It never ceases to surprise me how many small businesses still do not effectively promote themselves on line. Many have a website but do not use this resource to its maximum advantage and many are unaware of the other ways in which they can promote themselves and their business. So here are a number of simple tips that can be used to maximise your online presence:
- Get listed in Google Places
Google searches now prioritise local results. By entering your businesses details in Google Places, Google will be able to index your business and provide these details in searches improving your ranking and providing increased traffic to your website.
2. Get listed in appropriate directories
There are many Online directories covering all types of businesses. One of the best known is Freeindex. In addition to a basic entry of all you business details you can enhance the listing and include links to your website. Most directories get thousands of hits a day and will provide traffic to your site. You can also use sites like Gum Tree to enter a free ad for your products and services.
3. Get articles published in article directories
This is a great way to develop your position as a thought leader and to expose your brand to a wider audience. Articles will be picked up by other sites or bloggers and published with your by-line and website details. Google now indexes these articles which helps with SEO and increased traffic to your site.
4. Write a Squidoo Lens
Squidoo allows you to build a simple one page website which can be used to promote a product, service or special offer. Economies of scale means that again this will be seen by many people outside your normal sphere of influence and help to improve rankings.
5. Linked in
One of the most useful social media activities you can engage in is updating and maintaining your profile in Linked In. You can start your own Group based on your business and invite people to engage with you discussing issues that affect your market. In addition you can raise your profile by answering questions raised by other members of Linked In. As part of the answer you can link to topic experts, perhaps within your company as well as provide further information by including links to your website.
Over recent years Facebook has grown substantially in numbers of users and in the way they can interact. In addition to setting up your own personal Facebook page, you can now set up Groups and your own Business Page. For some parts of the population this is the main form of communication and if that is your market then you need to maximise your engagement with this media. Because of the real time nature of communicating by Facebook it is ideal for starting conversations on new products and services and asking about future trends.
When Twitter started it was primarily used for friends to tell each other what they were doing. It was simple to use, took no time to deliver 140 characters of information and could be done on the run (using mobile technology.) More recently businesses have taken to twitter as a means of driving traffic to websites and blogs. By adding links to photos, websites, products, offers etc it has become a mainstream communication tool for business.
Most websites are static and are rarely updated. Often this is due to the technology used making it difficult for anyone other than a programmer to change anything. But the one thing that a website must do is attract visitors and get them to carry out some form of action (call, email, buy.) One method of keeping visitors coming back time and again is to provide regular updates on activities within the company or market place, information on products and services, special offers and the like. The addition of a good blog to a website will help with SEO, traffic and will help to keep customers engaged.
9. Maximise your reviews
In a B to C environment buying tends to be done after referral to friends relatives and work colleagues. Peer reviews and referrals from friends has a much greater effect on the purchasing decision than anything you can do. So it is important that you obtain testimonials, case studies and third party reviews which will help customers with their buying decisions. Using organisations like Tripadvisor and Qype assists in maximising reviews of products and services.
10. Trust signals
Do not forget to include details of corporate or personal membership of trade bodies or institutes as well as copies of certificates of achievements and awards on your website. This will help improve trust between the company and is potential customers.
Review your website copy. Do you talk about what you do or do you talk about what you do for customers? Customers by benefits. How do your products and services benefit customers? This is what visitors to your site need to see. They do not stay long enough to wade through lots of copy about how you make your products, what machines you have etc., etc. Focus on how you help customers save time and money which in turn will help turn more visitors in to customers.
12. Calls to action
When potential customers arrive on your home page (or other landing page) do they know what is expected of them? Does your website make clear the call to action? In many cases websites tell a good narrative story about the company and its products but neglect to take the customer on the next stage of the purchasing journey. You need to encourage them to go one step further by getting them to contact you by phone or email, to download some free information in exchange for their email address, or take up your latest special offer.
Google offer a number of free tools to help you maximise your web presence. One of these is Google Analytics. The reports from Google Analytics helps you to understand how people interact with your website, where the enter and exit the site, how long they stay, what keywords or search terms they use and many other areas. All this information if understood and used correctly enable you to improve your site and gain more traffic and better ranking.
Another Google tool is Alerts where you can keep abreast of what is happening in your industry, any breaking news that helps you and information on competition including what people are saying about your business.
Google + is one of the latest products from the search engine giant. This is a Social Media Tool which can be considered the equivalent of Facebook. It has some powerful features and is well worth exploring to maximise your presence.
Embedding Google Maps into your website not only helps customers find you if you have a physical presence but also ensures better rankings for your site. As indicated earlier combined with an entry in Google Places ensures more traffic can find you.
14. Google adwords
This is not a free tool but is very useful to drive up your website rankings and targets potential customers looking for your products at that moment. Depending on how much you bid for the search keyword phrases you ad will appear on the relevant search results page at or near the top ensuring you gain maximum number of hits. Costs can be held in check by use of the budget limits which ensures that you do not overspend your daily budget.
15. Title tags
Title tags are embedded in the coding for each page of your site. Most people just use their company name in the title tags. But typically most people do not search by company name therefore using keywords and phrases in the title tags will help in search engine rankings.
16. Meta tag description
This is the part of the search engine listing that appears below the main title. It should be used to describe the main benefits that you offer your customers. If Google cannot find a meta tag description it will normally pick up the first one or two lines of the website home page which as we have seen does not always do the company justice.
17. Email signature
Email signatures are a great way to promote your website, blog or other on line presence. The inclusion of hyperlinks to your website makes it easy for potential viewers to connect.
18. Email marketing
Set up a method of collecting visitors email addresses in exchange for white papers, newsletters and other useful information. Building a database of people interested in your products and services will allow you to regularly send them information on special offers, new products and services and exclusive deals.