(This is a contributed post)
Okay, so we may not be there quite yet, but that is the way the world is going and, before long, our town centres will be made up of nothing more than charity shops, thrift stores and places you can go to place a bet. The point is: for small businesses, the online world is not just your salvation, it is your new storefront.
You now have a virtual store window and the opportunity to get your products or services in front of a global audience, which is amazing. But it’s not perfect. With it being easier than ever to set up an online store, and the competition being more fierce than a pack of rival sharks catching the scent of blood, you need to make sure your online presence is as good as it can possibly be.
It’s everything from knowing all about the latest Facebook updates to getting verified on Google, and all the simple little tricks and tips in between that will help your small business grow. Of course, we can’t just leave you with that so, to help you out, we’ve been and talked to some experts in the field of online presence and pulled together a list of easy ways you can improve your business’ online standing.
If you don’t have a website, then you are going to fail before you can shout jambalaya. If you don’t have a website that is mobile-optimised, you are a dead company walking. It’s just the way the world has gone. You might have an Etsy store, an eBay store, or you might be doing quite well on Amazon, it doesn’t matter. You need your own website and you need it to look as standout as this one (which will keep you reading through each page, trust us). Thankfully, Wix (and likes of) have made website designing accessible to even the most technophobic of people and they all come with a mobile version of the website as standard.
You know the realities of your business more than anyone else, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a very different illusion. After all, perception is reality, so what the eyes see and the ears hear the mind believes. That means creating a business profile on Google and making sure it has everything: a location, your hours, photos, links to your blog posts, services, email address and phone number. This may sound impossible because you are, well, strictly online, but you can still give off a more professional appearance. Create a virtual headquarters, hire a virtual assistant to man your virtual telephone, set up a business email and direct your mail to a PO Box. It’s all perfectly simple and wonderfully cheap and will give you an added edge over the competition.
While written content will always be king, the new wave of video content is proving a massive hit among both people and the Google ranking bots, which is probably why it commands such a huge percentage of all web traffic nowadays. There is no denying that Youtube is the go-to platform for video content and to have videos from Youtube embedded into your website is going to attract good attention from both people and search engines. However, the other social media platforms are now putting a lot more value on native videos. That is to say, videos uploaded directly to their sites. This is something Facebook is doing more and more. The reason we’re mentioning this is simple: uploading your original videos directly to Facebook will see you reach more people and get more views than if you just posted a YouTube link to your video content.
With your business operating online, you have to accept there is a trust issue that most physical businesses don’t have to worry about. You need to reinforce that you are a safe place to buy from and do business with, and there is no better way of reinforcing this than with real testimonials from people that have used your service before. It could be people raving about your service or it could be allowing feedback on each of your products. Either way, it will breed a sense of trust and loyalty that will set you apart from your competitors. To make this work really effectively, give people a reason to leave feedback, an incentive of some kind, and have links to people’s social media handles when they leave a testimonial so that people know they are real.