A fox in the snow

Hywel Thomas /

July 5, 2018

10 free ways to promote your website for UK small businesses

A new website will never be seen unless you help, here's a few ideas to get you started.

ou've spent time and money on a sparkling new website and then...nothing happens. It's a situation I see time and time again; the expectation that having a website will automatically find you customers.

It won't.

The search engines look at each website and make hundreds of decisions as to whether they should be included in the search results and where. Page 1 or page 56? If you have a new site, then the chances are it'll be more the latter.

This may sound unfair, after all, you worked hard on that site, you are good at your job, but still no-one calls. The reason is simple; if search engines lead to small, irrelevant site when you typed in a search term - you wouldn't use them!

All search engines work hard to produce the best result for your search and that includes metrics like website age, number of pages, search term relevance, speed and hundreds more. If you want to get your site noticed then you can advertise it (see our article on Google Ads), but before you do that you should set aside a couple of hours and do some basic marketing.

1. Create a sitemap

If you don't already have one, it's worth creating a sitemap for your site. This is a small file which tells the search engines how your website is structured.
Depending on how you produced your website, this can be done in a number of ways.
First check whether the system you used to produce your website automatically creates - and updates - a sitemap. If it does, then job done.
If not, simply find a sitemap generator, type in your website address and upload the sitemap file to your server.
Make sure the sitemap is updated when you change your site.

2. Tell Google about your website

Google checks all websites, whether you tell them about it or not, but it makes good sense to nudge them along - especially as it's only 10 minutes work and also provides valuable information for you on the workings of your site.

  • If you haven't got one get yourself a Google account - even if you have a personal one used mainly for Gmail - create a new 'business' account.
    To do this, go to Google (sign out of an account if you already logged in to your personal account) and click on Sign In, then Create Account.
  • Go to Google Webmaster Tools. (GWT)
  • Go to the Search Console and add a property.
  • As part of the process, you will be asked to verify that you have control over the website. This is done in a number of ways - select which is best for you.
  • On the left menu click Crawl/Sitemap and tell Google the name of your sitemap - as created above.
  • Next select Crawl/Fetch as Google and enter the name of your website.
  • Click Fetch.
  • That's all you have to do right now, but log into GWT and do a Fetch when you have a moment.

3. Tell Bing and Yandex about your website

You need to tell other search engines about the existence of your site and I would recommend you add these two .
Bing is the Microsoft search engine which includes Yahoo search and Yandex is a Russian engine which also provides search facilities to other search engines like DuckDuckGo.
Both employ slightly different ways to verify your website and update it, but essentially you need to get yourself an account and carry out the same procedures as with Google above.

4. Put Google Analytics on your site

Two reasons to do this:

  • Analytics provides a lot of information on who is visiting your site and what they do when they are there.
  • The industry believes Google rate sites with Analytics slightly higher in the results.

Pop along to Analytics and sign in with your business Google account.
Once in, click on Admin then, in the left hand column - create an account. This is the top-level setting and refers to you, not your website. Once the account is set up, go back to Admin and click Create a Property in the middle column, the wizard is fairly straightforward to follow, it is here you tell Analytics about your website and download the code it needs to analyse activity. Copy the tracking code.
Next paste the code into your website - or email it to your web designer - he will paste it onto all your pages.
After that, you can log in any time you like to check on your visitors. (Here's a nice little beginner's guide. Thanks, Paola)

5. Add your profile to industry-related directories

There are dozens of industry directories represented on the internet; you may already know those which pertain to your speciality.
Add your profile to all of them! (And don't pay for anything - you can decide later if you think it's worthwhile getting a 'premium' position.)

6. Add your profile to other major directories

Companies like Yell, Thomson, Cylex, Yelp and Freeindex are also worth your time.

Yell graphic - referring website

The trick to find the best ones for you is to go to Google and type in what visitors might enter to find your business. Any directories that come up in the first five - they could be local, industry-related or general - are worth entering your profile into.
Don't forget, just because it came up on page 5 for you, doesn't mean the same thing will happen with your potential customers.
Again, don't pay for a premium position - yet.

7. Add your profile to other major directories

The trick to find the best ones for you is to go to Google and type in what visitors might enter to find your business. Any directories that come up in the first five - they could be local, industry-related or general - are worth entering your profile into.
Don't forget, just because it came up on page 5 for you, doesn't mean the same thing will happen with your potential customers.
Again, don't pay for a premium position - yet.

8. Add your profile to Google My Business

This is (IMHO) one of the best things you can do to push your business - especially if your customers are local to you. It's a pain to set everything up, but well worth it in the end
Pop along to the website and sign in using the same Google account you set up above and fill in all of your details.
Google will want to verify that you have control over the business and they will either send a card to your address or use the phone number to do the same thing.

9. Ask your customers for reviews

There are many places customers can leave reviews, however, pragmatically, they are unlikely to go to multiple sites to do it. To start with, I would recommend Google reviews. It works for me - coming top of the results below one paid ad:

The easiest way to garner reviews is to verify your account with Google - above - then search for your listing by typing the name into search. (This won't work straight away, so give it a few days before your business comes up)
Once it appears, click Write a Review, then copy the url (the website address). You can then email the link to your customers.
They will need to sign into Google as part of the process.

10. Create two social media pages

I know, I know, the last thing you wanted to hear, but bear with me. In the great battle for your time, how far up does developing a social media platform come? Pretty low down huh?
OK, here's a compromise, let's just grab the top two, at least the top two at the moment:

  • Facebook. This company lost a lot of users over the past few years, what with privacy concerns, the Cambridge Analytica scandal and millennials getting tired of their parents comments (!) but it is still a company with massive reach. Not only can you create a business page, but you also join local groups and sell your services there. The fact that you can create a business page in five minutes is also a reason to spend a very small proportion of your life setting one up. Here's how to do it.
  • Instagram. Instagram and Pinterest are both worth considering and although Pinterest has seen fewer visitors recently, it is beloved by its followers - especially if your product is photogenic. Choose the best one for you or use both.

You may want to consider others if you feel the urge:
LinkedIn. Great if you want to sell your skills to other business users.
Twitter. Overrated in my opinion, but worth a punt - easy set up.

Finally, make sure your site is SSL/TLS compliant. In 2018 Google starting referring to non-secure websites as 'Not Secure' and, almost certainly, marks down the site.

You can buy an SSL licence from most hosting companies - or get them free if you host with Zigger!

Hywel Thomas web designer

Author: Hywel Thomas
Web Design and Google Ads person
Email: hi@zigger.co.uk
Tel: 07875 096483