The 3 Things Small Businesses Need To Do Online
Rule #1 – Get Found First
Rule #2 – Gain New And Repeat (Or Lifelong) Customers
Rule #3 – Building Credibility – Reviews
It’s hard to believe that the Internet is now multiple decades old. But it’s true. And although you may have a website for your business, some things have changed when trying to promote your business online. If you were once getting found in
Google, you may not be anymore. Then, mix in the challenges with generating and managing your online reviews,
whether they’re from Yelp, Yahoo, Bing, Google Plus or who knows where because there are at least 15+ local sites in your area where customers can find you, or not. Here are some new rules for promoting your business online to ensure you are found.
Don’t worry, some of these rules will make your life easier. And the others? Well, let’s just say that if you do them right – you’ll make a lot more money. (And if you wish, we can help you implement them).
#1 Get Found First
Obviously you want your small business to be found, right? If you don’t see the importance of this yet, you need to start thinking about this just a little more. Imagine this, so close your eyes and imagine yourself being a potential carpet cleaning customer. Imagine that you had a big party last week and the carpets are just a mess. What do you do? You go online. Where are you when you decide to search for a carpet cleaner in Google? In the kitchen on an iPad, maybe. In the home office on the desktop computer. Our maybe even waiting in line at the store on your iPhone or Android. Then mix in the challenges with generating and managing your online reviews, whether they’re from maps, products, directories like Yelp and Yellow Pages, and the list goes on to what you could find in a search. Even if you’re found on this page, there are things you need to do to stand out. There are things customers want to see. There are things you’d want to see when picking a carpet cleaner online.
WHAT IS GOOGLE LOOKING FOR?
Google has something called a “quality index.” As of November 2014, they announced that they looking at the quality of the usability of your website or pages. If you follow everything in Rule #2 below, you should be okay. If you wish, you can
see the Google step-by-step approach to improve your site.
By the way, Google states that 20% of all “business type” searches are done on a mobile device. That’s fairly low compared to searching for a barber (35%) or a car wash (45%). But searches on mobile devices is still growing very dramatically for all businesses.
#2 Gain New And Repeat (Or Lifelong) Customers
It’s not just about getting “found.” Being picked is about providing the right information to the customer. Here are the things you need to have in order to get noticed online.
Please. Please. Please keep your site easy to read. I don’t think we need to explain why that’s important .
2. CONTACT INFO
Make sure the following pieces are on your site: business name, address, phone number, URL. If in doubt, see rule #1. Oh, you must place this in text and not in a graphic, especially the phone number. This gives those that are looking at your site on a smart phone the ability simply “press to talk.”
If you’re the only business like yours for the surrounding 400 miles, then this might not be important. Otherwise, it is. Many or most people will simply type “carpet cleaners” or “massage” or “hair salon” into Google. Google will triangulate the searchers IP address (the code on that persons computer) to the address you have on your website. If it doesn’t match, your search result won’t be seen, probably something you wouldn’t want to happen. You will have most likely lost a new customer and potential referrals from that customer.
4. ABOUT YOU and YOUR COMPANY
People want to know who you are. Your name and your photo will work. And wear your uniform. Don’t be too cutesy – but be professional. Don’t over-complicate this. And include a single paragraph business description of what you specialize in and maybe how long you’ve been in business (unless you’re new).
5. Scheduling Easy
Make it easy for customers to book appointments! If you arent able to answer your phone 100% of the time, then you need other mechanisms for allowing your customers to book appointments. We recommend your voicemail gives customers the option to book online, your website clearly shows customers where to book online, and all email signatures include text saying “book your next appointment online at www.yourbusiness.com. If you do everything else right, but lose the customer when it comes time to schedule an appointment, you will be totally wasting your time and money.
Did you know that the five points above are also reviewed by Google’s algorithm to determine your placement in search rankings? So it’s not only important to implement this for your customers, it’s important to implement for Google too.
#3 Building Credibility – Reviews
Reviews are critical to your success. Here’s a short list for where customers can review your business: Yelp, Google Plus, Yahoo, City Search, InsiderPages, Home Advisor, Golden Reviews, Merchant Circle, Yellow Pages, Yellow Bot, and Foursquare. There’s plenty more, though.
SOME TIPS FOR GENERATING GREAT REVIEWS
Of course, in order to feature reviews you have to have reviews. There are several different ways that you can make efforts to gain quality reviews from your customers (without being overbearing!):
1. Ask loyal customers to leave a review right before or right after payment.
2. Google and Yelp do not advise you to offer any free gifts or incentives, but you can.
3. Make it easy to leave a review either online or when someone is visiting your business by having a box for written reviews or a button on your website.
4. Educate people on your social networks and it’s important to show them where on your pages they can leave a review.
5. If you see that someone left a negative review, try to reach out to that person, resolve the issue, and have them write a positive review.
6. Put your customer’s reviews and testimonials on your website so others will want to participate and write you a positive review.
Reviews are critical to your success. Survey: 90% Of Customers Say Buying Decisions Are Influenced By Online Reviews.
It’s important to remember that you do want a few negative reviews for your company (in fact, constructive criticism would be better than negative). This will help your company seem real and show that you are willing to face those negative reviews by commenting back.