Your small business needs customers. That one's a no-brainer. But how do your customers find you? In a digital world, people seek out services and products online. Unless you pitch your sale better than Chris Farley a la Tommy Boy, then your website is your most important sales asset (well, besides having a kick-butt product or service). Here, you list out all your products, your social media points back to it, and it's where your Call-to-Action resides.
It's called SEO. Search Engine Optimization; it's the trick to getting your website listed on the Google search results page when someone searches for your services online. There's a whole science behind it and it can get complicated. But you have to know a few things about SEO to keep driving traffic to your site (aka potential customers). So here are six simple tips tips to have an effective online presence with your small business.
1. Keep things updated.
Every time you update your website, you are increasing your interactions with viewers and search engines. And the more often that a search engine's crawlers (crawlers read through a website's code and content) visit your site, the more often your site will go through indexing--hopefully getting ranked higher each time.
So, it's critical that you are updating your website, whether that means posting blogs or adding pages. Example: Think how Wikipedia is always high up on search engine results... content on that site is being updated constantly.
2. Push out [Quality] Content.
Emphasis on quality over quantity here. The more content you have out there, the more opportunity to get noticed by potential customers and search engines. Just because you're pushing out content, does not mean that you're helping your online presence. When a search engine checks out your page, they look for quality content. That means you can't just fill your small business website with random articles and stuff paragraphs with key words. You can actually get penalized for that.
Key words are integral to SEO, but not if they are overused, as mentioned. Do your research and figure out what key words you want to go after. (This means which words, when googled, would trigger your site to pop up on the results page.) Use them aptly in your photo captions, descriptions, website page titles, and in blogs.
3. Define who you are.
Speaking of key words... make them count. You have to know who you are to know which words define you. This will prove if you have clear branding or not. Your website should reflect exactly who you are as a company and what service or product you offer those who happen upon your site in the virtual world.
Simply put, your branding should determine your key words. Your key words should be focused, and thus you should have a focused target customer segment accessing your page.
4. Claim and clean up your listings.
Disclaimer: this is the most tedious task on this list. Google your small business name. Try your phone number. How many results come up? If they are out there, you need to claim ownership of them and make sure they are all accurate and up-to-date. In addition to being accurate, they need to be identical. Copy and paste the exact same description, address format, and product details into the different listing sites.
This improves the likelihood of popping up on local searches. If you have a strong key word that matches the words a person used to search in your area, you'd be more likely to pop up if Google (or whichever search engine) knew exactly where you are located. Plus, you never know where online traffic could come from!
5. Get social.
Everyone's favorite: social media. If you're not already, you should be on social media. Social media is a great way to connect with your existing and potential customers. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin. Create matching profiles on them all and utilize them. Update each with your blog posts, company updates, and relevant industry news.
One strategy we have used here at Upsourced Accounting is the 4:1:1 concept. This means that for every 4 posts about industry relative content, you should share 1 post that is more personal and 1 post that is directly promoting your company.
6. Generate Reviews.
At our accounting firm, we believe word-of-mouth recommendations are our best form of marketing. That's why we strive to have quality relationships with our clients. In their book "Online Law Practice Strategies: How to Turn Clicks Into Clients," Jabez LeBret and Mark Homer of GNGF cite that "79 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, which is an increase of 12 percent over the past three years."
Social proof is crucial to conveying to potential clients that your services are worth their time and money. Don't feel uncomfortable asking clients who you interact with often to write you an honest review online. This could wind up helping drive your sales and lead to greater conversion rates down the road. So make sure you've got profiles on Review Sites!
Have tips or tricks of your own? Comment below to join the conversation!