5 Tips to Increase Your Online Presence
Being found online locally is one of the keys to success for everyone running a local store these days. When competing with online giants like Amazon, local stores can actually position themselves with a real advantage – localization. When optimizing your online presence to get the best position on search engines, you can use your locality to leverage your page rank. In fact, 4 in 5 consumers conduct local searches on search engines, and this is exactly where you can benefit while those pure online players are left out.
1. Launch a Website And Tweak Its Visibility
For most people this is a no-brainer, but to increase your online presence you should definitely have a professional website or online store. Without this valuable channel, it is difficult for consumers to identify your business – especially in the virtual world in which we live. Furthermore, the valuable backlinks from authoritative websites like Yelp, Yahoo, Google and other online sources would be wasted since there is no place to link to.
Having your site setup is the first step but the process is not complete without taking into consideration strategies to boost visibility to be easily found by customers. This can be achieved with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as well as Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Most of the time a combination of both is most valuable.
There are millions of people arguing about which tips and tricks work best to be found by Google and Bing’s algorithms. However, you do not need to be an Internet expert to make use of SEO for your own online presence. So here are a few basic tips to increase your website’s visibility:
- Choose the right domain for your business. Try to come up with a short domain name (20 characters or less) which is easy to remember and make it easy to type. Avoid hyphens and numbers which can cause confusion.
- Display NAP (Name/Address/Phone) on all of your pages. Have these details accessible on every page of the site, like the footer or a side bar
- Make your state and city appear in the title, H1 and H2 tags of your landing pages. Don’t be intimidated by these rather technical terms. Reliable website builders make it very easy for their customers to fill in this information without having to know HTML.
- Integrate Google Maps within your ‘Contact Us’ page to make it simple for visitors to identify your physical location.
2. Appeal to Google – Optimize for Mobile
Google recently announced that they will increase the value of mobile optimized sites in search rankings starting on April 21. “ This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices,” said Google.
This is just another reason why you should ensure your website or online shop is optimized for mobile devices. If in doubt, just ask your Web hosting provider if your website is capable with mobile through a responsive design or mobile page. It may be as simple as the check of a box in order to activate this feature.
3. List Your Business
As discussed in our previous post about 1&1’s ListLocal, listing your business in various business directories and local listing pages online will dramatically increase your visibility. Again, make sure your NAP is consistent and make use of categories, photos, and promotions. Not sure where you currently stack up? Try to Google your own business or use our free online checker to find inconsistencies and correct them quickly.
4. Make Use of Reviews
Reviews have a huge impact on your business: Positive reviews help you in creating trust and drive loyalty while negative reviews do the exact opposite. Don’t be shy to ask customers to for a review. But when they do offer a review, be sure to respond. This helps to illustrate that the business really exists and you are open to communicate, engage, and answer questions publicly.
There will be times when you receive a bad review, and you should deal with it. Whether the bad review is justified or not, do not delete it but rather try to comment and clear up the situation. If consumers notice you are regularly deleting negative reviews, your hard earned 4 or 5 star rating will lose all of its worth. And finally, do not fake reviews, because in the end this will come back to you and have the same impact as regularly deleting all bad reviews, if not worse.
5. Utilize Social Media
Social media is a double-edged sword: If used correctly, it can greatly help you and your business flourish. But if you do not pay enough attention to it, it may backfire and be poisonous to your business.
Of course you should setup a Google+ and Facebook business page, but if consumers try to get in touch by posting questions on your wall, you should respond in a timely manner. Keeping in touch via social media channels may lead to building your own local community and encourage consumers to talk about your business.
Guide this engagement by making your page interesting with news, offers and pictures on a regular basis. There are a lot of social networks out there, so besides Google+ and Facebook, try to focus on those most related to your business.
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