For many small business owners, things like web design, SEO, and online and email marketing are probably not where their expertise lies. But luckily for you there a number of low-cost, easy to use tools that will simplify the process of taking your business online. To help you get started, we’ve put together a checklist of must-haves when building out your business’ online presence.
1. If you build it, they will come
This first one might be too obvious, but if your business doesn’t have a website nowadays, it’s almost like it doesn’t even exist. Lucky for you building a website for your business is super-easy. You no longer need to have coding or design skills to build a slick, attractive website. There are a number of low-cost solutions that will provide you with templates and WYSIWYG editors along with the option to code on the backend if you have that knowledge or employ a designer.
Before you get started, however, it’s important that you determine the purpose of your site. Is it strictly informational (contact information, details on products and services) or are you going to have an e-commerce element? Having this knowledge will be essential because it will help you determine the scope of the project. The type of business you operate will determine how in-depth you will need to get, but you should build out more than just a home page. Think of what type of questions your customers commonly ask. This is the kind of information you want to be made readily available on your site.
2. What’s in a (domain) name?
A business’ website is often referred to as its online storefront. And just like in the real world, if your business is hard to find, potential customers will probably move on to the next one. That’s why it is imperative when securing your domain name that you make it simple and easy to remember. It’s also important you make sure to register and renew your domain name. You don’t want to wake up scrambling one morning because your domain has expired and someone has grabbed it and is holding it for ransom.
One of the biggest benefits of registering your domain name is even if you change hosting platforms, your URL will follow you. Having a consistent web presence over the years will make it easy for returning customers to find you in the future.
Registering your domain is easy enough. Once you’ve zeroed in on a name, you’ll need to visit a domain name registrar like GoDaddy to check its availability. If the name is available, you can pull the trigger and become the proud owner of a domain name. For more detailed instructions on registering and setting up your domain, check out this how-to guide from firstsiteguide.com.
3. Optimize, optimize, optimize!
When developing content to populate your website you should identify keywords that are important to your industry or business. In its simplest terms, what are people going to type in a search engine when they are looking for a business like yours. As Moz puts it, “It's not always about getting visitors to your site, but about getting the right kind of visitors.” High traffic to your site is okay because it creates awareness, but what’s even better are visitors who are motivated to buy.
Optimizing your website goes beyond just keywords. There are a number of factors that make up Google’s local SEO algorithm. Businesses that want to be found should make sure their name, address, and phone number are consistent across all business listings, implement a linking strategy, and make sure their Google My Business page is up-to-date. You can find a comprehensive breakdown of optimizing your website for local SEO in this article by Neil Patel.
4. Become a social butterfly
When deciding which social media platforms to focus on, it’s important to do some research on where your customers already are. If the individuals you are targeting congregate on LinkedIn it might not make sense to put a lot of effort into a Facebook presence and vice versa. Once you’ve determined what platforms you are going to work with, you should then set goals for what you are trying to accomplish. Are you trying to drive leads through a social selling campaign or just increase awareness about your products and services?
You should also invest in a social media management platform that allows you to maintain all of your social media accounts and provides you with a dashboard that lets you track engagement, reach, and interactions. Last, but certainly not least, you should make sure your pages look professional. No one wants to interact with an egg on Twitter. Take some time to upload a profile pic and cover photo that will give your followers a better understanding of who you are as a brand. There are a number of free design tools to help give your accounts and your posts flair and personality.
5. You’ve Got Mail
Depending on the size of your business and customer base, email marketing can be a good tool to provide valuable information on promos, new products or services, as well as nurture content. Email marketing is an effective way for you to communicate directly with customers and potential customers who have opted in to receive content from you.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when building out your email marketing strategy is how often to send out emails. It’s a fine line business owners must walk. Send too many emails and you run the risk of alienating customers. Send too few and you might leave your customers scratching their heads wondering who you are the next time you decide to send an email.
6. Build your street cred
Finally, businesses should consider what others are saying about them online. One way to track this is by implementing an online review management platform. This will give you access to all of your business’ reviews across a wide range of platforms including Google, Yelp, Facebook, and industry-specific sites.
Another key feature an online review management platform provides your business is the ability to manage the dissemination of review invitations, which allows you to significantly increase the number of online reviews for your business. Taking control of your online presence will help you increase sales, improve local SEO, and enhance your customer experience.