10 Ways to Get Free Advertising on Google
This post covers 10 ways you can get top exposure on Google, without spending a dime. We’ll also cover additional forms of free advertising—both online and off—that don’t involve Google but are nevertheless effective.
How to Get Free Advertising and Exposure on Google
When you hear the word advertising, paid methods probably come to mind. Pay-per-click ads, affiliate marketing, hiring an SEO professional, and so on. It might surprise you to hear that not all methods of advertisement cost money—not even on Google. In this section, we’ll cover 10 ways you can get free advertising on Google. Later, we’ll cover other ways to get free promotion for your business other than on Google, both online and off.
1. Write Useful Content
Perhaps the best form of free advertising on Google is useful content. Publish blog posts and website pages regularly that answer common questions your ideal customers are looking up, and use SEO best practices to help your pages rank higher in search results. These pages will help your business to get in front of people who don’t yet know about your business. The more times you supply the information they need, the more they will trust you and the more likely they will be to choose you when they need a product or service.
When they benefit, they will develop respect for and trust in your business. Eventually, your advertising will pay off in full when they become customers.
2. Get Attributes Mentioned in Reviews
If your business offers a popular or unique amenity, make it worth writing about! In the example below, when you search on Google for “patio seating near me”, restaurants appear first whose reviews mention patio seating.
You can use this easy free advertising tactic for other features of your business such as a heated patio, same-day service, or urgent repair. Learn how to collect more Google reviews here.
3. Mention Special Features in Your Google My Business Description
Another way you can get your business some free ad exposure on Google is by mentioning popular amenities in your description. You’ll see in the example below that South Street Diner shows up first on Google for “breakfast all day near me”. It’s not likely by coincidence that their description contains the term “round-the-clock”.
4. Mention Specific Features on Your Website
In addition to your Google My Business listing, mentioning your specific features in your website can also get you some free, first-page advertising on Google. In the example below, Miss Ricky’s shows up first in results for “Breakfast all day downtown chicago” simply because their website mentions breakfast all day:
5. Perform Local SEO
Local SEO is your tried and true route to free advertising on Google. If you place location-based keywords in the right places on your website, you can show up first in organic results for searches that include your product or service plus your location. In the example below, ABA Appliance Repair, Inc. shows up first in the local pack of results (below Sears’ sponsored listing), and their website ranks number two in organic results, below a Yelp roundup page. Clearly they have their website optimized to appear for relevant searches + “austin tx”.
6. List Your Business on Directories
There are many directories aside from Google My Business that appear on Google. In fact, directories like Yelp and Trip Advisor that have been around a while are trusted by Google, and their pages often show up on the first page of Google.
For example, if you search “best tailors in portsmouth nh”, you’ll see that the first two organic results are Yelp pages listing the top 10 tailors in Portsmouth. The meta descriptions for those pages mention Erana, Terri’s Tailor Shop, Mr. Carl’s Custom Tailoring, Finesse Cleaners & Tailoring, and All Stiched Up. All five of these businesses have gotten free advertising on Google simply by having solid Yelp listings.
Other examples of free local and niche directories that can help you show up on Google include Trip Advisor, Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, and Yellowpages.
7. Publish Unique Content on Your Internal Data
What have you learned from your internal data in the past quarter, year or more? Have you gained valuable insights on sales, marketing, finance or human resources? If so, share what you’ve found with the intent to help others. In doing so, you will earn the trust of your readers.
ThriveHive did some digging this past spring and came up with a piece describing online advertising trends from our Guided Advertising services in Q1. This affords us some free Google exposure:
8. Submit a Blog Post to a High-Authority Site
Have you written an opinion or thought leadership piece? An industry-specific informational post? Does it pack a punch? If so, it’s worth submitting to a high-authority site with a wide audience. Be sure to pick a credible, well-known site in your industry that already gets significant exposure on Google.
In the example below, ThriveHive wrote a guest post for Marketingbitz.com. It shows up first when someone searches “the importance of a Google My Business listing”. When you click into the article, you learn about the benefits of a GMB listing, but you also learn about ThriveHive as well as our free Google Grader. Guest blogging is a great way to get free advertising on Google through the other sites Google trusts.
9. Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
There’s no better way to advertise your business on Google for free than with an optimized Google My Business listing. In fact, on average, complete Google My Business listings get 7x more clicks and are 50% more likely to lead to a purchase than empty listings. As you can see in the example below, Red Lantern’s Knowledge Panel listing (which pulls from Google My Business) offers a wealth of information that encourages potential customers to choose them.
They have all of their contact information listed, over 450 reviews, a compelling description, the ability to reserve a table, answers in their Q&A section, events listed, and are synced up with other online ordering platforms. Potential customers can also view photos of the interior and exterior of the restaurant. You’ll also notice that their website, Yelp profile page, OpenTable page, and TripAdvisor pages are visible on Google:
For free exposure on Google, get a Google My Business listing; but for free promotion on Google, populate as many fields of your profile as you can.
10. Offer Free Consultations
If you provide a service where you can offer free consultations, trials, classes, or assessments—try it out for some free exposure on Google. Create clear calls to action on your website and create a dedicated landing page that targets “free consultation” (or whichever free service you are providing). This will help your page rank on Google for people seeking out free consults in their area. For example, Carr Staples & Accardi, Gorden W Ulen, and Mark Zappala’s accounting firms each appear first on Google for “free tax consultation haverhill ma”:
Other Ways to Get Free Advertising—Online
1. Post to Social Media
Social media platforms are free. Use Facebook to promote your informative blog posts and encourage questions and answers in comments. Use Instagram to offer short how-tos and the show off your products and services. Use LinkedIn to publish thought leadership pieces and network with other businesses. You’ll get free exposure to the right audience while also driving traffic to your website and building your credibility.
2. Join and Stay Active in Online Groups
Use the forums and groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and niche sites to your advantage. You don’t have to hard-sell or constantly talk about your business (in fact, don’t do this). Simply engage in relevant conversations and offer your knowledge for free. Becoming a trusted contributor can get potential leads to notice your business.
3. Partner With an Influencer
A collaboration with a respected influencer in your industry can earn you free exposure to a highly relevant audience. Have them try your product or service and review it on their website, blog, or social media. Or ask to publish a guest post on their blog. These opportunities cost nothing more than your time, and aside from giving you some free advertising, help to strengthen your network.
4. Do a Social Media Giveaway or Contest
Social media giveaways and contests generate excitement. They get people talking…or, you could say, tagging. Often, people tag friends and family who share the same interests. This could be a great way to get free business promotion. You might even require your followers to tag someone else to qualify for the prize.
5. Encourage User-Generated Content
Encouraging the submission of user-generated content is actually like getting double the advertising, as this type of contest usually results not only in lots of tagging, but also lots of sharing, which further increases the reach of your business.Your followers will likely share on their accounts the content they submit to you. Hence, you reach their audiences as well. Additionally, your followers may repost the user-generated content you share on your accounts. That’s a lot of free advertising!
Offline/Online Free Advertising Options
These last few free advertising ideas can be done both on or offline.
Being interviewed has an advantage. People learn more about you on the initial contact than they would in many other instances. You have the chance to truly get them excited about and emotionally invested in your business. Additionally, you can distribute your interviews in several ways. You can share them in the newspaper, as videos on your company Youtube channel, on blogs, on social media, and so forth. Don’t forget also that you can interview a popular or influential individual among your target audience.
2. Run a Referral Program
Whether in-store or online, referrals encourage word-of-mouth marketing, which has always been an effective form of free advertising. Offer incentives such as discounts, deals, and other perks, to the referrer or to both the referrer and referee.