As a web designer/developer, I work with business owners from all different types of industries every day to manage their websites and online platforms. Many of my clients own businesses with a physical location (i.e., bricks and mortar businesses) but they don’t want to rely solely on foot traffic or word of mouth. Instead, they want potential clients or customers to be able to “find” their businesses online. Having a website that shows up in desired search results involves many different factors, but there are some basic steps you can take today if you’re starting from square one.
The first step is to make sure your business has a new or updated website that works across all devices through responsive design. You can either build a website on your own if you have the technical skills or hire out a web designer/developer to complete the project.
Once you’ve got your website up and running, it’s time to make sure that potential clients can find it. Here are three strategies you can start with today:
1. Optimize Your Website for SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) isn’t a quick fix but it’s essential if you want your website to be found online. To begin, make sure that all of your website images/graphics are properly named and that website content naturally includes keywords related to your business. SEO can be quite complex but there are a lot of basic elements that you can complete even if you are new to this area – simply find an online guide or checklist and start working on SEO fixes today.
2. Secure Quality Backlinks to Your Website
Backlinks are any link to your website that comes from someone else’s website. Search engines (like Google or Bing) will evaluate backlinks to your website and will reward you with higher rankings if you have a lot of relevant and high-quality backlinks. Securing quality backlinks is a great way to build business and brand awareness, recognition, and also improve your reputation with online audiences.
But before you start posting your website’s URL all around the internet there’s a few things you need to know. First off, Google and other search engines will take into account if you have paid for backlinks and will penalize you for it if you’re trying to pass it off as genuine backlinks. If you’re ever tempted to pay for backlinks to your website, know that it’s discouraged and that you should really consider why you’re leaning towards that style of marketing. It may harm your website more than it helps it.
That said, it takes work to secure quality backlinks since you either have to ask for them or put in a bit of work to get them. As a local business, this is worth your time and should not be overlooked. Here are a few suggestions of ways you can get backlinks to your business’ website:
- Local Awards: think about your city’s “Best of” lists and see how you can get your business included or nominated. Most of the time, all nominees and winners will get a backlink so this is a great place to start.
- Product Manufacturers: If your business stocks any products, make sure that you’re listed on the manufacturer/distributor’s website. This also works if you use a particular software or online service.
- Local Business Directories: Make a list of any Chambers of commerce, neighborhood organizations, trade organizations, local business improvement groups, etc., and get your business listed on their websites.
3. Local Search Tools
If you want potential clients to find you online, your business should be included in local business listing websites. In general, your business needs to meet certain criteria in order to “claim” a listing:
- Have a business name
- Have a local business phone number (i.e., not a 1-800 or shared number)
- Have a physical address (i.e., not just a PO box)
- Must physically meet with customers and not do business solely online
A few local search tools that you can get your business listed on today are Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook business pages. By doing this, you’re making sure that your business has a wider online reach which makes it easier for you to be found online.
For most businesses, it’s not enough to open shop and hope that customers walk through the door. You will have to attract them and spread the word about your business if you want to get customers or secure clients. Having a strong online profile for your business is important no matter what industry you’re in and with a little time and effort, you can set yourself apart from competitors. By making sure that your business is easily found online, you’ll be able to expand your customer base and improve your business.