Evaluate Your Business’ Online Presence to Grow Your Profits
Each year, as more of your customers spend more time online, your business’ online presence becomes increasingly important. The hardest part about building your online presence is the ever-changing rules and best practices of the digital world. The best practices that worked last year, let alone five years ago, probably won’t help you today.
There are so many aspects to your online presence that you may not have even considered all of them. Or you might not have enough time in your day to manage it all. I’m not going to get into the details of how to build your online presence from scratch or dive into every important detail. Instead, let’s talk about the four major areas (website, social media, online advertising, and SEO) that together create your company’s online image to make sure you know the most important thing you need to do to keep your company at the top of its game.
I’ve worked with many small business owners to grow their online presence over the past decade, and I want to share one simple best practice in each area that often gets overlooked.
You should consider your website as your storefront online. The visuals, the copy, the user experience all matter, just to get potential customers past your homepage. If you have an eCommerce site, it’s all the more important.
However, the biggest faux pas I see on small business websites is missing or difficult to find contact information. Don’t be afraid of having your contact information on your website. In my ten years of working with small businesses, I’ve seen sites that don’t have any contact information on it to those having only a contact form. I’m not even going to talk about the former, but with the latter, If you only want people to reach out to you via email, it’s more productive to get a generic email address and list your actual email on your site. If you want customers to reach out to your from your website, let them do it on their terms. Plus, if anyone that can help your business is looking to reach out (i.e., the press or potential partners) they will not fill out a contact form, and you may miss an opportunity.
No matter if you’re a B2B or a B2C business, being on social media in some capacity is important. I’m not suggesting that if you sell car parts to mechanics that you need to be on Snapchat, you probably shouldn’t be, but there are channels that will work for you—you just need to find them.
No matter which social network your business works with, there is one thing you need to keep track of across the board. What are you posting that most interests your followers? The summer is a great time to take a look back and evaluate your social media. Check which posts got the most likes, share, comments, and clicks. Take those posts, find the common thread and give your community more of what they’re looking for from you. The more you learn what your customers want you to talk about, the more you can delve into those topics, and the more you’ll see your engagement grow.
The most popular method of online advertising is on search engines like Google and Bing, but it also includes ads on popular social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. You should be familiar with the terms PPC (Pay Per Click) and PPM (Pay Per Impression).
Online advertising is not simple; there are hundreds of things you should consider when you’re putting together your online advertising campaigns. If I can offer you only one piece of advice on the subject, it would be this: Test, test, and test some more. The beauty of online advertising is that you can test hundreds of variations to optimize your results. Given that you probably don’t have the time or capacity to test 100 variations at once try testing two at a time. It’s called A/B testing. Look back and see what words, phrases, and images worked best for you in the past. Take your strongest ad of the year thus far and pit it against a new idea. Take the winner, and keep iterating. Testing your ads should be a never ending process, but it’ll be worth it when you gain more and more traction with what sometimes might feel like seemingly insignificant changes.
Last, but not least; SEO (Search Engine Optimization):
The fact that “Google” has become a verb should imply to you how important it is for your website to be found by search engines. SEO is not simple, but there are simple tools and best practices to follow to make sure you’re on the right path.
I’m going to use the word “Google” for obvious reasons, but this applies to all search engines. Let Google do its job. Google changes its algorithm often to make sure that the right sites are making it to the top of the results. The best thing you can do for SEO is to be honest. Don’t try to trick the search engines; they are smarter than you. Make sure that the written content on your site includes the keywords that your audience is searching for. The easy part is, if you are honest with yourself, these “keywords” will work themselves into your content naturally. Evaluate the content of your site to make sure that you include your keywords in your site. If not, revise your copy.
If you feel you need more space than just the informational pages of your website, a blog is great option to assist your content creation endeavor. Many businesses add a blog to their website so they have more opportunities to focus on different areas of their business on different webpages. (*SEO is multifaceted and complex, it takes time to develop, and there are many things you can do to improve your search rankings. If you want to learn more about SEO, here’s a good place to start.)
As a small business owner, staying on top of your online presence can seem overwhelming. There are many areas to focus on, and each area has many details to consider. I hope this introduction to a few of the simpler things you can do easily, without the help of an expert, will help you amp up your business’ online presence.
What do you do to stay on top on your online presence?