Small businesses face many of the same operating costs as their larger competitors, but often with less revenue and a smaller budget to work with. The hard truth about running a small business is that you have to do more with less if you want to survive and thrive in a highly competitive consumer marketplace. But of course, you’ll find that there are all kinds of ways to cut corners and save money when you start looking. And the online arena provides myriad opportunities in this regard. That said, you’re often looking at a time versus money scenario, and you might not have a ton of time to devote to online marketing strategies when managing your day-to-day operations is your top priority. But there are some affordable options to consider that shouldn’t take up undue time if you know what you’re doing and plan accordingly. Here are some options to consider.

The place to start is by claiming listings on directories. In some cases, you can do this for free, while other outlets will charge a moderate fee for listing with them. You’ll want to begin by looking for listings that already exist that you have not yet claimed. You may, for example, find your business listed on Yelp, Angie’s List, Google My Business, or similar sites. And if your listing goes unclaimed, you could be getting passed up by potential customers. At the very least, claiming your listing allows you to input correct contact information (phone number, address, etc.) and post a link to your website. But you can also do a lot more, sometimes for free and sometimes by paying for premium services.

Another cheap or free way to market your small business online is through ad sharing, whereby you sign up for a service that places your ad on related websites and blogs in exchange for you allowing related advertising to be placed on your site, generally as some kind of banner or pop-up. This is a great option for businesses that have limited funds for advertising. And if you have a little more cash on hand, you might want to try Google AdWords. Some research is required to ensure that you end up with appropriate keywords in order to increase conversions, but your placement at the top of the page for relevant Google searches doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg if you’re careful about the keywords and phrases you bid on.

You should also consider both blogging and social media profiles as marketable extensions of your website. You’ll find that internet marketing doesn’t follow traditional formats, or at least, the more creative you get, the more likely you are to gain attention online. Connecting with consumers, opening the channels of communication, and creating relationships are important parts of your online marketing strategy, and your on-site blog and your social media platforms can help you to do this.

The future of SEO relies on the ability of businesses to use new technologies to increase their online presence, and while blogging has thus far proved an effective tool in this regard, social media is increasingly compatible with online marketing and SEO efforts. Plus, both are virtually free if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to make them work for you. And there are even tools to help you automate and save some time in the process. Finding affordable online marketing options might not be easy, but there are ways to save money and get your name out there.

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