There was a time, not so long ago, when having a website was the only way to build an online presence for your local business. With the proliferation of social media channels, ratings and reviews, and tools like Google My Business (GMB), a brand can now build an online presence at the local level without a website. In fact, 73% of high-intent traffic discovers your brand without visiting your website.
The more online touchpoints you create, the greater the chances that people who are looking for products and services like yours can find your business. Get started creating and maintaining these crucial touchpoints by focusing on three places: search, social, and web — what I consider the trifecta of online discoverability.
Sharing basic information about your business is the core of building your online presence. Users need to easily find the information they’re looking for when performing an online search. Start by claiming your local listings on search engines across the web. Building out free business profiles, such as Google My Business, is low-hanging fruit for building your online presence. Google is the most popular search engine, but don’t forget about completing your business profiles on other sites too, such as Bing, Yahoo, and Yelp.
Search engines are one of the first places people look to when searching for a product or service, so it’s crucial that the information presented on your business profiles is complete and accurate. This includes your business’s name, address, and phone number — sometimes called NAP data — as well as other important information customers may like to know, such as:
- The categories your business falls into
- Descriptions of your products or services
- Your business hours
- Email or other contact information
- Link to your website
- Details that can help you stand apart from your competition
Once you’ve claimed and completed all your business profiles across the web, do some web searches to see if results about your business are being accurately displayed in a knowledge panel, such as the one pictured to the right. The panel displays a snapshot of your business and is generated by search engines based on the information you filled out on your business profile and third-party information found across the web. Sharing content about your business across other sites, like social media or your brand’s local webpage, often helps Google recognize your business and provide users with better results.
More and more, people discover local business by asking their social networks for recommendations. Merely having a completed social media profile that’s regularly updated can help you generate business leads and enable users to tag your business if they’d like to share their experience with friends. Search engines also may curate results about your business from the content you post on social platforms.
Leverage social media to share the basic NAP data that consumers look for, and as a way to display your products and services visually. Doing this requires little tech savvy and can work wonders for building your local business’ online presence.
Your website or webpage provides another source of content that search engines pull from and that can help build your online presence. If you optimize your page properly, search engines will find your site and crawl the content to identify information that will answer users’ queries. The words used to describe your business, products, and services all become sources for keyword or phrase matches that search engines use to determine the relevancy of your page content to certain searches and where it ranks in the results.
Your website is the perfect palette to craft your message and let people know what you offer and why they should patronize your business. Words matter. So do the frequency of updates. Search engines reward sites that have fresh content, so you should be making updates at least once per month. Content updates can include:
- Business hour updates (seasonal or holiday)
- New products or services
- Limited time offers
- Team member profiles or acknowledgments
- Local organization memberships and affiliations
- Community awards
- Local event sponsorships
By providing locally relevant information about your business, you can develop a rapport with your local community on social media, which helps build trust and confidence in your brand.
Regardless of whether you utilize one or all of these touchpoints to build your online presence, you must always make sure the information is consistent and correct across every place where your business gets listed, and crosslink wherever it makes sense. For example, your social pages should link to your website and vise versa, and the knowledge panel on your business should have links to your website and social pages.
It Can Be Tough to Scale Your Brand’s Online Presence Locally
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