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How to Promote Your Small Business on the Internet (Almost) For Free

Wondering how to advertise your small business online with little or no budget? Say no more. If you run a small business, every penny counts. Here are some online advertising tips and ideas that work.
  1. What Features Should Be Considered
  2. List Your Business in Online Directories
  3. Set Up a Small Website For Your Small Business
  4. Make Sure Search Engines See Your Business
  5. Create Trustworthy and Unique Content
  6. Make the Most of Social Media
  7. Online Reputation is the New Black

What Features Should Be Considered

Promoting small businesses on the Internet has characteristics that distinguish it from larger companies. Here are some points that you should consider.
  • Small and inconsistent budgets for promotion. As a rule, small businesses cannot afford to spend a fortune on advertising. It is expensive, and revenue is not always stable to sustain a long-term marketing strategy.
  • There is no need to use traditional promotion channels. First, the prices for advertising on radio, television, and larger media are too high. Second, the target audiences for small businesses are often the residents of a particular neighborhood or area. Therefore, it makes sense to advertise your business locally rather than globally.
  • A narrow range of target audiences. As mentioned earlier, small business customers are usually limited to a small location or area. Therefore, promotions that «hit» a wide crowd at once are not appropriate.

List Your Business in Online Directories

Online directories make people in your area aware of your business. They are an indispensable tool for advertising on a shoestring budget, or no budget at all because they are free. That's why it's a good idea to list your business in online directories that are popular in your area. Here are some examples.

Google My Business

By listing your business on Google My Business, you kill two birds with one stone. The information about your business can be found in the Google search engine as well as in Google Maps. To create your business' page on Google My Business, you need to add details such as address, contact number, opening hours, useful links, etc. With the map of your business in this directory, your potential customers can find and contact you.
Google My Business is one of the largest and best-known business directories online. The information about your business can be found in the Google search engine as well as in Google Maps.


Tripadvisor is another great marketing tool to promote your small business. It is an online travel community where users can rate the places they visit. Their ratings and comments are incorporated into an overall rating of the business. Tripadvisor is active in almost 50 markets and available in 28 languages.
Every month, many travelers turn to Tripadvisor to find the best hotels, transportation, restaurants, and travel experiences to plan their vacations. You can list your business on Tripadvisor for free and also use some paid promotion features.
The better users rate your business on Tripadvisor, the greater the chance that it will be listed among the best in your area.


Nicelocal is a referral service that allows users to find, compare and select organizations. Most likely, your business is already registered with Nicelocal, so all you have to do is access the site. You will then be able to manage all your company's data and respond to customer reviews.
On Nicelocal, users will find all the necessary information about the company: Address, phone number, opening hours, prices, photos, examples of work, current promotions, descriptions of specialists, and links to groups on social networks. Besides, Nicelocal has reviews about the company.
Nicelocal has a ticker that shows users that the information on the page is trustworthy. Adding a business to Nicelocal is free of charge. In addition, the referral service allows advertising the business on the Internet for a fee.
Nicelocal is a great tool to promote your small business locally. Users can see your company on a map, read reviews and contact you to book a service. Listing your business on Nicelocal is free.

Get Your Small Business a Website

Some say that creating a website for a small business is completely off the table. Why bother creating a website when you can create a page on Instagram or use marketplaces? Other «cons» cited are the high cost and the constant need for maintenance.
Internet «opponents» will add that their business is focused on real life. But let's face it, by 2021, 96% of Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 will be using the Internet. At least 75% of people in the 65+ age group also consider themselves Internet users. This means that a large portion of your potential clientele lives and searches for information online. Let's give them more ways to find you.
Here are some benefits of having a website for your small business:
  • Your business' website doesn't have to be elaborate, expensive, or technically complicated. With Medium, WordPress, and other website-building platforms, you can manage a website effortlessly. These platforms offer online tutorials and community support, so almost anyone can learn the basics of management;
  • It's your company's business card on the Internet and a way to convey personality and values;
  • It provides you with a 24/7 online office that works even when you sleep. Customers can access detailed and up-to-date information at any time, from anywhere in the world. If you respect your customers' time, it's a plus for your business;
  • A great tool for interacting with customers. A simple real-time chat feature can help communicate with customers and answer their questions. With a blog you can inform your audience about the latest offers, products, and promotions;
  • It helps build customer loyalty. Your efforts to create and maintain a website convey a message of trust. «This is me, this is my business, I'm reliable and I'm not going anywhere».
No need to create a technically complex and expensive website. On the Internet there are many tools for beginners that help to create a simple and functional webpage.

Make Sure Search Engines See Your Business

You have probably heard of search engine optimization or SEO. This is a set of practices that ensure your website ranks better in search engine results. The more search engine friendly your company's website is, the better it works to promote your business to Google. When SEO settings work, people searching for a specific product will find what your business has to offer.
SEO especially helps with online advertising for your business, as organic search is the main source of website traffic. It can also increase sales and boost your brand's visibility.
Optimizing your business' website for search engines may require an investment. But it is a contribution to a long-term marketing strategy. Plus, there are plenty of free SEO optimization courses and guides you can take advantage of.

Create Trustworthy and Unique Content

Content is the fuel for marketing your small business. The more unique and high-quality it is, the better. Your content should be informative, engaging, and entertaining. Good content helps promote your business on search engines and social media.
Choose what's right for you:
  • Blog posts and news stories;
  • Videos and reels;
  • Infographics;
  • Images and memes;
  • Reviews;
  • Surveys.
You do not have to pay a special person to create content for you. No one knows your business better, so you can do this job perfectly. Talk about what's going on in your industry, report on the inner workings of your business, give tips and share your expert opinion.
When it comes to content creation, there are only two basic rules: be yourself and post frequently. Your customers love authenticity and consistency. Creating high-quality content is not time-consuming because you can reuse content across all your platforms.

Make the Most of Social Media

Social media have two major advantages: they're free and accessible to everyone. According to statistics, the average Internet user worldwide spends about 2.5 hours on social media every day. That sounds like a lot of potential customers who don't know about you yet.
That's why it's important to harness the power of social media to promote your business:
  • The numbers speak volumes. More than half of all consumers learn about new brands through social media. 78% of customers are happy to buy from a company after having a positive experience on social media;
  • You can create a free business profile and be present on all popular platforms — with almost no marketing costs;
  • An aesthetically pleasing and informative social media profile can be a showcase for your business;
  • Being active on social media can instantly connect your business with potential customers. You can communicate directly with your audience and respond to their inquiries in real-time.
  • The presence of the company on social networks helps to better process feedback and strengthen the credibility of the brand.
When it comes to social media, prioritize quality over quantity. Don't try to set up profiles on all social networks and bore your followers with mediocre content. Understand who your main audience is and where they can be found. Choose the main social channel that best suits you and develop a communication strategy.
On social media, you can run locally targeted ads even on a small budget. This way you can experiment and find out which advertising campaigns resonate best with your audience.

Online Reputation is the New Black

Read more about why fake reviews don't work in this article: Why Fake Reviews Never Work and How to Get Real Ones
Reviews are the modern word of mouth. When your reviews grow, so does your business. Customers are more likely to choose the company with the most reviews when choosing between two companies. That's why it's important to take care of your company's reputation and build it over time.
How can you work on your online reputation?
  • Soliciting comments and reviews is a valuable way to find out that something is going wrong and fix it immediately. It also makes your customers feel listened to and valued. Try to respond quickly and take the time to collect reviews from your customers.
  • By providing impeccable customer service and standing by your mistakes
  • With customer reviews, both bad and good
Soliciting comments and reviews is a valuable way to find out that something is going wrong and fix it immediately. It also makes your customers feel listened to and valued. Try to respond quickly and take the time to collect reviews from your customers.
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