When you hear the word advertising, paid methods most likely come to mind. Pay-per-click ads, affiliate marketing, hiring an SEO professional, and so on. It might surprise you to hear that not all methods of advertisement cost money — not even on Google. In this post, I’m going to cover 20 ways you can get free advertising on Google and elsewhere, both online and off.
We’ll first look at free methods of gaining exposure on Google, then on social media, and then close off with additional free tactics that can help you gain exposure both online and off.
How to Get Free Advertising on Google
With over 3.5 billion searches per day, Google is a hotspot for consumers. And with its location-specific and rich results, it is ingrained in our daily lives as the go-to tool for, well, anything — getting the weather, buying tickets, finding products, vetting services, answering quick questions, seeing if a local store is open, and the list goes on. In this section, we’ll cover some strategies your local business can implement to get on this highly trafficked search engine for free.
1. Write Useful Content
Perhaps the best form of free advertising on Google is useful content. Publish blog posts and website pages regularly that answer common questions your ideal customers are looking up, and use SEO best practices to help your pages rank higher in search results. These pages will help your business to get in front of people who don’t yet know about your business. The more times you supply the information they need, the more they will trust you, and the more likely they will be to choose you when they need a product or service.
2. Get Attributes Mentioned in Reviews
If your business offers a popular or unique amenity, make it worth writing about! In the example below, when you search on Google for “patio seating near me,” restaurants appear first whose reviews mention patio seating.
You can use this easy free advertising tactic for other features of your business such as a heated patio, same-day service, or urgent repair. Learn how to collect more Google reviews here.
3. Mention Special Features in Your Google My Business Description
Another way you can get your business some free exposure on Google is by mentioning popular amenities in your Google My Business description. You’ll see in the example below that South Street Diner shows up first on Google for “breakfast all day near me.” It’s not likely by coincidence that their description contains the term “round-the-clock.”
4. Mention Specific Features on Your Website
In addition to your Google business listing, mentioning your specific features on your website can also get you some free, first-page advertising on Google. In the example below, Miss Ricky’s shows up first in results for “Breakfast all day downtown chicago” simply because their website mentions breakfast all day:
5. Perform Local SEO
Local SEO is your tried and true route to free advertising on Google. If you place location-based keywords in the right places on your website, you can show up first in organic results for searches that include your product or service plus your location.
In the example below, ABA Appliance Repair, Inc. shows up first in the local pack of results (below Sears’ sponsored listing), and their website ranks number two in organic results, below a Yelp roundup page. Clearly, they have their website optimized to appear for “relevant search term + austin tx.”
6. List Your Business on Directories
There are many directories aside from Google My Business that appear on Google. In fact, directories like Yelp and Trip Advisor that have been around for a while are trusted by Google, and their pages often show up on the first page of Google.
For example, if you search “best tailors in portsmouth nh,” you’ll see that the first two organic results are Yelp pages listing the top 10 tailors in Portsmouth. The meta descriptions for those pages mention Erana, Terri’s Tailor Shop, Mr. Carl’s Custom Tailoring, Finesse Cleaners & Tailoring, and All Stitched Up. All five of these businesses have gotten free advertising on Google simply by having solid Yelp listings.
Other examples of free local and niche directories that can help you show up on Google include Trip Advisor, Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, and Yellowpages.
7. Publish Unique Content on Your Internal Data
What have you learned from your internal data in the past quarter, year, or more? Have you gained valuable insights on sales, marketing, finance, or human resources? If so, share what you’ve found with the intent to help others. In doing so, you will earn the trust of your readers.
A good example of this is WordStream’s industry benchmark content.
8. Submit a Blog Post to a High-Authority Site
Have you written an opinion or thought leadership piece? An industry-specific informational post? Does it pack a punch? If so, it’s worth submitting to a high-authority site with a wide audience. Be sure to pick a credible, well-known site in your industry that already gets significant exposure on Google.
In the example below, Jason Brooks, founder of Linkology UK, wrote a guest post for the WordStream blog on link-building strategies, which ranks on Google. When you click on the article, you can learn (at the end) about his company UK Linkology and even visit the site from the post. As you can see, guest blogging is a great way to get free advertising on Google through the other sites Google trusts.
9. Optimize Your Google Business Listing
There’s no better way to advertise your business on Google for free than with an optimized Google My Business listing. In fact, on average, complete Google My Business listings get 7x more clicks and are 50% more likely to lead to a purchase than empty listings.
As you can see in the example below, Red Lantern’s Knowledge Panel listing (which pulls from Google My Business) offers a wealth of information that encourages potential customers to choose them.
They have all of their contact information listed, over 450 reviews, a compelling description, the ability to reserve a table, answers in their Q&A section, events listed, and are synced up with other online ordering platforms. Potential customers can also view photos of the interior and exterior of the restaurant. You’ll also notice that their website, Yelp profile page, OpenTable page, and TripAdvisor pages are visible on Google:
10. Offer Free Consultations
If you provide a service where you can offer free consultations, trials, classes, or assessments — try it out for some free exposure on Google. Create clear calls to action on your website and create a dedicated landing page that targets “free consultation” (or whichever free service you are providing). This will help your page rank on Google for people seeking out free consults in their area. For example, these businesses appear first on Google for “free blinds consultation dallas tx:”
Other Ways to Get Free Advertising — Online & Off
Google isn’t the only place where you should seek out free ways to gain exposure. Don’t forget about the social media networks out there! And also, make use of traditional marketing strategies too. Here are some ways to gain free advertising for your business in your community, both online and off.
1. Post to Social Media
Social media platforms are free. Use Facebook to promote your informative blog posts and encourage questions and answers in comments. Use Instagram to offer short how-tos and show off your products and services. Use LinkedIn to publish thought leadership pieces and network with other businesses. You’ll get free exposure to the right audience while also driving traffic to your website and building your credibility.
2. Join & Stay Active in Online Groups
Use the forums and groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and niche sites to your advantage. You don’t have to hard-sell or constantly talk about your business (in fact, don’t do this). Simply engage in relevant conversations and offer your knowledge for free. Becoming a trusted contributor can get potential leads and partners to notice your business.
3. Partner With an Influencer
A collaboration with a respected influencer in your industry can earn you free exposure to a highly relevant audience. Have them try your product or service and review it on their website, blog, or social media. Or ask to publish a guest post on their blog. These opportunities cost nothing more than your time, and aside from giving you some free advertising, help to strengthen your network.
4. Run a Social Media Giveaway or Contest
Social media giveaways and contests generate excitement. They get people talking…or, you could say, tagging. Often, people tag friends and family who share the same interests. This could be a great way to get free business promotion. You might even require your followers to tag someone else to qualify for the prize.
5. Encourage User-Generated Content
Encouraging the submission of user-generated content is actually like getting double the advertising, as this type of content usually results not only in lots of tagging but also lots of sharing, which further increases the reach of your business. Your followers will likely share on their accounts the content they submit to you. Hence, you reach their audiences as well. Additionally, your followers may repost the user-generated content you share on your accounts. That’s a lot of free advertising!
6. Hang Flyers or Posters on Community Bulletin Boards
Do you have a community center or similar facility in your immediate area? If so, make use of the available bulletin boards. Hang eye-catching posters and flyers that increase awareness of your business. Scores of people gather at such centers for various events. You have the opportunity to grab their attention. To do this, present a message that’s highly relevant to the type of people that meet there.
7. Support Your Local Community
When you work to make a positive impact on your community, free advertising is a natural result. Being active and helpful gets your name out there, which might result in direct sales. Yet, it also improves your image. When people have a positive perception of your business, they refer others to you. Sponsor a school or sports team. Volunteer for an important cause. Run a group that adds value to your community in some way.
8. Submit a Press Release to Your Local Newspaper
Do you have interesting, newsworthy information to share? If so, don’t miss out on the opportunity to spread the news far and wide. Submit a press release to the local paper. This doesn’t usually cost you anything and will get your business in front of the eyes of more people than you’d be able to reach otherwise.
Being interviewed has an advantage. People learn more about you on the initial contact than they would in many other instances. You have the chance to truly get them excited about and emotionally invested in your business. Additionally, you can distribute your interviews in several ways. You can share them in the newspaper, as videos on your company’s YouTube channel, on blogs, on social media, and so forth. Don’t forget also that you can interview a popular or influential individual among your target audience.
10. Run a Referral Program
Whether in-store or online, referrals encourage word-of-mouth marketing, which has always been an effective form of free advertising. Offer incentives such as discounts, deals, and other perks, to the referrer or to both the referrer and referee.
Gain Free Advertising on Google & in Your Community With These 20 Strategies
Whether you’re looking to get more eyes on your business on Google, social media, or in your physical community, the strategies covered in this post can help you to achieve just that. Let’s do a quick recap to sum everything up:
- Write useful content.
- Get attributes mentioned in reviews.
- Mention special features in your Google My Business description.
- Mention specific features on your website.
- Perform local SEO.
- List your business on directories.
- Publish unique content on your internal data.
- Submit a blog post to a high-authority site.
- Optimize your Google business listing.
- Offer free consultations.
- Post to social media.
- Join and stay active in online groups.
- Partner with an influencer.
- Run a social media giveaway or contest.
- Encourage user-generated content.
- Hang flyers or posters on community bulletin boards.
- Support your local community.
- Submit a press release to your local newspaper.
- Conduct interviews.
- Run a referral program.
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