If you want your small business to thrive and survive, online marketing is no longer optional.

Whether you’re a B2B or a B2C operation, your customers are out there somewhere — and they’re already online and looking for you (or someone like you, with your type of services or products). In fact, 80% of people do some kind of research online before they invest in a product or service. So online marketing is really all about making yourself easy to find.

Fortunately, you’ve never had greater access to easy, inexpensive (or absolutely free) online marketing tools than you do right now. Whether you’re a dedicated do-it-yourself’er or just want to experiment with online marketing on your own for a while, this is where you can get started.

Ranking Higher on Google And Getting Started On SEO

A lot of small business owners haven’t figured out yet how Google knows how to locate the right things when someone types in a few keywords and starts searching for whatever they want.

Well, whether you’re selling pizza or property, it’s pretty much all the same process. Google takes a look at all the available information it has from the searcher, which now usually includes some idea of the person’s address due to the geolocation abilities on cell phones. Google then tries to match up the best pieces of content it has available to the person’s query on a search engine results page (SERP).

Where your business falls in that SERP is largely a result of your ability to wield the mighty power of search engine optimization in your favor. Those are the techniques that you can use to become visible to your potential prospects.

While it isn’t an exact science and it takes some time, it isn’t impossible to learn either — especially if you’re willing to do your own research. There are plenty of free training materials dedicated to SEO that will walk you through everything that you need to know to move forward.

The first thing you should probably do, however, is get yourself firmly on Google’s radar by getting on the map. That alone will increase your company’s visibility in local searches. Local search is becoming tremendously important these days because consumers are increasingly mobile — and when they search for something, they’re often on their cellphones and ready to buy.

Leveraging Social Media Into a Business Marketing Tool

No matter what your business, the trend today is to engage with consumers where you can find them — and you can find them all online, somewhere on social media. You need a strong social presence in order for new prospects to discover you and drive up organic interest in your brand.

A Facebook page is an absolute must. It’s still the go-to social site for many consumers, and it’s business-friendly. However, don’t overlook the value of a Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram account. All of them appeal to different parts of your potential market and have different uses. All of them help your future customers find you.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of free tools and tutorials out there that will walk your through the ins-and-outs of social media and its role in digital marketing.

You can also get some significant insights after you get started on your social campaigns about what’s working and what isn’t using tools like BuzzSumo. It lets you track the success of all the content you put out there.

Final Thoughts (For Now)

Even small things online can have a big effect on your business. While some things, like starting a campaign on social geared at driving new prospects to the door, may take you some time to learn and begin, other things — like just adding social media accounts and putting yourself on Google’s map — can have a big impact right away.

The first steps always seem the hardest with any project. DIY online marketing takes some time to learn and some effort to implement, but there are plenty of resources available that can walk you through the steps.