With so many ways to advertise a business in 2020, it can be difficult to know which options to spend your time on. Gone are the days where you could place one advertisement in the Yellow Pages and be guaranteed a regular stream of local customers.
Today, the concept of Yellow Pages hasn’t disappeared, it’s just changed names. Now, instead of getting out the phonebook, over 90% of Australians (Source: ABC News) begin their online journey with Google Search.
So, how can businesses get found on Google without spending hours online? Here are five easy tips to increase the visibility of any business online.
1. Set up a Google My Business Page
The first tip here is to give Google all the information about your business. And you can do this by creating a Google account and claiming your Google My Business profile.
Setting up a Google My Business (GMB) profile is the fastest and easiest way to get any local business onto the first page of Google search results.
It’s free, takes less than 10 minutes to get started and within a few short weeks, your GMB profile will be competing against other rivals in your chosen category for local ranking positions.
And with the average Australian business receiving over 1000 views every month (Source: Bright Local), setting up a free Google My Business profile is the cheapest way to advertise in 2019.
2. Create Business Profiles
If you don’t have a website, don’t panic. Your business can still be found on Google, as long as you are regularly doing something online. That’s why the second tip here is to create business profiles on websites such as Facebook and Yellow Pages (now that they have retired the annual phonebook).
Profiles on different websites trigger all-important engagement signals which tell Google that your business is still active. Engagement signals arrive in the form of a like on a Facebook post, comment on LinkedIn or a customer review and are all factors that Google uses to compare similar businesses.
An added bonus from each profile is the ability for businesses to link to their website which increases their online presence and can drive additional traffic.
As a minimum in Australia, every business should be developing a profile on websites such as:
- True Local
- Yellow Pages
- And any relevant Industry websites such as TripAdvisor, Booking.com or RateMyAgent.
By keeping the number of profiles small and manageable, businesses can develop large followings on each which helps to consistently trigger those engagement signals.
3. Collect Customer Reviews
According to an annual survey of experts conducted by Moz (Local Ranking Factors 2018), online customer reviews are now the third largest ranking factor for getting found on Google.
How can Businesses Collect More Customer Reviews?
By developing a template that can build reviews gradually such as this 4-Step example:
Step 1: Create Review Links
Review Links make it easier to direct customers to your review pages. Google has recently made this easier with the introduction of the Shortname feature. The Shortname allows businesses to create a branded link that directs customers straight to their Google My Business listing. As the name suggests, it’s also short enough to insert into texts and emails.
Step 2: Write a Script
Here’s where you write a message that is short, friendly and generic enough to send to your customers. Ideally, your script is short enough to fit inside an SMS with the link so that you can use multiple channels to send them.
Step 3: Send Review Request
The third step is to send your customers an email or text with both the short script and a review link within a week of the transaction. This catches your customers with the experience still fresh in their minds, which often leads to juicy reviews that mention your products and services.
Step 4: Respond to Reviews
The final step is to respond to all of your reviews in a professional manner, including any negative feedback. Almost 90% of customers read the businesses’ responses to a review and for Google, it means that you are listening to your customers and that you care about providing a quality service.
Most small businesses don’t have a review plan in place which is crazy in this modern age. Not only do reviews build your reputation online, but they are also the easiest way for customers to compare you against local rivals.
4. Develop and Maintain a Website
Never has there been a better time to start and build a new website. In 2019, customers are comfortable with visiting websites from smaller businesses and nowadays, they probably expect one.
And there are now plenty of options available and from around $150 per year to operate they are also much more affordable. Whichever platform you choose, if you want a Google-friendly website you will want to have these options available:
- Ability to embed a Google Map.
- Option to add contact details to the footer of each page.
- Mobile responsiveness (for mobile devices).
- And a sitemap for Google to read.
The purpose of any business website is to convert those customers who are looking for one final question to be answered. Therefore it will help to upload plenty of photos and/or videos about your business and to create a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions page.
Most importantly, a website provides Google information about your business and how you will serve their customers better than your competitors.
For more tips about websites, have a look at these five strategies from Sophorn Chhay at Inboundo.
5. Build Local Links
Another lesser-known strategy for improving a local business online is to build relationships with other websites in your local area. When multiple websites in one community link towards each other, Google will often rank both websites higher for relevant local search queries.
For example, if a local coffee shop and a nearby hairdresser exchange links, both will help each other to rank higher when competing with other businesses in their niche.
Here are a few ideas that can help build a few local links towards your business website:
- Sponsor a local sporting club or non-profit organisation.
- Network with other local businesses by joining a local chamber of commerce.
- Register your business in the local council directory.
- Run a promotion with several other businesses and link to each other’s websites.
- Write and post articles on your website that are relevant to other local businesses.
When it comes to building local links from within your community, it will often require some monetary or time investment. Even so, it’s always nice to give back to the people who support your business the most.
These 5 tips will help any business increase their chances of being found on Google. And unlike the old Yellow Pages, it takes consistent effort to prove that your business is offering value to its searching customers.
But it’s worth it. Where else can you advertise your business for free to 9 out of 10 Australians?
For more tips on what SEO strategies ‘to do’ check out these recent Marketing.com.au articles:
- Local SEO Guide for Growing Your Business
- How to Perform a Local SEO Audit All By Yourself
- 4 Powerful Mistakes to Avoid in Digital Marketing