In this 6-minute read:
- Online directories
- Social media
- Search engines
It’s not enough just to have your business “online.” Simply having a website out there, creating a social profile, or setting up a Google My Business listing can only take you so far.
You need to have strategies in place to constantly be growing and optimizing your online presence, sharing more information about your business, and staying active in a digital world if you want to keep up with your competitors.
Today’s customers expect a lot of information from varied sources. The more information about your business they can find, the more comfortable they will be making the decision to shop with you.
You can’t let your online presence grow stagnant. It’s important to leverage as many tools as you have at your disposal in order to gain every opportunity possible to keep your company thriving.
We understand that navigating our digital world can be overwhelming for small, local businesses, particularly if you’re not aware of everything that you should be doing. This article will provide you with a good idea of the online resources, listings, and tools that you should be keeping updated and interacting with regularly.
Google My Business (and other online directories)
For small local businesses, Google My Business is by far the most important asset for your online presence, and it needs to be kept up to date.
Consumers rely on Google to provide them accurate information about the businesses they shop from. From the hours you are open to your physical location to how good you can do their job (i.e., customer reviews).
When you don’t keep your Google Business listing updated, it can cause you to lose credibility with potential customers.
For example, let’s say your Google My Business listing shows that your store is open until 9 pm on Fridays. If a potential customer then shows up at 8:30 pm and you’re closed, they are going to lose trust with your business before they’ve even experienced it.
This goes for other online directories as well. Even though Google is the big dog, it’s still important to make sure your business is listed on other online directories like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Bing, Yahoo, Manta, YellowPages, and more.
The more places that you share your information online, the more opportunities you’ll have to grow your business. So make sure you utilize multiple online directories and keep your info updated and accurate.
Your website needs to be accurate and vital
A website is important, even for local businesses. You should constantly be updating your website, adding fresh content to it, and making sure your customers can find it (more on this later).
We live in a research age. Everyone has a mini-computer at their fingertips and looks up businesses, products, and services before ever buying.
Even if someone comes across your business through a word-of-mouth referral from a friend, they will usually look you up online, check your website, and read your online reviews before stepping foot in your place of business.
When that happens, you better have good website for them to land on. The lack of a website in this instance (or worse yet, an outdated website that doesn’t do justice to your brand) will hurt your reputation and cost you a valuable customer.
Set a calendar reminder to go in and check for outdated information periodically. Examples of this might be former employees, hour changes, address changes, discontinued products, or outdated services.
Beyond just checking for outdated information, you want to be consistently adding more to your website.
It should be a living, breathing entity that acts as an online extension of your business. When you are closed or when customers are still in their research phase, your website should draw them in and provide lead-generation capabilities.
The more information you have on your website to help your customer along the way, the better opportunities you’ll have. Additional expert information on your website, especially in the form of small business blogs or other authoritative content pieces, also build trust with your visitors.
Keep social media profiles and posts fresh
Social media is something that many small business owners feel like they have to do something with but they often aren’t sure what.
So oftentimes social media profiles get created and then left stagnant. In these cases, it’s almost better not to have created one in the first place (but you do need to be active on social media!).
Social media can be a powerful tool to help improve your online presence, when used properly.
Sure, not every social media outlet is going to be appropriate for your business, but when you decide which channels to utilize, you want to make sure to really round them out.
Each of your social profiles should be filled out (and kept current) with as much information about your business as possible, including photos, your logo, and additional content that your company has created.
Not sure where to get started with your company’s social media presence? Check out these guides:
- Which social media site matters most for local businesses?
- The 14 best types of social media posts for small businesses
- Small business: 10 tools for sharing content on social media
Search engine optimization for local businesses
The above-mentioned tools are the foundation for building your online presence. The ongoing journey of making sure customers can find you online (even when they aren’t directly looking for your business) lies within the search engines.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a huge part of putting your business out there and building up your online presence. The more instances online that your customers can find as they are searching on Google, the more reputable you will become with them.
Help your future customers get to know you and build trust with your company before they ever pick up the phone or set foot in your store.
SEO guides for small business owners:
- Local SEO services: What every small business owner needs to know
- 15 free tips for better search engine rankings
Enhance your online presence with more customer reviews
After adding as much information out there about your business as you can yourself, you’ll want to encourage others to share their experiences. That’s where online reviews come in.
Online reviews from real customers are even more impactful than what you can say about your own business. They show that you have provided services or products to actual people and that they enjoyed their experience with you.
Womply research shows that businesses with more than the average number of reviews earn 54% more revenue than the average business.
Create a plan within your business to get regular online reviews from your customers and get more information circulating about your business.
If you need help executing a strategy, Womply’s reputation management software can be a big help. This tool allows you to easily remind customers via text or email to leave your business their online feedback.
You’ll get alerts when new reviews come in to Google, Facebook, and other online review platforms, and you can even respond to all of your reviews right from your Womply dashboard.