Businesses live or die on their reputation. For small businesses, this is all the more true. A big business can take a few PR hits now and again, but a small business can be killed by one public relations snafu. Before you can have a good reputation, however, you need to be known. How can small businesses compete with other, more established ones? Thanks to the internet, it might just be easier than you think.
Small Businesses Guide to Being Found on the Internet
For small businesses the key to success is a strong reputation. For that, you need to be found so people can build up that reputation. To get found on the internet, there are three things you must consider.
1. Content Marketing
Great content is a pretty important part of a website, but what good is having great content if nobody reads it? For that, you want content marketing. Content marketing is all about getting content to come up in searches. If your content is well-written, readable, and engaging, you’ve got a good start, but to get it to really rank, you need link-building.
Links are still one of the biggest factors to content marketing. Google and other search engines use stats for how many sites link to your content to determine its relevance and importance, but it’s gotten quite complex since the early days of web-surfing. These days, any old link won’t do, because Google knows that some sites will create link pages, or spam links in message boards to try and boost their numbers. So, for a good link to help your site, it must come from a site that is well-regarded, and be featured on a page with content relevant to your own site. If you have a small business in baking bread, a link from site devoted to the rock band, Blue Oyster Cult is probably not going to be well regarded by Google. But if a site has a page about tips and tricks to making bread and it links to your site, that’s gonna boost your rankings.
Link building is a slow, but effective process for building up awareness. It takes time, but it will boost your presence in natural search results, helping you get on top and stay there. Area-Info has many great partners who specialize in content marketing and link-building available to help you achieve this success.
2. Up-To-Date Local Listings
Business directories are a great way to make your small business easy to find. Groups like Angie’s List and similar services let you put an entry for your business into their directory. This entry will contain all the need-to-know information: your business’s name, phone number, address, website, and more. Since the business directory contains a link to your website, it helps with link building. It also provides a quick reference to everything a customer needs to know to get in contact with you should they look you up in the directory. This, combined with Google Maps and Google Business pages create a strong base presence to point people to your website when they’re looking for a specific service.
It is critical to keep these listings up-to-date and consistent. If your business moves to a new location, update the address. If your website changes to a new domain, or new URL, change it on your listings. And most importantly, make sure that all your business listings are consistent. If one listing has a different address listed from the others, not only will it confuse customers, it confuses Google. Customers might get directed to the wrong address, or go to an old web address and get an error, making them think your business has closed down. To avoid this, make sure you always keep your listings consistent and up-to-date.
Online reviews have grown in value to companies over the years. In fact, online reviews are now a critical consideration for small businesses that want to be found online. According to studies, 97% of customers will look for online reviews before going to a business, and 87% say they trust those online reviews, with 84% saying they trust them as much as personal recommendations. It’s pretty clear if you want to succeed, then you need good reviews.
The best way to get good reviews is to ask, surprisingly enough. A lot of loyal customers will tell you they love your services, but once they leave your business and go home, they won’t think of you again until they want to buy from you again. Loyal customers are more than happy to leave reviews for your small business, but often they need to be reminded. If they tell you how satisfied they are, ask them to leave a review. To help them out, give them a card with your Facebook page where they can leave one. Ask if they’re willing to let you send an e-mail reminder and, if they say yes, send them an e-mail with a link to where they can review you. Most customers will be more than happy to leave a review if you ask and tell them where to go.
The internet is one of the most useful tools invented in the modern day. Instant communication with customers lets you make your services more convenient, while search engines and online reviews can help customers discover you with very little effort and expense. You don’t need to spend millions on marketing and advertising when a batch of free business directories with consistent information, a handful of positive online reviews, and some good content sparking discussion and providing back-links will do twice the job of the most expensive TV ads. A little effort can propel your small business to massive local success.
Area-Info will be glad to help you in that goal. By sharing your valuable insight with our readers, and with the advice of our partners, you can leave your competition behind.