Okay, you’re feeling proud of yourself. You’ve spent the last month creating and finessing your website. The content is perfect, the images used portray you and your business professionally, your contact details provide a variety of options and your call to action is strong.
So why is no one contacting you?
Unfortunately a website alone is not going to bring in the business. Nowadays so many Virtual Assistants have their own website that there is an element of work involved to ensure your business gets found online.
Put it this way, the search term “virtual assistant” produces over 18 million results. Add “uk” to the search and you still get over 11 million results. That’s a lot of competition.
But fear not, there are ways to get your website ranking higher, and more importantly, there are other ways to promote your business online. Your website is not the only marketing method you should be using.
Before I go any further, whilst this article is primarily geared towards VAs first starting out, there are 10 suggestions contained within it that all VAs should be doing – newbies and veterans.
Tick off how many you’re already doing, and put a strategy in place to cover the others by the end of the year.
1. Add your website URL to all marketing materials
This applies to both online and offline materials. Your business URL should be in / on your:
- Email signature
- Company letterhead (if applicable)
- Business cards
- Social media profiles
- VA Association profiles
- VA Directory profiles
- VA forum profiles
- Small business forum profiles
- Promotional items (if applicable)
2. Optimise your website
SEO is an ongoing process that should be continually monitored and tweaked to maximise your chances of appearing in search results organically.
Whilst Google’s algorithm changes regularly, generally speaking SEO is determined by these three area:
- Website code – there are techniques website developers should use to ensure your website is “search engine friendly.”
- Website content – the text and images contained on your website.
- Website links – from relevant external websites pointing to your website.
Make sure your website has been built to be “search engine friendly”.
Make sure your content contains keywords you want to appear for. A good tip here to save money, is to run your own keyword research to make sure the keywords you choose are competitive keywords with a good amount of traffic. When you first start out, trying to compete for keyword “virtual assistant” will be tricky – remember there were over 18 million results for that search term. Try Google’s free tool to help choose your keywords: https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner
Make sure you have plenty of strong links pointing from authoritative websites to your own.
3. Google Places
Register your business with Google My Business (formally Google Places) and appear higher in their results for local businesses. It’s free and simple.
4. Get involved in social media channels.
Setup a Facebook page, Twitter account and Google+ account. Add your profile info with your website URL and connect to all profiles from your website.
Then begin to build up your followers. Start interacting and engaging with them by posting relevant information. Respond to questions that are being asked. Share interesting content.
Just remember the 80/20 rule. At least 80% of the time be social. 20% (or less) sell services. You’re much more likely to be successful on social media if you use it to become an authority, rather than use it to sell, sell, sell. The latter will only result in your followers unfollowing you.
5. Use LinkedIn
The largest business network by far is LinkedIn. Whether you create a company page or just continue to use your profile, you can share your own information, share relevant industry information, join relevant groups and network with relevant people.
Twitter, Facebook and to a less degree Google+ are very much for personal and business use, LinkedIn is 100% business focused. Use it professionally to build your network and you may find a lot of work comes your way.
6. Start a blog
You must live in a cave if you haven’t heard the expression ‘content is king’! And whilst that’s perhaps a slight exaggeration, it certainly will do you and your business a lot of good if you create interesting, relevant, fresh new content regularly.
The key here is to create a plan and schedule and stick to it. Think of your target audience and create articles that will appeal to them. Then publish each article on all your social media channels, as well as any forums and groups that allow it.
7. Guest blog
Guest blogging is great to get your ideas and expertise in front of people who may not ordinarily have seen it. Contact a few small business blog owners and submit an article idea. Ensure that you get a short bio included with a link back to your site, or if you’re lucky you may even be able to include a link within the article itself. Either way, it’s an important backlink to your site and good exposure.
8. Comment on industry or niche relevant blogs
It’s good practice to follow a few key bloggers or websites that are relevant to your specialism. Make sure you read any new articles that are published and if you feel you can add value, leave a comment. Slowly this will begin to build up your own profile. People will start remembering your name and, if you’re lucky, start seeing you as an authority in that field. When that happens, it’s only a matter of time before you’re contacted by a potential new client.
9. Get involved in an industry or niche relevant group or community
LinkedIn have some very good active groups, there’s bound to be one within your specialism (if you’re an all-round VA, then consider small business groups). There are also plenty of small business forums and of course forums within any niche industries you may be targeting.
As with the commenting and networking mentioned above, this is the exact same thing. You’re not here to sell, but instead to input. Add value. Show your worth. Then when they see you’re a regular, you’re helpful, and you know your stuff, they’ll soon be hammering down your door with their business support needs.
10. Build a database
Last but not least, is to start building your own database of contacts. There are a number of ways to do this, but one popular way is by offering a free downloadable eBook. For example, “10 Tips to be more productive”, or “Simple techniques to help organise your accounts”. Have them leave their email in exchange for the free download, and hey presto, you’ve got yourself a database of potential clients to reach out to.
Then when you’ve got them, send out a monthly or quarterly newsletter. Keep it interesting by offering more free tips, but also offer your own services. Perhaps announce a time-limited exclusive offer only available to those lucky people on your mailing list, this may entice them to take advantage before it’s too late!