It’s hard to believe that in 2015, with the web over 20 years old, there are still some businesses that aren’t online or which barely seem to make an effort. It’s critical that you don’t let yourself fall behind like this. People are searching for local and small businesses – just like yours – online. If they can’t find you easily, you’re missing out on these customers – it’s like having a “Closed” sign on your door when customers show up. Here are some things every business should do to build their online presence.
Get Your Own Domain Name
You can get online in plenty of different ways, including with free services like WordPress or Tumblr . You can get a website with their domain (i.e. yourbusinessname.tumblr.com), but many services will also allow you to use your own domain name, if you have one. Get one, and use it. You can buy a domain through a variety of services, like GoDaddy or Namecheap.
You would never use an extension of someone else’s phone number for your business, you have your own phone number. So why would you use someone else’s domain name. When you use someone else’s domain name, you’re committing your future to them. If you move off their publishing platform, you can’t as easily take all your visitors with you. If the platform closes suddenly, you lose your address and traffic.
So get your own domain name, or ensure that whoever builds your website understands this is a requirement. It’s the best thing for your brand – and it’s cheap.
List Your Business on Yelp, Google and Elsewhere
Like it or not, whether you know it or not, there are local search engines already listing your business, allowing others to gain information about it or leave reviews.
You should claim those listings for your business. You won’t be able to prevent bad reviews, but you’ll be able to respond to these reviews and join the conversation. You’ll also be able to thank the customers who give you good reviews. It also means you can make sure the information provided is more accurate and up to date. While it doesn’t mean you can prevent bad reviews, it does mean you can improve the other information they provide and join the conversation. You may also discover things that you’ll want to improve about your business, things that customers may be too shy to comment on in person.
Have a Blog
Content, as they say, is king or queen. Consumers want more than price lists, menus, hours and product offerings from businesses. They appreciate expertise. If you offer this, they benefit directly, plus they may share your expertise with others—potential new customers.
So consider writing a blog about things you think are of interest to your customers. It could be as simple as new special deals you’re offering. It could be a recipe from your restaurant’s menu. It could be your take on a change happening in an industry. For example, if you sell insurance, you might want to give tips on dealing with a new law or advice on reducing premiums. This helps establish you as an expert while getting more eyes on your website.