MOBE Tips - 5 Ways a Small Business Can Improve Its Online Presence

MOBE Tips - 5 Ways a Small Business Can Improve Its Online Presence
In today’s ultra-competitive environment, your small business needs an online presence just to be found. Showing up in a prospective customer’s search results can provide a significant advantage over competitors in your niche and, let’s face it, a significant portion of the market you serve is made of up consumers who begin their quest for products and services online.
The question is: where to begin? If you’re anything like most small business owners, you probably don’t have much of a marketing budget, or a dedicated marketing staff. And what business owner do you know who has time to research and master the finer points of SEO, SEM, or paid advertising? Not to mention, the web is jam-packed with the listings of all the other competitors in your niche. How can your business differentiate itself from all the rest?
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take. You don’t even need to be a marketing expert to pull them off.  Just put the following five tips into practice and you’ll soon increase your business’ online footprint and begin attracting new customers.

1. Respect the Power of Keywords

By now you should know that having a website that can be found easily on search engines is a core requirement for the modern small business. You can ensure that your site is easily found by including relevant keywords in your site’s text. These would be the keywords that you want to appear when your customer is searching for the goods or services you sell.
For example, if you’re in the business of repairing bowling balls and you’re located in Phoenix, Arizona, you may want to include “Phoenix bowling ball repair” or “Phoenix bowling ball service” on your website. Ideally, these terms should be sprinkled within the actual text on your web pages, in the meta descriptions, page titles, image alt tags, and in any blog posts. See also: Why Is It Important To Engage Your Audience?

2. Make the Most of Google

If most of your customer base is local, and you’re not looking to expand beyond the local marketplace, make sure that your listing is linked to Google maps. Doing so ensures that, when a customer or prospect types your city and business description in the search field (e.g.- “Phoenix bowling ball repair”), your business’ name and location should appear on the map. Prospective customers also may find you by performing a “Search Nearby” on Google maps for bowling ball repair businesses in the area.
Beyond getting found, being listed on Google maps is helpful to customers who rely on GPS devices to navigate their driving. Small businesses not listed on Google Maps run the risk of seeming out-of touch.
Getting a listing on Google Maps is as easy as can be. Just sign up with Google My Business, where you’ll be able to edit your listing’s details, track where customers are coming from, and read any reviews that customers post about you.

3. Leverage Online Directories

There are far more online directories than you might imagine. You may not use them yourself, but you never know where your next customer may find you—so, choose several and submit your information. Make sure you keep track of them on a spreadsheet, so you can accurately update information as your business grows.
Look for directories that are specific to your niche, as well as broad-based directories such as:,, Yahoo!Local, BingPlaces, Yelp,, CitySearch, Manta,, etc. The value of online directories varies, but having these listings should boost both your website traffic and your search engine ranking.

4. Know What Your Customers Are Saying

For better or worse, just about every business is being reviewed online by customers. Some reviews are justified, some aren’t. Last year, Yodle, a leader in local online marketing, conducted its first-ever “Small Business and Online Reviews Survey,” which polled 300 small business owners across a large array of service industries to get their perspective on online reviews.
What they found was that only half of small business owners think positive online reviews are important. Most aren’t receiving or asking for online reviews; and, a significant number of small business owners aren’t responding to or monitoring online reviews.
As if that weren’t bad enough, the survey also found that small business owners don’t effectively leverage customers’ online reviews, and many of them believe that the online reviews system is unfair.
Fair or unfair, you need to know what your customers are thinking and saying to others. Google “(your business’ name) reviews” to find out where most of your customers are posting feedback. Plug-in to these discussions and, when appropriate, respond in a helpful, respectful manner that demonstrates how much you care about your customer’s experiences. Never, ever post a knee-jerk response.

5. Get a Facebook Page

Although there are many social media sites to consider—and there are good reasons for you to be using Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and others—Facebook is a solid choice for both small businesses that are just venturing into the social realm and local small businesses that want to bring in foot traffic.
Facebook is one of the most popular sites for small businesses because it provides a great way to showcase locations, hours of operation, photos, web addresses, and relevant content. Updating your Facebook page at least once a month will keep your business top-of-mind for customers, and hopefully catch the attention of prospects who are on the fence about doing business with you. You can also encourage followers to share your page, which would increase your following. The platform even empowers you to distribute targeted advertising to Facebook users who may not know about your business yet.
By gradually implementing these five tips, you will grow—and better manage—your small business’ online presence. You’ll reap the rewards, and your customers just might thank you for putting their needs first.

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