As a local business owner, you’ve spent a great deal of time and money making sure that you have a good location, a nicely appointed facility, great products or services and bright, capable employees. These foundations of a local business are truly what sets extraordinary apart from ordinary in today’s competitive business world. To keep the edge, you invest in marketing, advertising, and promotions to get customers through the door – and keep them coming back. Today, most local businesses also have websites so that people can find them online. And many are investing in pay-per-click and display advertising to drive potential customers to their websites.
But how much time have you invested in understanding exactly what total web presence for your small business actually means?
More than a Website
The reality is, just having a website isn’t the end-all, be-all answer to making sure customers find good information about your business online. That’s because web presence is more than just a website. In fact, your web presence extends beyond your website already – and you may not even know it!
So, What is Web Presence?
Web presence is essentially everything online that refers to your local business. So if you’ve got a website, that’s one component. But web presence also includes elements like the Google Places listing for your company, reviews that customers post about your business on sites like Yelp or Angie’s List, comments that current or former employees share on sites like JobVent, and posts and pictures that people share about your business on their personal blog, Facebook or Flickr account. Websites, directories, review sites, social media sites – all the places online where your business is mentioned factors into your web presence. So, why does all this matter?
Why Web Presence Matters for Local Businesses
1) Discoverability. First, your web presence matters because a robust web presence across many sites creates more ways for consumers to discover your business online. In other words, the more places your business is online, the more opportunities consumers have to find it, ultimately helping you acquire more customers. Compare that to a single website that gives you just one way to be found.
2) Reputation. Web presence also matters because consumers rely on information and reviews from other customers when choosing whether or not to do business with you. It’s often said that a happy customer may share their positive experience with one person while an unhappy will share their complaint with ten. And a wide body of research shows that what people post about companies, products, and services has a significant impact on consumer behavior. By participating in the conversation and actively managing your reputation, you can also enhance your business web presence and boost the bottom line.
3) Word of Mouth. The incredible power of word of mouth is amplified online. Are you creating interesting reasons for customers to talk about you online, spreading your business presence across the social web? Being active on multiple sites, sharing fresh, interactive, engaging content, and actively engaging with current and potential customers helps you grow a base of fans and followers who in return can drive referrals to your business.
So, before you take steps to enhance your web presence, you have to understand exactly what it looks like today. Stay tuned for our next post, which will help you discover your local business web presence.