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Improving Your Small Business’s Online Presence
September 2, 2014

Improving Your Small Business’s Online Presence

In today’s digital era, consumers often turn to the internet as their first step in making buying decisions. Below we’ve outlined three areas to focus on to help improve your small business’s online presence.

1. Social Media

Social Media is a growing trend and a great way to unobtrusively connect with your customer base. By regularly posting to a social media site, you are reminding your followers of your presence, encouraging growth of your followers through exposure, and helping your business to stand out in its field. When getting started with social media, you should ask yourself, and even your customers, where they’d like to receive news and updates about your business. Not all social media sites, their users, and their function, will be best for marketing your type of business. To invest your time wisely, you may want to limit your social media sites by making an educated decision using the list below, or use a tool such as HootSuite, which will help you manage all of your social media in one place, at one time.

Facebook: Facebook is the largest social media site, and so it’s recommended that all small businesses maintain a Facebook account. Facebook is more laidback and unprofessional than something like LinkedIn, so you can supplement your posts with funny on-topic content that is more likely to get shared and liked. Bonus Tip: Increase presence with a target demographic by using Facebook’s paid promotion tools to boost your page and specific posts.  

Google+: Google+ is also recommended for all small businesses. Although Google+ isn’t currently as popular as other social media sites, it’s likely to grow because of its benefits with Google Search. Google+ posts have the ability to show up regularly in Google’s search results.  

Instagram: If your business’s products can be turned in to many visually stimulating photographs, Instagram is a great way to show off.  
Examples: Bakery, Hair Studio, Nail Salon, Restaurant, Crafters, Artists  

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the place to connect with other professionals and employees. The professional environment that LinkedIn Morley creates makes it a good tool for b2b (business to business) marketing.  
Examples: Tech Industry, Marketing, Sales, Recruiting  

Twitter: Use Twitter to quickly promote news, events, and specials.  
Examples: Bars, Restaurants, Non-profits, Community Organizations  

Pinterest: Similar to Instagram, if your product is visual, Pinterest is a great tool to use. With Pinterest, your posts have the potential to be pinned and seen by many users. Interest generated by Pinterest isn’t location specific, so you’ll get the most benefit if your products are available for purchase online.  
Examples: Crafters, Artists, Bloggers, Online Retail

 

2. SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and is all about where and when your site shows up in search engine results. The more often and higher up in the search results your site appears, the more traffic you will likely receive. While a large part of SEO is done by your website developers, there are some things you can do yourself.

SEO Checklist:

☑ My business has a blog that is connected to the website. The more content your site has and the more frequently it is updated, the better your site will look to search engines. Blogging is a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your field and make regular updates to your site. You can also advertise your blog updates across social media to drive even more traffic to your site.  

☑ My website has analytics set up. It’s important to have some sort of analytics done on your site, often Google Analytics, so that you can see what SEO changes are helping or hurting your traffic. By being able to monitor the results, you can analyze and respond in an informed way that will keep growing traffic to your site.  

☑ My website has fresh, on topic content. Content is king when it comes to SEO. The more content your site has, the more likely words from your site will match with a potential customer’s search query. Having fresh content added to your site on a regular basis will also give you a boost with search engines. Keep in mind that your site’s content should be pertinent and relatable to your target customer base. When writing your content, be sure to naturally use keywords that they are likely to search.

☑ I am regularly building links in to my site. Having other sites linking to your site signals to search engines that your website is important and reputable. You can build links in to your site by submitting your site to local business directories, such as industry related news sites or blogs. It’s also important to make sure that your site shows up within Google Map results and Yelp, to help local customers find your business. Another way to build links in to your site is through guest blogging or asking local news sites to cover your business in an article.  

☑ I am avoiding black hat SEO tactics. Black hat SEO tactics are derived to trick search engines in to ranking your website higher. This can include the overuse of keywords, garbage content, hidden keywords, and solicited link building. Oftentimes, search engines will catch on to these black hat tactics and penalize your site, making it hard for your site to show up in search results at all. It’s much better to invest the time and effort in to building your site’s presence through rich content than to risk being penalized.

3. Website

So far we’ve covered steps to improve your presence via social media and SEO, which aim to drive traffic to your website. It’s important to make sure that once consumers reach your website, they’re provided with an optimal experience. If you’re website isn’t meeting the guidelines outlined below, it’s possible that potential customers are leaving your site quickly from frustration.

Website Checklist:

☑ My website is optimized for different sized devices. Visitors will be browsing your site from a variety of devices that have different screen sizes, from a small mobile phone to a large desktop. Your Of website should adapt to fit these different sized devices in order to Scare provide the best user experience. For example, on a small mobile device, this often means having a one column site with large touchable buttons.

☑ My website is optimized for different types of devices. Viewing a website on different devices can render different results in terms of functionality due to compatibility issues. Your website should be tested across modern browsers and popular devices (Ex: Firefox, Chrome, Safari, IE 9-11, iPhone, iPad, Windows phone, and Android phone) to make sure that the visitor will be able to use the site as intended. Whether your site is easy to read and navigate on a device plays a large role in customer’s decision to look around or try a different site.  

☑ My website loads quickly. Visitors often make the decision to stay on or leave a website within the first 5 seconds. The first step in retaining visitors is making sure that all or most of the content is loaded in that time. You can use a free online tool, such as http://tools.pingdom.com, to get an idea of the speed of your website.  

☑ My website has quality content that is relevant to my business. When visitors do reach your site, you want to make sure that they can find what they’re looking for. Evaluate your content from the customer’s perspective by asking yourself: Is my content easy for someone with limited knowledge of the industry to understand? Does the content on my site answer any potential questions the customer may have? Do I get asked reoccurring question on the phone or in person that aren’t addressed on my website?  

☑ My website is user friendly. All of the other website tips we’ve covered so far play a part in creating a user friendly site. Take some time to navigate through your site and see if there are any buried pages or frustrating actions. If you can’t make your way around your own site, a new customer won’t be able to, either.

As more and more people use the internet as a resource when making purchasing decisions, optimizing your business’s online presence is an important investment. How did your business do on the checklists above? Likely, as technology evolves at a rapid pace, there is room for improvement. At Sierra, our website design and development team can help enhance your business’s online presence. Would you like to start the conversation about what needs improvement and how to move forward? Contact us today at WebDevelopment@SierraExperts.com or 412-722-0707.