You know that potential customers are searching for your local products and services on the Web. But what are you doing to make sure your small business gets seen online? Before, a single, static website with some serious SEO used to be enough – but today that’s only one part of your holistic Web Presence strategy. So here are 5 easy ways to set the foundation for your Web Presence to make sure you’re on the right track to help your small business get customers online.
1. Stake your claim on local directories and review sites. Make sure you claim and fill out every online profile and property with info that is relevant for your business (like your location, phone number and hours). Start with the big ones, like your Google Place Page and Yelp profile. Then visit a search engine and look up your business category and business name to see what local directories and review sites appear. Make sure to keep an inventory of which sites you’ve claimed in case your business information changes. That way, you know where to go to keep your details consistent everywhere online.
Why is this important? The more sites you claim under your business name, the more chances you have to “own” multiple links on the major search engine results pages that get seen by customers searching for your products and services.
2. Advertise on search engines and local directories. Don’t just count on natural (or “organic”) listings to carry all the weight for you. Pay-per-click advertising, also known as sponsored listings, is an affordable, effective way to gain even more coverage on the search engine results pages. Plus, you can get creative by capitalizing on a wide variety of keywords that your target consumers use to search for your products and services.
Why is this important? Local directory and review sites let you control certain info and details about your business. But the rest of the content (reviews and comments) is written by consumers, which you can’t control. With sponsored ads, you get to craft and control the message – before and after the consumer clicks.
3. Constantly create quality content – everywhere. Search engines, local directories and review sites are major portals where consumers are searching for you, but don’t forget about social media. Sites like Flickr,YouTube, Twitter and Facebook all have their own site-specific search engines. So be sure to create and post lots of photos, videos, updates and offers for your business that contain the keywords you need to get seen by customers online through sites like these.
Why is this important? Consumers are searching for keywords on content sites the same way they would on major search engines. Overlooking this consumer search tactic can mean risking losing a potential consumer to a competitor.
4. Keep the conversation going. Look at the Web Presence Lifecycle and you’ll see that your photos, videos, updates and offers don’t just go into a black hole once they’re published. Consumers discover, comment on, like and share what you’ve posted. So make sure you’re listening to what they have to say, and engaging their responses to continue the cycle.
Why is this important? Social media sites put a stream of the freshest, latest real-time content front-and-center. If you’re creating new content andresponding to the conversations your content inspires, it means you and your business stay top-of-mind with your fans, followers and customers.
5. Rally your advocates. You’ve got loyal customers who love you and wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else, right? So make sure their voices are being heard on the sites that matter most. Ask them to write reviews on local directories and review sites, and see if they’ll comment on and share your pictures, videos and tweets with their friends and family.
Why is this important? When your advocates mention your small business by name, they’re contributing to your overall Web Presence in a way that builds word of mouth awareness and drives referrals.
The way consumers search for your products, services and your small business online has evolved and expanded – just like the Internet itself. So to get customers online, it’s crucial to make yourself as discoverable as possible by establishing a Web Presence that reaches more places and more target consumers.
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About the author: Angela Epley is the lead contributor to the ReachLocal blog, which focuses on small business online marketing strategies. Follow her on twitter: @angelaepley