate to this post, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.