13 Free Ways To Promote Your Business
Having trouble finding the right tactics to promote your business?
Here is a list of tactics we used at Ahrefs to grow + 65% year over year. Most of them are free. You can also use them to promote your business.
- Get registered in popular directories
- Blog regularly
- Create YouTube videos
- Reuse your content on multiple channels
- Create an email list
- Do a giveaway
- Get featured in podcasts
- Write guest posts
- Partner with other relevant companies
- Have your product checked
- Create a comparison page
- Speak at events
- "Jab ”on social media
1. Get registered in popular directories
Google isn't the only way to find businesses online. Many people prefer to search trusted business directories.
For example, you can use TripAdvisor to find a local restaurant, Avvo to find a lawyer, or HomeAdvisor to find a plumber. Many people use these websites directly, but they also have a high ranking on Google for local search queries.
Being on these sites is essential for people to discover your business and most of them offer profiles for free.
But how do you like them?
One method is to search Google for "(type of business) near me". Look for directories in the search results.
Another method is to use Ahrefs' Link Intersect. Link Intersect shows you who is linked to multiple competitors, but not you. This can help create directories where your competitors are already listed and you are not.
To do this, enter some of your competitors' homepages in Link Intersect.
Then click on "Show Link Opportunities".
Search the list and see if there are any directories. For example, this website looks like it is a directory and it also links to the websites of all three competitors.
If you have a coffee shop in the United Kingdomand they are not listed here. You should correct this.
The Ahrefs blog receives ~ 397,000 search visits a month.
Remember, this is traffic just from Google. Include other channels and we'll get a lot more.
At any given time there are only so many people ready and willing to buy. If you only target them, you are missing out on a huge chunk of your market. However, blogging can help you accomplish the rest that isn't ready to buy today.
For example, we rank # 1 for "blogger reach".
People who search for it know they have a problem: They want to reach out to influential bloggers, but they don't know how. However, they are not aware of our business or do not know how our toolset can help. After all, if they had done that, they would have looked directly for our brand.
By ranking terms like these on blog posts, we can grow our business by explaining how searchers can use Ahrefs to solve the problem they are facing. And that's exactly what we're doing in this post.
There are two ingredients to creating a successful business blog. You need to target topics that have:
- Search traffic potential. People search for these topics on google.
- Business potential. The theme enables you to present your product or service.
The easiest way to find topics with search traffic potential is to use a free keyword research tool like Keyword Generator. Enter a relevant keyword and up to 150 topics will be displayed.
Look at the list and organize it by business potential. Here is the diagram we use at Ahrefs:
Recommended literature: What is SEO Content? How to write content that ranks
Written content isn't the only type of content you can create. There is also video content. YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world (excluding Google Images).
Since 2018 we have devoted many resources to creating YouTube content. And it paid off tremendously. Today we have ~ 217,000 subscribers and receiving ~ 500,000 views per month.
It has also brought us tons of customers.
For video marketing, follow the same content marketing strategy that you used for blogging – target video topics that contain both Search traffic and business potential.
You can find YouTube topics using a keyword research tool like YouTube Keyword Tool. Similarly, type in a relevant keyword and you'll see 150 different topics that you could potentially be targeting.
Look through the list, write down relevant topics, and organize them by business potential.
4. Reuse your content on multiple channels
You don't always have to create content from scratch. Turn content created in one format (e.g. YouTube video) into another (blog post).
For example, our affiliate marketing video received over 74,000 views:
We turned it into an article that gets ~ 34,000 search visits per month:
We even managed to fill two positions in the SERPs and generate more passive organic traffic over time:
Content is no longer just content. It's more than that. And it's not just about video-to-text either. You can:
Think of it like a pyramid. Start with one version and then gradually break it down into smaller versions for other channels.
Every week we send a newsletter to around 120,000 people with all the content that we published that week.
These are not 120,000 random people. It's people who specifically told us that they wanted our content.
Our secret? We have created an email list.
If you build an email list, you own the communication channel. You can communicate with your fans whenever you want. You can send offers, content, etc. – anything you want.
How do you build an email list?
The easiest thing to do is to offer something in return for the subscription. At Ahrefs, we keep it simple by offering to deliver more of the content they enjoyed straight to their inbox.
You can be a little more "aggressive" by offering a "carrot" – maybe one PDF the post office or a free e-mail course.
When done well, freebies work. It will promote your business, increase brand awareness, and even build your email list.
The key phrase here: "If done well."
I say this because a lot of companies run giveaways without a strategy. They're just giving away the biggest prize they can imagine – a MacBook Pro, iPhone, or even a Tesla car. Yes, it gets a lot of attention. In the end, however, you also attract all tire kickers, giveaway seekers and everyone under the sun.
This is Not the point of the giveaway. The goal is not to run the greatest giveaway in the world. It's about attracting people who are relevant to your business.
That means you have to give away something that your target audience wants. The most direct thing is to give away the product you are selling as a gift. For example, at Ahrefs we always gave freebies when we sponsored a podcast.
We no longer make product giveaways.
However, if you're a new business or have a new product that nobody knows about, it might not be an attractive price tag. In that case, you can work with a company that targets a similar audience but doesn't compete with you.
For example, a few years ago I worked for a startup where we sold a completely new product: a massage jacket. We only had one working prototype, so giving away our product was not an option. Since our target group were people with back pain, we teamed up with a similar company and gave their product as a prize.
In return, we did everything else – set up the giveaway, advertised it, and shared the email list with the sponsor.
Once you've decided on a suitable price, you can set up the giveaway using a free app like KingSumo.
7. Be featured in podcasts
There are currently thousands of podcasts out there. There's probably one in your industry too. And they are looking for guests.
So, be that guest.
You can find podcasts by searching Google for “podcasts (your niche)”. However, you may find that most of the suggestions are established podcasts – likely difficult to understand if you're new to the circuit.
An alternative option would be to find someone in your industry who has featured on a lot of podcasts. For example, if you're selling a voice app, Steve Kaufmann is one such person.
Enter its website into Ahrefs' Site Explorer and go to Backlinks Report and look for its name in the Include box. Set the search for "only titles of referring pages".
You'll see a list of the places he's featured in podcasts.
Search the list and see if there are any podcasting opportunities. Then contact the host and pose as a guest.
Recommended literature: 12 lessons learned from 20+ podcast interviews in 4 months
Guest blogging is when you create content for another blog.
Why do you want to do this Simple. When you write for another site, you get in touch with their audience. You can also link back to your content. Interested people can click through and send you recommendation data. And since links are an important ranking factor, they can help improve your own pages on Google.
First, find websites that are currently accepting guest posts. You can do this by using some advanced search operators in Google:
- (your_topic) "write for us"
- (your_topic) "Guest Post"
- (your_topic) "Guest Article"
- (your_topic) "become an author"
- (your_topic) inurl: contribute
While this is a good start, you shouldn't limit yourself to just these tactics. There are many blogs that accept guest posts but don't actively seek them. However, if they have already posted on specific topics, there is a high chance that they will be interested in a guest post on a similar topic.
You can find these websites with the Content Explorer. Content Explorer is a mini search engine in Ahrefs. It's backed by our five billion page database and you can use it to find mentions of anything on the web.
Start typing a relevant word or phrase in the Content Explorer. Just set it to do a search on the title.
Then check the "One article per domain" box to avoid contacting the same websites twice.
Checking the "Exclude homepages" check box will remove non-blog posts from the results.
You can also narrow the list down by focusing on blogs that are “on your level”. Set the Domain Rating filter to ~ 21-70 to find these sites.
Recommended literature: Guest blogging for SEO: How to Create High Quality Links on a Large Scale
9. Collaborate with other relevant companies
Quick question: What do guest blogging and appearing on podcasts have in common?
The answer: opening up the target groups of other companies.
If you're a new or small business, you don't have an audience of your own. But others do. So if you can offer them some perks – like free, high quality content for guest blogging – you can target their audience and drive traffic to your website.
For example, we worked with Buffer, a social media planning tool, on a webinar entitled “How to Get Evergreen Website Traffic and Social Media Marketing”.
Neither tool competed with each other. But we both addressed the same audience – a perfect addition to the collaboration.
Here's the takeaway: look for opportunities to partner with companies that serve the same audience but solve a different problem.
10. Have your product checked
When we launched our massage jacket at Kickstarter a few years ago, we achieved 200% more than our financial target. The biggest factor was a lot of well-deserved media mentions.
How did we do that? It's simple: we sent our jackets to journalists and influencers. They then checked it out and wrote an article about our product. We landed on popular tech websites like Engadget.
More recently at Ahrefs we launched the Ahrefs Webmaster Tools. Similarly, we previewed journalists that got us mentions in the Search Engine Journal and Tech Radar.
How do you find out who to send products to for review?
The easiest way is to find out who has reviewed or featured similar products to you, and then offer your product for testing.
Brainstorm 2-3 competing companies. Then enter your brands into Ahrefs' Content Explorer. For example, if you were a mattress company, potential competitors would be Eight Sleep, Casper, and Purple.
You will see tons of pages mentioning these companies.
Then click the Highlight Unlinked Domains filter and add your domain. This will show you websites that are not currently associated with you.
Export the list, get in touch and try to mention your company along with your competitors.
11. Create a comparison page
Like it or not, your customers will compare. After all, they always want the biggest bang for their buck. Why should they choose you over your competitors?
To answer this question, you can create a comparison page that compares the pros and cons between your company and a competitor.
To find out who your customers are comparing you to, enter your brand name in Ahrefs' Keyword Explorer and go to the Phrase Match report.
In the "Terms" column, look for words that mean customers are comparing. For example, "vs" is a term that tells us that customers compare Mailchimp to something else. Click on that and you'll see a list of different "vs" searches. These are the companies that your customers compare you to.
At this point, most companies create a comparison page where they win in each category. But as famous advertising man David Ogilvy once said: “The customer is not an idiot. She is your wife "Your customers will see through your bluff and your prejudices. They know that it is not possible to win in every feature set. It will only undermine their trust in you.
Instead, take the opportunity to be open about some shortcomings. Again, as David Ogilvy quipped in his book Ogilvy on Advertising:
“Tell your prospect what your weaknesses are before they notice them. This makes you more believable when you boast about your strengths. "
For our comparison page, we decided to use the ratings from neutral rating sites instead of a direct comparison.
As you can see, we weren't the top-rated on every platform. But we totally agree with that.
I don't have tens of thousands of followers on Twitter. I wasn't featured on Forbes. I am also not part of the 30 under 30 year olds. Basically, I'm not someone in the digital marketing industry.
Still, I spoke at events like Digital Marketing Skill Share in Bali.
Regardless of what industry you are in, there are events where you can be invited to share your expertise. This doesn't have to be a Tony Robbins event where you speak in front of 10,000 people. Local events in front of 50 people are great for many businesses.
Most importantly, it gets customers.
In today's situation, understandably, personal events are out of the question. Even so, there are many online summits, lectures, etc. that you can be invited to speak to.
In fact, I recently hosted an online expert exchange session with RevoU, an Indonesia-based online academy.
13. "Jab" on social media
Most companies get social media wrong, according to social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk. They go on a platform like Instagram and only publish content for self-promotion (Gary calls these "real hooks").
Instead, they should engage with their audience first and connect with them (“jab”) and only make the “right hook” at the right time. Businesses should do more "jabs" – provide valuable and helpful content in advance of selling.
For example, if you're a local restaurant, you can get one IGTV Write how to recreate your famous carbonara. Compared to a typical "Come down for a delicious Italian meal today!" Would the video be more likely to be shared and reach people who didn't even know your restaurant existed.
Worried about customers learning your recipe and may never come back to visit? Don't fret. Famous chefs are constantly sharing their recipes. You could theoretically cook anything Gordon Ramsay created, but you will still be visiting one of his restaurants.
At Ahrefs, we try to create as much “jab” content as possible. We are active on Twitter and post frequently SEO and tips for digital marketing without links:
Use the Problem-Agitate-Solve (PAS) Formula to write a kick-ass blog post intro.
This is how it works:
1. Identify a problem
2. Agitate this problem by immersing yourself in its pain
3. Promise a solution pic.twitter.com/8lwj80W1HA
– Ahrefs (@ahrefs) May 13, 2020
We also do this on LinkedIn:
The best part? These "bumps" are not created from scratch. They are reused from our existing content. There is no waste. Every piece of content we produce goes the extra mile for us.
Most of the above tactics are free. But don't forget: if you have the budget, you can always buy paid traffic from Google, Facebook, etc.
This is usually the fastest way to get started and see results.
Do you have any questions or tactics that I missed? Let me know on Twitter.