Article Summary: The benefits to your business of building a strong online presence for your business purposes are twofold: it’s a way for prospective customers to find your business and a way for current customers to stay engaged. Any time is a good time to check how your business appears online, so why not now!
Here are 6 places that can help you create an online presence for your business:
- Your Website
- Review Sites
These six places are by no means exhaustive, but they will help with building your online presence and hopefully grow your ROI. Read below for actions you can take today.
1. Your Business Website
When you think of your business’s online presence, your website should be the first thing that comes to mind and where you devote the lion’s share of your efforts. This is where all your other online businesss pages link to, and any changes or updates will start here. Think of it as your home base.
Ask yourself these questions about your website and make any needed changes:
- Days/hours of operation – are they up-to-date?
- Special holidays and hours – are you open or closed?
- Phone number – is it correct, and do you have multiples?
- Menus, products, services – do you have anything to add or remove?
- Copyright date – check your website’s footer to see if that’s current.
- Social media icons – do you have them, and do they link to your pages?
- Location/address – do you have Google Maps installed? Are all your locations listed?
- News – upload recent news articles about your business.
- Employees – do you list your employees, and is that list accurate?
Your business’s Google listing is very important to keep updated. When a prospective customer is searching for a new restaurant, local plumber, or health care specialist, you want your listing details to be accurate so they don’t go to the wrong location or call the wrong number. There’s nothing worse than showing up at a business and it’s closed when it says open on Google!
Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to start and maintain an accurate Google listing. Here are a few things to do on Google:
- Google My Business (GMB) – claim your free business profile to update to how your business appears in Google search and gain insights into how people are searching for your business. The great thing about GMB is you can get emails to remind you to make updates, such as:
- Days and hours of operation
- Special holidays and hours
- Phone number(s)
- Google Maps address
- Photos – upload new photos of your business, storefront, and inside, if applicable. Encourage customers to leave photos, too.
You may or may not have a social media online presence, but you should think of social media as an extension of your website. Facebook is really pushing itself as another search tool, like Google, and there are a few key things you can do to optimize your business Facebook page.
Check out these Facebook action items:
- Choose a page template – Is your Facebook page set up to maximize your presence? Check out the Templates and Tabs section under Settings while logged into your business Facebook page. It is likely set to the default Standard template, but you can choose between that or Business, Service, Restaurant, and Shopping. Changing the template will change the tabs that appear on the left-hand side of your business page, but you can preview what those tabs are before you make a change. You also have a choice to turn on/off certain tabs.
- Page Info Tab – After you update your template, stay in Settings. Right above that is the Page Info tab. In there, you can make changes to days/hours of operation, phone number, email, website URL, location, parking availability, public transit, and price range. These changes should automatically update in your About Section, too.
- Jobs Tab – One of Facebook’s more recent changes, you can now advertise any open jobs you have right on your page. Make sure you add/remove jobs when needed.
Did you know that Instagram is owned by Facebook? You get many of the advertising and posting benefits on Instagram as you would on Facebook. This can help streamline your online presence on both sites.
Things to look out for on Instagram:
- Sign up for Instagram Business Tools – take advantage of the following items by either signing up or upgrading your current Instagram account to Instagram Business. You can do that by going to your current profile and clicking on Edit Profile. The prompt should be right below your bio.
- Business bio – Similar to Facebook’s About section. Provide a brief and accurate description of your business products or services.
- Website URL – add your business’s website. This is the only place where you can have a link in Instagram. Links do not work in photo or video posts.
- Category – ensure your Instagram account is categorized correctly.
- Contact Options – you can include your email, phone number, and business address.
- Action Button – find this under Contact Options. Give your customers a call-to-action, like “book,” “reserve,” and “order,” through third-party integrations like OpenTable and GrubHub.
- Photos – you want to make sure you have fresh photos uploaded weekly. If you want, you can post the same exact thing on Instagram as your Business’s Facebook account at the same time. Just make sure they are linked.
- Hashtags – when you do post, use appropriate hashtags so people who are not your followers can find your business page. Use as many relevant hashtags as possible to broaden your reach.
You may already have a personal online presence via your professional LinkedIn page. But LinkedIn is also good place to build out your business’s online presence, too.
Here’s what you can do on LinkedIn:
- On your Professional Page – Make sure your Title and Contact info, Experience (i.e., your business), and Summary are updated. Provide a clear headshot, and wear branded clothes, if applicable. In your contact info, you can provide your business email, phone, address, and website URL.
- Create a Company Page – If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile for your business, you can create one while you’re logged in to your professional profile. At the top right of the page, next to your picture, is the “Work” dropdown. Click that, and at the bottom, there is an option to “Create a Company Page.”
- Company Page to-dos – Once you have a Company Page, you can fill out the profile to include your website, phone number, jobs, and photos.
There’s a good chance that prospective customers are shopping around before they decide to patronize your business. Today, 65 percent of the buy journey starts with online search. Having positive, recent reviews are an important part of building your business online presence and helping people who are looking online for your products or services to find your business.
Where should you collect reviews? Both Google and Facebook have review collection functions, and both also display your star rating of 1*-5* next to your business profile when someone searches for it. For Facebook, you’d need to turn on the Reviews Tab to display reviews.
Also consider industry-specific review sites. You want to go where your customers are searching for your business. For instance:
- Angies’ List –for service provides
- OpenTable and Resy –for restaurants
- Amazon –for businesses that sell online
Ask, and ask often. Fresh reviews show engagement with your website, and search engines like Google look favorably on that increase in traffic—so make sure you’re regularly asking your customers to review your business and talk about why they like doing business with you.
It also doesn’t hurt to show reviews on your website. As a best practice, it’s a good idea to link to the review or to the review site so prospects can do their own research.
Stay on top of it!
It may sound like a lot of things to tick off the list, but you need to consider what type of online presence makes sense for your business before you dive in.
You may have time to knock out these action items in an afternoon and set up monthly reminders to make sure everything is still up-to-date. Or if your team has bandwidth, appoint one or two employees to make sure the listings are accurate, and that reviews are coming in. Delegation can be your friend!
Liked this article? Check out: How to Get Happy Customers to Write You Online Reviews