The goal of a website is to get eyeballs on it. Large corporations have plenty of resources to pour into articles, blog posts, and other content to get the attention of many potential customers, but what about small businesses?
How can you compete with a company that has 10 times your marketing budget, if not more? By using the following strategies.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make any of these work; you simply have to be clever and offer something of value to the people you are hoping to attract.
These strategies have been used by many small businesses to dramatically increase their website traffic, and there’s no reason why you can’t make use of them, as well. Let’s get right to it!
1. Write positively about other websites and businesses
You know what is one of the best compliments you can give someone on the Internet? Linking to their content or otherwise singling them out as a good example of something that others should emulate. Talk about criminally under-subscribed or underestimated content producers, mention particularly useful insights you hadn’t considered before, praise a company’s business practices like The Motley Fool did or do smething else creative to spread the word and link to others’ work.
Not only is this an ego boost to the person or company you’re linking to, but it can help you build a relationship with them and establish yourself as a savvy expert to your target audience. That’s because it shows you’re able to notice key trends and organizations that are worth exploring in greater depth.
As an added bonus, the owners of the sites you have linked to will feel flattered and likely share the content on their own social media accounts. They may even encourage their friends and associates to visit your site and do the same on social media if they are so inclined. It’s just a big cycle of positivity in which everyone wins. Just be sure you are properly attributing any ideas you get so that no one gets the impression you’re stealing someone’s intellectual property. That can undo your efforts.
2. Make lists of other bloggers and experts in your field of expertise
Creating a list of the top 10, 20, or 100 bloggers who people should pay attention to is an excellent way to build goodwill. This is a variation on the same theme as the first strategy we explored, but there are some important differences.
Rather than linking to a specific idea someone has expressed in an individual blog post, give them praise for their entire body of work and suggest your readers take a look at everything they have to offer. This gives your readers access to more information that can help them, and it might even put you on the radar of other experts and get them to return the favor and write about you in the future. Check out Hatchbuck’s article on “21 Great Small Business Blogs” as a prime example of this strategy.
Creating a list allows you to hit a lot of targets at the same time. Just one article can get retweeted and shared on other social media sites hundreds of times by the people you write about and their followers. There’s no need to link to direct competitors, but simply choose other experts who write about your industry. However, it’s not always a bad idea to talk about your competitors in a positive light, as we’ll discuss next.
3. Advertise your competitors on your website
This is going to come across as unintuitive at first, but trust us; this is a strategy that can yield surprisingly positive results. When potential customers are looking through your website and they find that your product is not exactly what they are looking for, they’ll most likely hit the road in a hurry in search of other options.
But instead of them leaving your site to do so, what if they could remain on your site and find out about those options from you? In this case, you can control the messaging that they receive, at least at first. Be as objective as possible when describing each of your competitors so you won’t come across as needlessly negative and thus destroy any semblance of credibility you had. Just give them the facts.
You don’t have to remain entirely neutral on the whole page, though. You can also give people a message encouraging them to return to your site at some future date to see if you’re a better fit for them at that time. They might just remember how helpful you were and follow your advice to come back.
4. Write on trendy topics
Not all content has to be evergreen. Many blogs and websites are focused on current events, and that’s great. People want to learn about news and developments that are affecting them right now, so finding a timely angle to approach a topic from could be an effective way to get their attention.
Write about what’s on your prospects’ minds, such as upcoming holidays. For example, Google Small Business could have simply written about nice places to shop for last-minute gifts, but they decided to include a reference to Christmas shopping because it was mid-December and that was a subject on many shoppers’ minds. Sure, it’s not applicable during other times of the year, but that doesn’t have to be the only article they publish on that topic.
They can write others about where to find the best springtime dresses, where to get the best deals on discounted winter clothes, and the most romantic restaurants and hotels to book weeks ahead of Valentine’s Day. When people are looking for content specifically geared toward those times of year, they will consider these articles even more relevant than they would have if the company had tried to only create a one-size-fits-all piece.
5. Offer specific ‘How To’ advice
You have unique insights into your field of expertise that no one else has to offer. What are some questions your customers are asking or what interesting things have you noticed about the industry or company you’re working in? Compile a list of such topics and start writing “How To” articles on them. For example, Purple wisely went after a topic right up its alley when it published an article entitled “How To Pick The Best Pillow.”
These articles can be on just about anything. A construction company or hardware store might write about how to pull a nail out of a piece of wood without a hammer. An exercise equipment seller or electrician could write about how to power a household appliance by riding an exercise bike. A popcorn producer can write about how to microwave a bag of popcorn in a way that pops all of the kernels without burning any of them. A daredevil exhibitionist could write about how to juggle axes while bouncing on a trampoline.
Whatever topic you go with, just make sure it answers a burning question your audience has or is so outlandish and tantalizing that people just have to click to find out what you’re talking about. Be careful not to get too clickbait-y; that can be a major turnoff. Just be interesting and insightful. The more specific your content, the less likely it is for competing content to already exist, so you’ll have a better chance of owning that topic.
6. Create pillar pages to organize a lot of content around a central theme
Let’s round out this list by talking about the usefulness of pillar pages. You may have noticed that as you produce lots of fresh content for a blog or other website, your older content gets pushed further and further down until it’s practically forgotten. Sure, it is still relevant to search engines and can be found through that route, but it would be nice if there was a way to keep your key content front and center. After all, you put a lot of work into creating it.
You can do that by creating pillar pages, which act as big collections of articles, videos, and other items that fall under a broad category. For example, if you have a pillar page dedicated to good grammar, you could include links to blog posts on commonly misspelled words, how to create proper editing marks, solid sentence structure, etc. All of the content linked to from the pillar page supports the main subject and offers relevant information to readers. The HubSpot article linked above has seven examples you can reference.
The pillar page itself should be more than a glorified link aggregator. It should summarize each of the topics contained in the pages it links to and offer some additional conclusions of its own so that it’s more than just the sum of its parts. Having a small number of pillar pages dedicated to subjects that your readers are most interested in is a great way to keep old content from getting lost in the shuffle while continuing to provide value.
This should, by no means, be seen as a comprehensive list of every one of the content marketing strategies that small businesses are using to boost their traffic. Feel free to experiment with them to find which ones work for you and perhaps even think further outside the box to come up with other innovative ways of reaching a wide audience.
The point is to do things that establish your brand as authoritative, respectable, and worthy of people’s time. If you do this, you’re right on the money.