When you’re operating a local business, you need to constantly attract customers and clients. In today’s world, that means you need to build out your digital footprint in ways that allow you to reach people where they are online. That means it’s necessary that you build out a strong online presence for your small business. Of course, this sounds easier on paper than it often feels in real life, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With Surefire Local, you’ll have all the tools you need to make yourself known online. Keep reading to learn more!
Online Presence for Small Business: 5-Minute Visibility Check
There are a lot of different ways that customers view businesses online. That can make it difficult to keep up with changes that need to be made in order to optimize your visibility. Here’s a quick walk-through of steps you can take to make sure you’re being seen as you want to be seen.
Step 1: Search for your business name and services on Google and Bing
You want to see how your business shows up when you search for your business.
- Does your business even appear?
- Where does your website rank?
- Which listings are prominent?
- This will give you a great first impression of how your customers are seeing you when they first come across your brand. You’ll also be able to see how your competitors are showing up.
Step 2: Check your local business listings
Take a look at various directory listings online, such as Nextdoor and Yelp so you can see how your information appears to people who are searching on those platforms.
- Have you claimed your business everywhere?
- What information is found? Is that information accurate?
- Is your information correct across all of your online listings?
Step 3: Check your social media profiles
There are a lot of people using social media to find companies they might want to work with in the future. This means your social profiles should be on point. Just like the process you go through when you check your local business listings, you should see if:
- You’ve claimed your business everywhere
- Your information is accurate and correct
- Your brand (name, logo, and info) is consistent across all profiles
- Knowing Your Visibility Grade
If you found yourself to be completely accurate and up to date on every site and platform, give yourself an A. If some of the information was incorrect, grade yourself with a B, and on down the grading scale. If you didn’t find anything, and you feel like you’re playing “Where’s Waldo?” with your business online, you might get an F, but that can be fixed with a little effort.
Today’s Customer Journey
Your website is certainly still a vital part of your online presence, but 73% of customer engagement happens off your website. A lot of your conversions will be “off-site conversions”, which may come from Facebook, YouTube, Yelp, or plenty of other platforms. That’s why it’s important to keep your information updated on all platforms.
Your online presence is more important now than ever. People are becoming more and more mobile, and they’re using the internet to find information about anything and everything. “Near me” searches have skyrocketed, and when you have your location information up to date, that’s how Google will know to send your business their way when people search for your services near them.
Build Your Presence
What actions can you take as a local business owner to keep showing up high in all of the various places where your potential customers are looking for you? Here are 10 tactics to help you grow your online presence:
You need to create content that connects. Part of this means incorporating keywords, but more importantly, you need to create content that speaks to actual human readers. The more conversational it is, the better. Focus on delivering relevant content; you need to have a strong understanding of who your customers are. Bear in mind that structure and readability are key. You also need to make sure your content addresses all stages of the customer journey (awareness, consideration, decision, purchase, and referral).
You want to make it very easy for people to learn about your business at a glance. 73% of people admit to skimming blog posts, while only 27% consume them thoroughly. This means your content needs to be easily scannable.
2. Service Areas
You need to establish your online service area with Google My Business. Getting search engines to recognize your entire service area online is one of the top challenges local service-area businesses face. GMB gives you the ability to define your online service area on Google to increase local visibility. You can add up to 20 zip codes, cities, towns, or states. You don’t want to overlap your service areas; rather, you want to build as wide of coverage as you can.
3. Google Posts
Google Posts is a newer feature of Google My Business that not a lot of people are taking advantage of, but participating in this part of the platform can help increase your visibility. It’s more or less similar to posting a Facebook update, but it gets posted to your GMB profile instead.
You can gain more control of what searchers see about your business on Google when you use Posts. This feature will help your profile on Google stand out when you add eye-catching content. Here, you can share offers, updates, photos. testimonials, and information about your team. 40% of local businesses have never created a Google Post!
4. Questions and Answers
GMB’s Q&A section is a powerful place where people can ask questions and you can answer them. In this area, you can create relevant content that answers specific questions. Q&A allows you to engage with prospective customers in the moments they’re considering working with your business. Q&A increases visibility in the “People also ask” section in Google’s local search results pages.
5. Photos and Videos
It’s very easy to add photos and videos to Google My Business, and the more of this type of content you have available, the more likely you are to get contacted by potential customers. Post photos from your office and projects, and take time to showcase your team and company culture. Videos can be uploaded up to 30 seconds; this is a great way to gather living testimonials from existing customers. You need to constantly add new photos and videos all the time; anything older than three weeks is still helpful, but it’s considered “no longer recent.”
You want lots of great reviews on an ongoing basis because people look at reviews when they’re in the research phase. Get more reviews by reaching out to all of your customers shortly after your work with them is complete. Reviews are an easy and powerful way to maintain your recency online. Focus on trusted sites that have the biggest influence on your online visibility.
Update your website regularly by publishing blog posts, adding first-party reviews, and creating location-based content. It’s important to continuously check and optimize according to Google Search Console insights. 46% of people expect a website to load in two seconds or less; if your site is taking longer than that, Google will be less likely to showcase your site as a top search result. Additionally, 82% of people won’t browse unsecured websites, so make sure you have your security updated.
8. Business Listings
There are a lot more directory listings besides Google My Business. You need to regularly update all of these business listings to ensure your name is the same across all channels, as well as your contact information, address, and other relevant details. It can be a lot of work to update each of these platforms manually, which is why it’s a great idea to have a software that can take care of all that legwork for you. (Just one of the many reasons why it’s smart to partner with Surefire Local!)
9. Social Media
Maintain an active social media presence. When you do, you’ll realize improved traffic, lead generation, and growing customer loyalty because these are some of the top benefits small businesses realize from the social sphere.
Share helpful how-tos and debunk common myths. Let people in on personal stories about your business, yourself, and your team to differentiate yourself from the competition. And, be sure to engage in conversations and respond to all comments.
10. Email Lists
Email lists can take a little time to set up, but the effort is well worth it. There are plenty of things you can do with your email lists, such as:
- Engage and nurture leads with targeted email campaigns
- Send automated responses to new leads for immediate follow-up
- Nurture leads to become lifetime customers with automated campaigns
- Engage past customers to drive repeat business and referrals
- Stay top of mind by sharing relevant, personalized messages
Schedule a Demo with Surefire Local
When it comes to creating an online presence for small business clients, nobody does it as Surefire Local does. Contact our team to schedule your demo of our software today!