Stellar Online Presence Doesn’t Mean Having a Website Alone
In today’s modern society we have all learned to embrace the nature of ‘always on’, where everyone is constantly connected, and able to find any information they need, within seconds, via a quick internet search. This availability of information on the internet has led to many issues regarding individual privacy, but what many business owners may not understand is this affects them too.
Whether you have spent years pouring over Search Engine Optimization SEO methodologies, and are an expert in online & digital marketing, or have never even heard of these terms before, every company needs to realize they have some sort of a digital footprint. Through the sheer number of platforms available on the internet for registering, reviewing, and ‘checking-in’ to places of business, your company is likely to have been mentioned in some form of the online local listing. The problem with this is that, if you are not aware of and actively controlling how your business appears online, somebody else is. This means that information provided about your company is likely to contain factual errors, or even negative connotations because it isn’t coming directly from you.
Today your company’s presence online is possibly the singular most important resource for gaining new business and staying relevant in your sector. Research conducted by Google states that 4 out of 5 people now use online searches to find local businesses just like those here in Bentonville, AR, meaning that not controlling your local listings, and failing to utilize this resource, is costing your business money.
What can you do about this Start by putting your company name into a search engine and see what results in pop up. With most internet local listings, you should be able to claim ownership of ones relating to your company by providing certain information. This is a good way to begin building your company’s online presence, as now that you control the listings, you can provide correct information about your business. Google reports that consumers consider businesses with a complete local listing including information such as location, and business hours twice as reputable, and are 29% more inclined to think about purchasing products or services from them, in comparison to those without. However, despite these telling facts, 63% of local businesses have yet to claim their local listing online, thus limiting the potential for business growth and customer acquisition.
The first and most important listing to claim is your company’s Google My Business listing. This will be one of the primary local listings that will appear online when conducting a search of your company, as it is offered by Google, and so ranks high in their results. If a listing appears for your company but is not currently owned by you, you can follow the steps provided, and claim the listing yourself. This will allow you to verify any information that has been entered about your company, and make sure that all the details you want to share with potential consumers are present and correct.
Google doesn’t provide the only local listings online, other search engines like Bing also have their own, and there are third party listing sites that provide similar information. Claiming any and all listings that relate to your company, and bringing them all under your supervision, is a great way to start managing your company’s digital footprint, and provide consumers with the information you want them to have.
Other websites that may have your company listed provide more than just information, review sites, such as Yelp, are a good example of this. Yelp is a site that allows anyone to rate and review a business or establishment they have been to, based upon the quality of the product or services provided, the level of customer support, the price of what is on offer, and other metrics. As with Google and Bing, Yelp may also have a local listing for your business, if any consumers have reviewed your company previously. This is another listing you can claim by following the instructions provided. Although you won’t be able to make any alterations to the reviews that have been posted regarding your company, such as in the case of any negative feedback consumers have provided, you will be able to interact with said consumers and assure them that all efforts will be made to provide better quality service in the future.
Now that you have taken ownership of local listings relating to your company, its online image is looking a lot better. Having gone this far, you may consider taking that extra step to help increase your business’s SEO. Search Engine Optimisation SEO relates to how likely your company is to show up in search engine results when people ‘google’ you. Other than the local listings mentioned thus far, search engine results can also include your company website, and any social media presence your business has. This is how you can help improve your business’s SEO, first by ensuring that your company website is mobile friendly. What does that mean Mobile friendly relates to whether your website can be viewed well on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. With large numbers of people now ‘surfing the web’ on their mobile devices, having a mobile friendly site is of paramount importance, with search engines ranking this feature high when calculating search results. Google provides a simple tool to check on the mobile friendliness of your site, if it says you are good to go that’s great, on the other hand, if there are issues, you may want to discuss these with your Web Designer.
Having taken a look at your website, you may then wish to turn your attention to social media. With the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many more having millions upon millions of users, they can prove to be an ideal resource for marketing your business to a targeted audience. By having a presence on some of these social networks you will be able to find and engage directly with potential consumers who are interested in your company’s products or services. Social media sites are often found on the first page of search engine results when researching a company, so having a presence will help raise your company’s online visibility.
Having a company website is no longer enough when it comes to a business’s online presence. To fully harness the potential for new customer acquisition provided by the internet, a company must promote a unified brand message across local listings, social media, and SEO content. Doing so will leave a digital footprint that consumers can follow straight to you.