For small businesses, your online presence is the new storefront.
Yes, websites and smart content have replaced window dressings and sidewalk sales as the ways in which customers are learning about businesses. It’s how they research child care options and scour the neighborhood for the most reliable tutors, housekeepers, or dog-walkers around. With so much competition out there, you run a serious risk of losing potential customers if you don't have an online presence.
“So many business relationships start online now, particularly through search and social media interaction,” says Mark Simon, Chief !nnovator at DiG - Development & !nnovation Group based in Melkbosstrand on the West Coast of South Africa. “That means it's critical that companies do everything they can to show up with relevant, up-to-date and useful information as this is how they reach out to their potential market while also establishing themselves as experts and someone to be trusted.”
But that said just having a website is just not enough because as of January 2018 there were over 1.3 Billion websites on the Internet. Just how do you make your online business presence stand out amongst all of them?
From keeping up on the latest Facebook updates to getting Google-verified, there are lots of ways we can help a small to medium business owners improve their Web presence on an affordable budget.
To help you out, we have pulled together this list of simple ways to enhance your business’ online profile:
- Don’t Overlook the Importance of Your Own Website
Creating a website may instill fear in some, but with all of the many tools and technologies out there now, it can be done very easily. There are several templates to help business owners easily set up a website that works for their business. After a quick set up, you can have a simple professional looking website in an hour.
Not sure where to start? Then contact us at DiG, we can help you understand what you need in order to build a website for your business.
- Verify and Update Your Business Profile on Google
Make sure your business profile on Google is completely filled out, including your current location, hours, services, photos, and links to your most recent blog posts. Getting your business verified through Google My Business can help your business surface better in Google's search results, Contact us at DiG and we can assist you with listing your business on Google.
- Embrace Video, and Think Beyond YouTube
Videos command a huge percentage of web traffic, and it can do wonders for your search ranking. As platforms go, YouTube is still the go-to video hub, but Facebook has also started putting more value on videos. Lawton says uploading your company's original videos directly to Facebook may result in more reach and views than if you posted a link on your website or on YouTube.
- Create “How-To” Content
You need to find a way to “wow” people, and how-to content is a great way to do that. “There’s so much competition now. There’s no real reason for anyone to choose you if they're just going through the basic steps,” says Mark Simon lead !nnovator at DiG “You are expecting them to discover how great you are. Being more creative in how you put yourself out there and create a reason for them to choose you.” Through the use of how-to content, you’re able to demonstrate your expertise in a shareable format that lends itself to social media and engenders loyalty.
Think of it this way: You’re using your knowledge and experience to help online visitors find you because they're looking for someone in your field. If you're a day care provider, try blogging about tips on potty training. If you own a housekeeping business, create a great video with hacks for homemade cleaning remedies.
- Get Social or Get Left Behind
If you aren’t embracing social media for your business, then you're losing out. According to the Pew Research Center's 2016 Social Media Update, about 86 percent of Americans currently use the internet regularly -- they're considered to be "online." And, of that, nearly 79 percent use Facebook -- as compared to the 32 percent of Americans who use Instagram, the 31 percent who use Pinterest, the 29 percent who use LinkedIn, and the 24 percent who use Twitter. As a percent of time spent online, social media has overtaken email, news, and other forms of entertainment -- so, if you want to reach your customers, you need to meet them where they are.
As you start your social media campaigns, remember the most important thing is to engage your audience rather than broadcasting to them. Also remember to test and iterate – not every social network is going to be a home run for every business.
- Get and Highlight Customer Reviews
Customer reviews and feedback are a great way to enhance your online profile. Whether they're on your website, a social platform, or online marketplaces like Care.com, reviews help promote brand trust and loyalty -- which, ultimately, can help increase your sales. Don’t forget to encourage your customers to give online reviews, as well. Most don’t think to review a business when they have a positive experience, so it helps to give them a little nudge.
READ MORE: 15 SEO Myths Dispelled by DiG
- Make It Easy to Share Your Stuff
Social signals matter when it comes to Google Search rankings. Google takes in hundreds of factors when it assigns page rankings to your content -- and this includes social. So, make it easy to share your great content by incorporating social buttons on your blog posts and newsletters. Customers and followers are much more likely to share when you make it easy for them.
- Make Sure You’re Mobile-Friendly
Early in 2015, search giants Google and Bing both announced they would take into account "mobile-friendliness" when presenting search engine results. Google has a free website analysis tool available that business owners can use to determine how their sites are performing in that area. Keep in mind that investing in a truly mobile-friendly site isn't just good for your search engine rankings — it can be helpful for your customers, too, who are increasingly searching on the go.
- Post to Social When Your Followers Are Active
Stop believing in the myth that there's a universal "best time" or "worst time" to post on any social media platform. You need to really analyze your own audience and understand when (and why) they're on social media -- and then cater to them accordingly. The best time to post on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else is only when your specific targeted audience is using those platforms. While it may sound complicated, it’s not; these platforms all offer easy to read insights that can help you quickly see when that best time is.
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