The list of free ways to promote your website could keep you busy for years, but many small business owners will find it worthwhile to also include some website promotion tactics that require a budget.
Paying to promote your website can bring results faster, requires less time, and allows you to be more targeted in who you reach.
If you have a budget to work with, consider adding some of these tactics to your promotion strategy along with the free methods.
1. Use Paid Search Ads.
SEO is a slow process that requires you to play the long game. But you can get your website on page one faster, as long as you’re willing to pay for it. Google Ads is relatively affordable. The platform has useful targeting options that allow you to narrow down who sees your ads based on factors like:
- The keywords they’re searching for
- Demographic details like gender and age
- Their geographic area
And notably, you only get charged when someone clicks on your ad, so you’re paying for actual visitors to your site—not just potential ones. If you have some money to spend and want to reach new visitors sooner rather than later, paid search ads are a useful option.
2. Use Paid Social Ads.
The social media marketing you do for free has a limited audience. On most sites, the only people who will see and interact with your updates are those who already follow you (and sometimes their followers, if they choose to interact with your posts).
If you’re trying to build a social media following from scratch, getting people to follow you in the first place can feel like an uphill battle. When they can’t see your updates, how will they know to follow you in the first place?
Almost every social media channel offers paid advertising options to help you get your messages in front of a wider audience. As with paid search advertising, social media advertising provides extensive targeting options to help you reach the most relevant audience for your website. You can promote your website to more people, and hopefully grow your following on the platform at the same time.
3. Try Native Advertising.
When you’re perusing your favorite websites, you may have noticed that their feeds occasionally include content labeled “Sponsored” or “Promoted.”
This is native advertising. It’s when a brand partners with a media property to create content that’s in character for the media site, but promotes the brand—usually in a subtle way. The goal with native advertising is to get attention and entertain, without making a hard sell.
Native advertising tends to be pretty costly, so if you’re not a business with much of an advertising budget, this one’s probably not for you. But for the right brand, it can be a powerful way to reach a large audience and get more visitors to your website.
4. Use Paid Distribution Platforms.
You probably notice paid ads around the web in your own browsing. When you get to the end of an article and see a few suggested links, those are ads websites pay for by using paid distribution platforms like Outbrain and Taboola.
Paid distribution platforms partner with popular media websites and blogs to promote their content in an ad-like format. But instead of showing banner ads, which don’t perform well with most audiences, paid distribution channels recommend articles and other types content. You may have seen recommendations for “you may also like” at the bottom of an article you’re reading online.
If your business does content marketing, paid distribution channels are a good way to get your content in front of new audiences that may care about it. Note that since these platforms don’t allow straight advertising—just links to content—they wouldn’t make much sense for any business not committed to creating content as a marketing tactic.
Outbrain and Taboola are attractive because they give you a cost-effective way to show up on popular sites that normally charge top dollar for ads. You only pay for clicks, as with paid search and social. And if you manage to give your content a solid headline and an eye-catching image, you can drive some new visitors to your website that may just stick around to see what else you have to offer.
These platforms allow you some control over the publications you show up on—you can exclude any you find offensive or don’t think are a fit for your target audience. And they allow for geographic and audience targeting as well, so you can better reach the right people.
5. Sponsor Relevant Events.
Events of all types need sponsors. And you can find events for almost any type of industry or topic area. Sponsorship usually means getting mentions in most of an event’s materials, which can raise the profile of your brand. But more importantly (for our purposes), it also usually means you get a mention of your website on the brand’s site with a link back.
Small businesses can gain a lot of goodwill in the community and build links and awareness at the same time by finding local events to sponsor. Even small towns often have events and festivals you can get involved with. To find events in your area that you might be able to sponsor, check out websites like Eventbrite and Eventful. You can look for events in your area and limit the results by categories like Festivals and Organizations.
For anything that looks like a good fit, check out the website to see if they offer sponsorship opportunities and get in touch with the event planners for details. Be sure to ask outright if the sponsorship will come with a link to your site.
People who participate in the event will be exposed to your business through the sponsorship and may check out your website to learn more. And as an added benefit, you earn some local SEO authority with a new relevant link.
6. Host Your Own Event.
Even better than sponsoring an event is hosting your own event. When you put on an event for your audience, you gain a lot of press and attention. You can start to develop a community that will, over time, attract even more members of your audience.
You can keep things small, like starting a monthly meetup in your community. Or, if your audience is big enough, you can go big and set up a conference or weekend retreat for your followers. It requires a lot of planning and can potentially get costly (depending on how big it is), but hosting an event is a great way to connect more directly with your audience and drive more attention to your website in the process.
7. Support Charitable Causes.
People increasingly care about the brands and websites they follow demonstrating that they stand for something. Showing your support for a charitable cause that matters to you is both a good way to connect with your audience through shared values, and a way to potentially reach new visitors.
Many nonprofits will mention you on their website and include a link back to your site if you donate at a certain level. And if you go further than a donation and help put together a fundraising or donation drive, you’re likely to get the attention of media sites that see the event as newsworthy and relevant blogs that see an opportunity to help support something they also care about.
And as a more obvious benefit, you get to support something that matters to you. That’s always worth it.
How Will You Promote Your Website?
Creating your website isn’t enough. You need to make it easy for people to find. You don’t necessarily need to do everything on this list, but use it as a starting point to figure out the best tactics for you and put together a strategy that will ensure your website reaches more people.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.