4 Tips to Improve Your Small Business Online Presence

You’ve been working hard all year! Make sure the world can see what a great job you’ve done by improving your online presence for 2016. As we close out this year, it’s time to plan how you are going to continue to build and leverage a five-star reputation with a solid plan to manage your online presence for exponential growth in the next year.

Find Out Where You Stand and Go from There

How are you going to figure out how to get where you want to go if you don’t know where you are? Your online presence has so many parts, that you are in danger of wasting time working on the wrong aspects of your business if you don’t know where you currently stand online. The easiest thing to do is to Google your name and your business name and see what others see. Be sure to also search for your name with added keywords such as “complaint” or “fraud” and take note of what is showing up in the first few pages of results.

Maybe you are thinking, “that just shows me what Google says.” And you would be right. Google search is just the simplest starting point, but you are going to want to know what business listings, directories and review sites are displaying as well. With hundreds of websites online where your business information is located, doing a one by one search to check your information would be an exhausting (and foolish) undertaking. Instead find free tools like the Local Score grader below that will search the most important business listings and customer review sites to let you know where your business’s online presence is shining bright and where you can implement a plan for improvements in 2016.

What’s Your Local Score?

Enter any business name and zip code and see how you show up on directories.

Business Listings Management – a Necessity, not a Luxury

When new and existing customers are looking for your website, location or ways to contact you, search engines are using the information they have gathered from business listings across the web to deliver the most accurate and relevant search results they can. If you want customers to find you, contact you and visit your physical location managing business listings is a necessity.

First you have to discover incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate listings and fix them. Checking the formatting and validating each location not only clears up the confusion for search engines and people looking for your business, it also protects you from spam and hijackers who want to use your information.

Managing your business listings gives your business a boost in the competitive and profitable local search results you need to dominate. Now when people search for the type of product or service you provide, they will find your business listed high in search results.

Automating this process with a business listing management services makes it faster and easier to build, correct and monitor your most important and influential online listings for complete digital presence control. Ensure your business information is consistent and present with major directories to increase search visibility, escalate online and foot traffic, and get an upturn in growth and sales.

More and Better Customer Reviews Where it Counts a.k.a. Reputation Marketing

Customer reviews are a key ranking signal as Google and other search engines strive to give the most relevant and useful results to their users. Local search and mobile search are now providing reviews and ratings high in results, making customer reviews even more important for ranking high enough for customers to find you.

What ratings and reviews are customers seeing when they search online?

Are you ranking high enough to even be seen?

What have you done in 2015 to build a customer-winning five-star online presence?

Local online and mobile search will heavily influence consumer buying in 2016 as more and more people rely on fast and easy search results to lead them exactly where they want to be to make the best purchase. The latest surveys show that over 90% of consumers are looking at online reviews to make better and more informed buying decisions. Are your future customers seeing a five-star reputation when they search online before spending their money?

92 Percent Consumers Read Online ReviewsHere is what you should know from the BrightLocal 2015 Local Consume Review Survey:

  • 92% of consumers now read online reviews (vs. 88% in 2014)
  • 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading just 1-3 reviews (vs. 29% in 2014)
  • Star rating is #1 factor used by consumers to judge a business

For 2016 you need to do more to create a five-star reputation AND make that star rating as visible as possible online. Get more positive reviews and get them posted on the review sites and websites that your target groups use to find providers. Start by getting them on sites search engines and the local markets trust such Facebook, Google, and Yahoo Local.

When you use a service like Reputation Loop to handle your customer reviews and online reputation you’re able to utilize a widget that creates the eye-catching gold star ratings that show up in local search results so people see your overall star rating before they even search for reviews. Find out how Reputation Loop can take all the hard work out of building and maintaining a five-star reputation that grows your business by visiting Reputation Loop online or requesting a demo.

Optimize Everything for Local Search

According to a Google 2014 survey, 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information. In 2016, more of that search activity will happen on smart phones and mobile devises, than on desktops. SEO (search engine optimization) works to get you seen in search engine results, but mobile optimization makes it easier for that information to make it to the top of shorter and more concise mobile search results.

mobile-local-search-optimization-facts-reputationloop1SEO and Mobile Optimization aren’t going to organically happen on their own. You have to be purposeful in how you set up your website, blog, social media accounts, business listings, everything. There is a wrong way to do things, a perfect way to do things, and then there is a realistic middle ground where you take the basics of what you know works and make sure that gets done. Learn a little about SEO from the experts and apply the basics to what you are doing with your local online presence.

While you are learning, start with the basics: your meta data, title tags, image tags, alt tags, and H1 tags. You’ll want to make sure that, in these areas, you are consistently using your keyword (dentist, carpet cleaning, nail salon) AND your local identifier for city, region, and or state (dallas, north texas, texas triangle). Bare minimum ensure that your titles and headers include this information to increase your local visibility.

You don’t have control over every mention of your business online, but you have find a way to manage and leverage the breadth, depth and quality of information you can control. The online information you are creating, managing and monitoring is what customers are going to see when they search. And they are searching!

Lack of exposure, negative reviews, false or old information online are just a few of the issues that could hurt your business. Build a system that lets you benefit from the free advertising and marketing that a positive online presence will provide.


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Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.