If your shop or small business currently has no online presence, or you’re looking to improve the online presence you do have, this guide will help you with the key elements to maximise your reach and customer acquisition.
1. Get a great website (or improve your current one)
Your website acts as the center point for all of your endeavours online. With that in mind, it’s imperative that your website looks beautiful and performs well. It will also need to be mobile responsive, fast to load and search engine friendly.
If you’re looking to sell products online, this can also be done directly on your website and means you can bypass fees that services such as eBay or Amazon would charge.
Of course, websites can be very pricey depending on your requirements and the web design company you decide to go with. To alleviate the large one-off cost that is typically attached to a new website, we offer very affordable bespoke websites on a no-contract, no setup fee, pay per month basis. To find out more, visit our pay monthly websites page.
2. Leverage search engines with a Google My Business listing
Local search engine optimisation (SEO) relies on Google My Business listings more than ever. If you haven’t got an accurate listing set up with the information of your business including the address, contact details, website and offered services/products, do so immediately!
Once your Google My Business listing has been created, your business will appear on Google Maps as well as within the Google Map search results. Additionally, you can also display information such as your opening times, etc, directly within the search engine.
Another benefit of Google My Business comes in the form of customer reviews, which can massively improve the amount of customers that your business receives (so long as the reviews are good!). More and more people tend to look up business reviews so this element should not be overlooked.
3. Gain some initial backlinks via free business directories
Simply put, a backlink is an external (not on your own website) link that goes through to your website.
Why are backlinks important? Because they help the search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc) determine which websites (and individual website pages) are more important than others.
There are many factors that form the search engine algorithms and these are constantly evolving, however backlinks have remained a vital aspect of search engine optimisation.
Now that we have established what backlinks are and why you need them, you can easily obtain some initial backlinks by creating business listings on a number of free directories such as Yell, Thomson Local, FreeIndex, Lacartes, Business Magnet, Cylex, Yelp, and the UK Small Business Directory.
Those aren’t all of the free directories, however getting your business on those will be a great start!
4. Create and maintain a blog on your website
Each unique blog post that you publish can be found and ranked by the search engines. If you’re a baker for example, you could write an article on how to create a specific type of cake. This article, once published, will likely be listed in search results a week or two later.
To maximise the search ranking of your blog posts, they have to be unique, informative and well formatted. There are many factors at play when it comes to on-site and off-site search engine optimisation, but getting into all of them simply isn’t possible within this article.
Don’t be intimidated by SEO though! Over the years, the search algorithms have become more and more intelligent, placing a higher emphasis on good content instead of gimmicky tactics. Focus on producing the best blog content possible and the search engines will do the rest!
5. Grow your online presence by developing social media accounts
It is well known that social media marketing is among the best ways to drive traffic to your website and generate sales.
However, the various social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc) are now massively saturated with businesses looking to gain new customers. Which can make it extremely difficult to stand out to your desired audience.
Just creating a profile on these various platforms won’t bring any benefit to your business. Instead, you’ll need to provide value in some form to your followers. Nevertheless, however you decide to provide value is completely up to you.
Perhaps you want to provide educational content on Twitter (you can link your new blog articles in Tweets), or maybe posting visually interesting images to Instagram is more your style.
Social media marketing is a very, very broad subject so we’re unable to cover even a portion of it in this article. If you’d like somewhere to get started however, check out our guide on how to get Twitter followers.
Additionally, see the below chart for more information on which social media channels will be ideal for your business!
6. Capture customer emails and build a list
Email Marketing may not be as effective as it once was, but it’s still a great way to provide your customers with news, promotions and the like.
You can begin to build an email list by signing up to MailChimp (it’s free but requires an account upgrade when you reach certain criteria) and creating a list. You’ll then be able to add your customers to this list yourself (with their permission!), or you can put a newsletter sign-up form onto your website that will allow customers to sign-up themselves.
It’s important to note that you don’t want to spam your email subscribers with sales material. As with most online marketing these days, be authentic and offer value! Your customers will appreciate this and return the favour.
7. Setup and monitor Google Analytics
Google Analytics isn’t a super secret tool, far from it, but it’s important for us to highlight it within this guide. It’s vitally important that you have it set up and linked to your website!
Analysing the various and extensive data provided by Google Analytics will help you to understand your audience, find out what works and what doesn’t, improve conversion rates, reduce bounce rates (a bounce is when somebody immediately leaves your website) and ultimately improve how effective your website is.
Have a look through the many different areas of Google Analytics such as the Audience Overview section that collates many of the most important pieces of data from the other Audience tab options.
You can also check out the Acquisition Overview section to see the various traffic sources for your website. There is even a Real-Time section of Google Analytics that allows you to see how many people are currently on your website!
We hope that you gained some real value from this guide! If you’re looking for more useful information, check out our Resources Blog Category.