Five Things Your Small Business Should Do Now To Get Found Online
Most small businesses these days understand that having an online presence is essential, but its effectiveness as a revenue generator for your organization is limited if people that are searching for your products and services don’t find your site. If you’re getting into business for the first time, it’s important that you understand that just putting up a website is not enough, and you probably won’t get found online and see leads and orders flooding in unless you take it a step further.
Internet marketing is not rocket science, but it does require time and effort and the understanding of a few basic concepts. Here are some of the most basic things you can do to get the process started. If you can’t find the time to do them yourself, you can hire someone to help you, and there are a number of qualified individuals and agencies in Maine that work at reasonable rates.
- Know your customer. Understand who your customers are, what they read and watch online, how they search for information, what their interests are, and so on. This can be as simple as just asking a few questions of customers. When you think you know, build a one-page description of an imaginary potential buyer. Marketers call this a buyer persona – and it’s a very important tool to help you develop your online presence. Over time, you may end up with several buyer personas, but it’s always best to start small.
- Know your keywords. What words and phrases, related to the things you sell, will bring you traffic, leads and sales to your small business? Start with brainstorming potential words and phrases your buyer persona might use and then use a free keyword analysis tool such as KeywordDiscovery.com to see how much search volume each phrase generates. Most of these tools also suggest alternative phrasings that also generate traffic. Build a big list. Find hundreds, or even thousands of phrases. Another great way to find keywords is to plug a competitor’s website into Spyfu.com to and see what phrases are bringing traffic to them.
- Prioritize your keywords. Believe it or not, the answer to this one is NOT to sort your words by the highest traffic volume and automatically work on the highest volume phrase. In most cases, these high traffic keywords will be really competitive, with lots of companies vying for the top spot in Google or Bing. Since you need results sooner than later, a less competitive phrase is usually a better choice. New businesses starting out will probably want to focus on long phrases with lower traffic volumes because they’re less competitive. The good news is that in addition to being less competitive, longer phrases tend to generate more leads and sales, because they’re more specific. Customers who know which make, model, or color they want are closer to a purchase decision. You can also go far using geo-targeted phrases. For example, we emphasize phrases like high-speed Internet in Maine, Hosted PBX in Maine, and phone service in Maine.
- Update your website to use those words. Once you have a strategy for which keyword phrases you plan to use, spend some time reviewing your website for opportunities to use those words. Put them in where it makes sense to the reader, but try hard to get them in the page title, headers, and early in the body copy. It also helps to use them in photo captions or alt tags. Before you take this step, make sure you know what keywords, if any, the page is already ranking for – you don’t want to lose existing traffic and leads while trying to get new ones. Free tools like Google Analytics can help with that.
- Start a Blog. You’ve built a big list of keywords, and the chances are that you have more keywords on your list than pages on your site. What you’ll want to do is create new web pages on a regular basis that use those keywords. A blog is a great way to do that. Get on some kind of regular schedule that you can stick to: weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Make it a priority to publish on time. Small business owners struggle with this because it’s a big commitment, but if you really want to get found online, it’s a vital component. In addition to allowing you to optimize for a larger variety of words, a blog keeps your web site fresh. Search engines love timely content. Lastly, the more you use a word on your website more likely you are to rank for it, so don’t forget to re-blog about the most important phrases. To get started with a blog, have your web developer install and configure WordPress on your website.
These five crucial steps are the beginning of your online marketing effort – not the end. You’ll want to share your blog posts online using social media, develop calls to action that get website visitors to become leads and most importantly, you’ll want to measure the results of your efforts so you know what’s working and what isn’t. We’ll talk more about those in upcoming posts. Until then, good luck with your small business!