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5 Easy Things To Make Your Website Better Now

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Do you ever wonder if there are things YOU can do to make your website better aka more beneficial to your company — things that actually move the needle? Of course you do. After all, your website is really the sharpest knife in your marketing arsenal. But, if you are not taking care of the fundamentals, that knife begins to get dull and eventually won’t cut hot butter. In internet speak, Google stops paying attention to it, and no one will ever know that it exists.

Take hold! There are some things you can do right now, not necessarily TO your website, but in support of it. And, you can do these things without the hands-on help of a professional. Here they are, in no particular order.

google my business

MAKE SURE YOUR GOOGLE MY BUSINESS PAGE IS COMPLETE

I can’t emphasize this one enough. The Google My Business site is a freebie and a very important factor in your off-page SEO strategy. Google likes your business to be registered on its search platform. The problem is, nearly 55% of all businesses haven’t even claimed their site — what?! Over half of the businesses out there are missing out on a free traffic generator, a place to describe their business, tell people when they’re open, how to get in touch, and other pertinent details you may want customers and prospects to know. The best part about it is that it’s Google. They own search, so you don’t have to try very hard to make sure your My Business page shows up.

There is another key element here. Just claiming your page is not enough. Google has a number of steps — all pretty painless, and they will guide you — to fully-populate the page including things like, contact info, location, hours, services, products, photos, special events, and more. If there is one thing you can do right now, today, it is to make sure that you have claimed the site for your business and that the profile is complete.

And, there’s an added bonus. Once your Google My Business page is populated with all of the pertinent data, you get a nice listing on Google Maps as well. Local search is the magic bullet to increasing sales and building loyalty.

Last, you may venture to Google, search your business, and find that Google already has a listing for your business. This is not uncommon if you’ve been around for a while. They sometimes aggregate data from other sites and you just show up by default, or someone may actually do it for you. This is not enough! Make sure that you have claimed your business site and that you own, and can add/modify the related data.

ask for reviews

ASK FOR REVIEWS

Why not? Reviews drive internet commerce and they make a HUGE difference in the perception of your business. This can be tricky though. No reviews at all are better than bad reviews, so the Captain Obvious point here is to not do anything that may motivate someone to give you a less-than-flattering review. As long as you can stay in the 4-5 star range, you’re golden. We have all become savvy enough to know a few things about online reviews. 1) it is impossible to please all of the people all of the time. 2) unhappy customers are more motivated to leave a review than happy ones… go figure. And, 3) it’s most often out of our control to rectify a bad review, at least quickly, and that review is indelible on the internet unless the reviewer takes the time to change it.

Now, for a few tips that may help you in the online review world.

If you want to make sure that you are getting reviewed online, give your customers a place to do it. Make sure that you have your Google My Business page clean and ready. Reviews on Google mean a lot because they almost always show up in search results and it’s not likely a prospective customer is going to hurry to your business if they see a glaring 2-star rating adjacent to your business name in search results. Regardless of the reason, we’ve just become conditioned that way.

Here is some sound advice. It’s not scientific and it’s merely my opinion. DO NOT REPLY TO BAD REVIEWS IN DEFENSE OF YOUR BUSINESS. I skim Google reviews often and am appalled by the number of business owners who chase down every poor review with a snarky reply. I understand you want to defend your business, but if you are getting multiple bad reviews, the problem is not with the reviewers. Rather than chase them down on Google and reply as to why their perception is just wrong, look within and fix whatever the problem is. If your review profile is good overall, and you happen to receive a poor review because someone just had a bad experience, respond with a simple apology to the reviewer and tell them that is not a typical experience but you hope you’ll have the opportunity to make it better during their next visit. The idea is to not defend the bad review and certainly not yell at the reviewer. No business is perfect and we all make mistakes. Apologize and move on, at most. Do not write a diatribe as to why, and especially don’t blame the reviewer for having a bad experience. Their perception is the reality in this case.

Moving on… other sites matter too. The other top review sites like YelpFacebookAmazon (if you’re an online retailer), BBBAngie’s ListMantaFoursquare, and even YellowPages all matter. In fact, if you haven’t set up your business profile on these sites, do it now! The vast majority of the ones listed are free to set up a basic profile. They will bug you to pay for a premium listing after the fact, but it’s not mandatory. BBB doesn’t allow you to set up a profile — it happens over time based on other data they collect. There are multiple sites calling themselves YellowPages. Ones like B2B Yellow Pages are free. As of this writing, I do not believe the original Dex version is free.

There are other benefits to setting up your business profile on third-party directory sites — SEO! By creating backlinks on well-established business directory sites, you immediately get a backlinks on most of them. In other words, your off-page SEO is bolstered by the fact that another well-established page is linking back to your site. There are a couple of caveats here that some will say matter a lot, like: the backlink may rank better than your site for SERPs if your site is newer. So what! The fact is, the name of your business will be ranking higher in search results, and that’s really what you want. You can worry about where your site ranks over time.

So, to the point of this tip — that is, asking for reviews.

Once you’ve created your business profiles on the select sites, ask your customers for a good review. It’s likely, especially if you know them personally (oddly enough) that they haven’t reviewed your business online. Here are some pointers:

For someone who comes into your business and makes a positive comment, you can say something like this:

“that is really nice to hear. We try very hard and appreciate you taking a moment to provide your feedback. It means a lot to us. You know, those positive comments really help prospective customers find us and feel comfortable visiting our business. If you write what you said in a quick review online (on Google for instance), that would be so helpful.”

Most people will actually take the time to do it soon after because most people want to help when asked.

To reach people who follow you on social media or from your email list, you can do something like this:

“As one of our special customers, your feedback is very important to us. We try very hard to provide an ideal experience for our customers, and your input literally helps us to define that. If you would be so kind as to take a couple of minutes to post a review on (whichever site or sites you’re targeting), we would so appreciate it. We hope to see you again very soon!”

A very helpful hint here for online requests is to provide the link in your message. For instance, if you are asking for a review on Google, a link is provided to make that easy for your customers. You can usually find a card on your My Business profile site that says something like Get More Reviews. It will provide you with a custom URL to get your customers right on it. The URL looks something like this: https://g.page/delegal-digital/review?gm and we would love it if you would give us a great review too!

So, don’t be shy. If you provide a valuable service to your customers, ask them to take a moment to let others know about you. Again, most people want to help, and they will if prompted.

facebook groups

JOIN FACEBOOK GROUPS

This is another much-overlooked way to gain visibility to your business. For example, if you own a cafe or bakery, search Facebook for sites run by baking enthusiasts or coffee aficionados. Join in the conversation and contribute meaningfully, using your expertise as a business owner to add content to the group that others will either learn from or appreciate. This doesn’t mean to join the group and immediately start plastering the group with ads for your latest specials. Unless the group specifically states that it is a marketplace or promotion group, be cognizant of how you approach the members. Be conversational. If you offer something meaningful to the group that is relevant to your business, perfect. Like, “several of you have mentioned difficultly in finding Ethiopian Fine that only grows in one rain forest on mounds of monkey poop. Check us out if you’re in the neighborhood, we have it in stock!” You get the idea.

It’s pretty easy to find the groups that are relevant to you industry. Just go to the Facebook Groups site, or do a search on Facebook , and when the results appear, filter them by clicking on the Groups tab. For instance, if you want to find all of the groups related to tourism in Savannah, just type “tourism savannah”, filter the results, and it’s likely you will find several relevant groups that you can join and to which you can contribute your expertise.

hashtags

INSTAGRAM HASHTAGS

There is much confusion around Instagram in the business world. With over a billion users, many business owners are still a little confused as to how they might leverage Instagram as a tool for growth. I believe the reason is that many business owners think transactionally and Instagram is not transactional, at all. In fact, in terms of online promotion, it is one of the longest games out there akin to starting organic SEO from scratch. But, there are steps you can take today to get started.

If you are at all familiar with Instagram, you know that it’s a visual content platform — posts are centered around images and short-form video rather than social commentary and community like Facebook. That makes the game much different than many other social platforms. It requires a different approach, but an even more different expectation.

From a business perspective, Instagram is a great tool for interest and brand-building. It can give you a platform for sharing your business visually with other users who share an interest in your space. I’ll use the cafe scenario again. Open Instagram and search #coffee. You’ll see millions of results, a vast number consisting of beautiful images of coffee drinks, cafe goods, people drinking coffee, coffee being harvested, etc. Now, as a business-minded transactional thinker, your inclination might be to jump into that fray and post an image with your latest coffee special using the coffee hashtag — stop! That’s not what’s at play here.

If you have a great barista that makes a perfect latte with a mil portrait of Aristotle on top, that’s your content. Take a picture, use the hashtags #latte, #coffee, #cafe, #baristaart, #Aristotle, and maybe a few related to your community, neighborhood, or hood. Create a clever one-liner to go with your hashtags, and post it tagging your location. You’re in the Instagram game! But, don’t expect customers to come running. This is a long game that allows you to show others that you care about what you do, do it well, and softly promote your brand at the same time.

While Instagram may be the least transactional element of your digital strategy, it is a core pillar of the social element and over time will allow you to build a loyal group of admirers.

In order to do this effectively, do a little research before you get started. Find posts on Instagram that interest you (that are related to your business), review the posts that stand out, see which hashtags they are using, and select the hashtags that are most applicable to your content. Instagram will inform you how many posts have been made using any particular hashtag. This is incredibly invaluable, and unless you are a tastemaker or heavy influencer already, use mainstream hashtags. If all of your posts have hashtags that you made up (ex: #aristotlecoffeemilkart), no one will ever see your posts because most people search hashtags, location, or follow feeds of those they already admire.

Hopefully, this will get give you some motivation to look at Instagram as a tool for your business.

start a blog

START A BLOG

It’s almost 2020. If you are a business owner and you aren’t creating content, you are missing the train as it passes by. A few “hopefullys” to preface here. Hopefully, your business has a website complete with a unique URL/domain, and I’m not talking about a Facebook page. Hopefully, you, or whoever designed your site, made provisions to manage content so that it can stay alive and change as the business grows. And hopefully, you care enough about your business to want to talk about it by either writing or having someone else write, about it.

I’m trying to stay off of my soapbox here, but a website is not a billboard. Although, some billboards are better than many websites. At least billboard companies got smart a decade or so ago and realized that even billboard content needs to change to be interesting. So, they designed the LED billboard that not only allows dynamic change of advertising (or content) but allows them to sell to more than one advertiser at a time. If your website is a one-and-done static billboard for your business, you lose. No one will visit, no one will refer, and most likely, no one will even find it.

If you don’t have a blog, start one today. Here are some steps you can take If your website doesn’t support blogging (call me soon), or worse, your business doesn’t have a website at all (call me right away). Go to a free blogging platform and start there. A few blogging platforms to consider in no order of greatness:

Medium — this platform allows limited posts (3 per day I believe) but very easy to get started. As of this writing, they do not strip backlinks and anything you write there could have the potential to point interested readers back to your website. The reason I specified this is because many business writing platforms do strip out (or do not refer) backlinks to Google for search value.

WordPress.com — This is different than WordPress.org, the WordPress product site. WordPress is likely the most ubiquitous blogging platform in that WordPress sites power nearly 35 percent of the internet, and over half of all sites built on a content management (CMS) platform. The other benefit here might be learning and familiarity. If you don’t have a site or one that supports blogging, you probably should, and maybe will, down the road. Chances are it could be a WordPress site, so learning how to blog on WordPress.com will give you a very familiar learning path for when you do make the transition. There is also some possibility that a developer would be able to easily migrate posts you make here to your WordPress site in the future.

LinkedIn  — If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you probably should, if for no other reason than to give you additional visibility and searchability online. Once you build a professional profile on LinkedIn, you can start posting and creating articles there. This wasn’t always the case in that LinkedIn only allowed “influencers” access to their writing platform. Now anyone can do it. What this gets you, if nothing else, is practice. I believe LinkedIn has outlived its purpose although recruiters use it daily, and that’s where the company makes money. But, the writing platform is easy, streamlined, and allows you to create content and tie it directly to your professional profile. The content is searchable on LinkedIn, but I am told they do strip backlinks to the dismay of many. They do not explicitly say this other than likely in some buried fine print.

DO SOMETHING TODAY (AND TOMORROW)

It’s not rocket science. Digital strategy is just that, strategy. That implies that it takes time. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t do things today to improve your position online. Organic SEO takes time, but if I put it off, how much longer will it take? The five tasks outlined above won’t solve your online challenges — and, don’t say you don’t have any. But, they are steps you can start right now. If you don’t have a Google My Business profile, that’s something that will take you 15-30 minutes to complete. If it’s there but not complete, maybe even less time. Searching Facebook Groups for relevance to your business, or more importantly your customers, is a few minutes. Just get started somewhere. Make this a part of your weekly workflow. Carve out an hour every week to work on just these things and you’ll be astonished over time how they will make a difference.

If you are challenged by your online strategy, need a fresh new design for your website, need help attracting customers online, or just have some questions about what you should be doing, give us a call at 912-236-6003 or drop us a line. Even if you don’t know what you don’t know, that’s fine too. We love talking with businesses about how they can use digital technology to get better. Delegal Digital is all about helping people.

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