We’re set to help as many businesses grow this year as possible. The theme is to tackle one of the biggest problems most entrepreneurs face: How to work “ON” your business, not just “IN” your business and to start the series we’re sharing advice on how to improve your small business’s online presence.
What do we mean?
Let’s say you’re an extraordinary chef running a restaurant, cafe or food-truck. The time you spend making and selling food is time spent working “IN” your business. Time spent planning how to get more customers or reduce your business costs is time spent working “ON” your business.
With only 2 hands and 24 hours in a day, it can be difficult to do both. But not impossible. The first step is to follow a plan and have a checklist in place that can help speed up the process and avoid unnecessary stumbling about.
To start you off we’re going to focus on “How your customers find you online”. There are a few simple things you can do to increase the number of people who know about you and the likelihood they will buy from you.
Online Presence Step 1: Get a website or tidy up your existing website.
If someone is looking for your business online and they can’t find it, or they find a website that doesn’t answer any of their questions, then chances are you’ve lost a potential sale.
Whether you have a website or are building a new one, make sure you have these vital pieces of information:
- A description of who you are and what you offer.
- Why people should buy your products or use your services.
- Where people can find you and when you’re open.
- How people can contact you (email, phone, smoke signals).
Additional nice to haves:
- Testimonials from existing customers
- Photo galleries
Quick tip: Keep your website clean and simple. It’s tempting to want something with fancy animations and effects but in the long run those sites will cost more money, more time and be harder to keep up to date.
Our favourite platforms for small business websites are:
Online Presence step 2: Level up your social media game
The biggest role that social media actually plays for a small business is that it creates trust through social proof and shows you’re still running. Reality is, there are a lot of ‘businesses’ out there that are not trustworthy and even more small businesses that shut down after a year or two. This has lead people to be skeptical when searching for products and services, so an up to date profile goes a long way.
If a customer looks for you on Facebook and they see that you don’t have a page or that the last time you posted was 6 months ago, they will assume you’ve gone out of business (little do they know you’re so busy with orders piling up you don’t have time for social media).
Improve your online presence by using social media to increase trust. Here are a few guidelines to follow:
- Post 1 – 2 times per week so people can see you’re active.
- Stick to plain clear photos of your business and products taken in good lighting. Avoid playing designer in Microsoft Paint unless you know what you’re doing. If you want something designed (for free) try Canva.
- Check your spelling and grammar. Use a platform like Grammarly to make sure no mistakes slip through.
- Fill out all your details in ‘about’ sections and keep them up to date.
- Share testimonials from existing customers.
- Put on a smile and post a photo or two of the people behind the business (aka you). Untrustworthy businesses are less likely to post photos of themselves so this will help reassure people that you can be trusted.
Quick Tip: You don’t have to be on every social platform. Rather take the time to figure out which platform(s) your customers use and focus on those.
Online presence step 3: Sorting out your search results
If someone searches for your business name, what do they find? If there is nothing there or if a different business with the same name is at the top, take the following steps:
a.) Check out “Google My Business”
‘Google my business’ is where you can add your location to Google maps as well as your opening hours and website. Customers will also be able to add reviews about your business here.
b.) Check your title and meta description
Your title and meta description make up the copy that shows when people search for you on Google. When you create your website you will be able to edit this. If you don’t manually edit this, it will simply pull copy directly from your website.
To improve your meta tags follow these tips:
- In the title: State your business name and short description or top benefits offered.
- Keep your description below 160 words to avoid sentences being cut off.
- This small description is an advert for your website – will it make people click?
- Each page on your website needs a unique meta title and description.
For more help with Meta Tags read this article.
Taking your online presence from non-existent to solid does not have to take tons of time or effort. The key is to make sure everything is accurate and to keep things fresh by adding new content whenever you can. Lastly, don’t be afraid to have a bit of fun. This is your chance to give your business more personality and share it with the world.
We’ll give you more advice over the next few months to help you work “ON” your business, not just “IN” it, so watch this space! While you’re at it, check out our social presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.