So you’ve decided that your business needs an online presence. That’s fantastic! An online presence can connect you with potential customers and increase your overall stature and legitimacy as a business. Consumers tend to trust a business that they can research online, rather than a business with no online presence at all.
I’ve helped many businesses join the digital age, and this article will get you on the right path to increase your chances at success. Even if you have already begun your online migration, I suggest that you skim through my suggestions to make sure you have all the pieces and tools you need for your project.
Local Online Directories
If you’re looking to bring your business online, one of the quickest ways to do it is to submit to local directories, also known as citations. Citations are online directories of businesses that help people find you, even if you don’t have a website.
Whenever you search on Google Maps for a business, these results are actually citations in the Google My Business directory.
A few popular citations are:
Local businesses benefit the most from creating citations. For example, if you are a plumber and people are searching for plumbers in their area, then you may show up in their results. Even if you’re not a local business, you can still submit your office location to most directories. They’re still business directories, and they can lead people to your business.
Creating a Citation
It is free and easy to get listed on most local directories. First, search if your business is already listed. If it is, there is usually a link offering to “claim” the business. You will need to create a free account to claim your listing. If it is not listed, then look on the site for anything that mentions submitting your business or creating an account; the process is quick and simple on most sites.
Once you’ve created your account and claimed your business, they may require that you verify ownership. This is usually done one of two ways: they will call the phone number on your website if available, or they will send a postcard to the business address with a code. After you’ve verified ownership, you can update your business’ category, operating hours, phone number, and website.
Whitespark is a cool free tool to check what current citations you have. Whenever I have a new local business client, I always check for their existing citations to see which ones I should build to broaden their online presence.
Building a Website
Creating a website for your business is easier than ever these days. It’s not like the ’90s where you have to know how to code. Thankfully you will probably never know that a singular “;” in the wrong place can break the entire thing.
You can either build a website yourself or hire a freelancer to do it for you. If you want to do it yourself, there are two things you need to get started: a domain name and hosting.
The domain name is like the sign for your business. It is how people connect with you online. Projectmanager.com is an example of a domain name. Search Engine Journal does a fantastic job listing tips for choosing a domain name.
Hosting & Site Builders
Hosting is the space you rent online for your business, the server. There are many options of where you can host your website, but let’s not get too technical with that. Instead, you should probably look at easy site builders that will get your site created quickly and easily.
For a simple website for local businesses, I usually recommend the following:
They’re incredibly easy to use to create a stunning website without knowing code. For most small businesses, these tools are perfect for getting started. They usually also offer a free domain name for a year if you sign up for one of their plans. If you need to sell products on your website, checkout Shopify. It’s another website builder but it was created specifically for E-commerce.
If you have a website, then you absolutely need to have Google Analytics attached to it. Google Analytics gives you insight on your website visitors and how well your website and online reputation is growing. It’s a really powerful tool, and it surprises me how often a client doesn’t have it tracking traffic on their site.
You can use Google Analytics to see the following details about your visitors:
- How they found you (ex: Facebook or Google)
- What page(s) they visited
- How long they were on your site
- What device they were using
- Where they’re visiting from (city, state, country)
And if that’s not cool enough, it will also give you some incredible demographic information such as gender, age and things they’re interested in. Plus, it’s easy to export data to excel sheets for in-depth examination and reporting.
Setting Up Google Analytics
The process here will vary depending on how you created your website. In general, it’s very simple to install. Start by visiting the Google Analytics site, and sign up for a free account.
After answering a few basic questions, it will give you a piece of code to install on your website. If you used a website builder like Wix or Squarespace, you can find a place in the settings for your Google Analytics ID. Insert your ID and it’s installed for you.
If you used a different builder, check around the settings and options to see if there’s a place for Google Analytics. Most builders have an integration with analytics. If it does not, you can probably search their plugin directory to find something that will insert the analytics code.
Google Search Console
Another powerful free tool from Google is the Search Console. This will show you information about how your website is found on Google. It will tell you which search queries show your site in the results, what position your site is in for those queries, and how many people have clicked on your site.
The search feature is the most used feature in the Search Console. However, it does more than tell you what your site ranks for. It’s also very helpful in telling you how your site appears in Google or if there are any issues with your website. If a page isn’t showing in Google for some reason, you can usually find the reason within the Search Console.
Sign up for free on their site, and add your site. It will ask you to verify ownership of the website. If you have already added Google Analytics, then you can link that to your account and use that as verification. If you haven’t added Google Analytics, there are several other options such as installing a piece of code on your site or uploading a file.
Social Media Profiles
Yes, you do need to create your social media profiles even if you don’t plan to use all of them; it will help you, especially if you have a website. This is because when you create your profiles, you are able to create a link to your site, which is good. I’ve had clients that have no use for Pinterest because their demographic is not on the platform, but by creating the account, they had a new link pointing to their website which helps with SEO.
It also helps with reputation management. If, for some reason, someone is portraying themselves as your business on social media, you can point people to your official account. I usually have my social profiles in the header or footer of my sites so that it can “verify” that it is the official account.
Start with these profiles first:
- Facebook Page (also a citation)
There are countless other social platforms that you can sign up for, but these five are a good foundation. Plus they all allow you to link to your website and bolster your online visibility.
Creating your five social media accounts shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes. But if you would prefer, there are people that will do this for you. I’ve had people on Fiverr create these five, and more, for only $5.
Opportunity Awaits Online
Each of the tips above are optional when building your online presence. But if you want to set yourself up for success, I highly recommend that you do each of them. At the very least, claim your business on Google My Business if you haven’t already.
After you’ve done all of these, then you can work towards more advanced stuff like Facebook ad campaigns or email marketing.
If you’re taking your business online and trying to build an online presence, then you best take a great online tool with you. ProjectManager.com is cloud-based project management software that helps you harness the power of the internet to better manage your projects. Try it today with this free 30-day trial.