5 Ways to Give Your Online Presence a Boost in One Afternoon
How you present your business across various online channels – like your website, social media, and other listings sites – is a critical part of your business’s long-term success. This is what many experts in the industry call “online presence.” Building a consistent online presence across the web is the only way – really! – potential customers will find your business, land on your website, or determine if the products or services you offer are right for them.
Just having a presence online is no longer enough. Today’s consumers move fast. When they search for a local business, from housekeeping to lawn care services (and everything in between), they are in a ready-to-buy mindset. Everything about your online presence needs to help them make a purchase decision as quickly as possible.
However, if your website is slow or not yet mobile-ready, you will likely lose their attention within seconds. If you haven’t optimized your website content with the appropriate meta-tags, your business may never organically reach the top of the search results page. And, even worse, if the information about your business is inconsistent from one listing to another, there’s a good chance you’ll never even be given the opportunity to earn a consumer’s trust.
Truth is, maintaining a consistent and accurate online presence takes time, energy, and a lot of attention to detail. Fortunately, there are a number of simple things you can do that can give your online presence a noticeable boost over time. Here are five ideas to get you moving in the right direction. But don’t worry, if you can’t dedicate an afternoon to tackle your online presence – after all, you are busy running your business – just add one new task to your to-do list each week.
Audit Your Business Listings
Your business listings have a significant impact on whether or not consumers can find your business. “Each new listing you create increases your chances of being found by customers,” according to MOZ. “At the same time, many of the local business indexes share data with each other. Thus, the more places you’re listed and the more visible you are, the more these indexes trust the accuracy of your business data – increasing your chances of ranking well in local searches.”
There are two afternoon-worthy things you can do to make your online presence shine: 1) audit current listings and/or 2) add new listings.
Misinformation from one listing to the other – or information that doesn’t match with your website – will hurt your ranking. Google wants to see the same business details (phone number, website, address, etc.) across every listing. This helps search engines determine which listings are legitimate versus which are spam or fraud.
If you’ve lost track of your listings or are simply unsure where your business has been listed (because, remember, anonymous sources sometimes create listings without your consent), handy and free presence scan tools can give a bird’s eye view onto your online presence and allow you to manage the content related to practically all of your listings from one, simple dashboard.
Then, once all your sites are up-to-date, consider adding a few new listings to your mix. Start by considering all of the free options available, including: Yelp, Google, Facebook, YP, Dex Pages, Super Pages, Manta, City Search, and Bing (for starters). It’s also worth considering getting your business listed on industry-specific listings sites (the range of sites available will vary based on your business) in order to reach more of those ready-to-buy consumers.
You may also want to see what the competition is up to by doing a general search for your type of business in your local area (i.e. if you run a computer repair store in Los Angeles, you would search for: “computer store Los Angeles” or “laptop repair Los Angeles”). See where your competitors are listed; you want to be listed there, too. After all, it will put your business squarely where consumers are already searching.
Check Your Page Speed
Do you know the loading speed of your website (in other words, how long it takes for a page to load)? Assessing and addressing this is a great use of your time because 47 percent of consumers expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less. If your site takes longer than that to load, you put yourself at the immediate risk of losing customers. Even worse, it could give people the wrong idea: a slow-running site equates to a slow-running business. And if your competitor’s site loads in 1.5 seconds, you might as well consider yourself toast. No consumer today has the patience to wait.
Use PageSpeed Insights from Google to run a test. If your results return as “Poor” or “Needs Work,” speak to your developer immediately to discuss your options. In many cases, small changes can make a big difference.
If you don’t have an in-house developer, consider using services like UpWork to find an expert who can do this as a one-time project for you.
Update Meta Tags
One of the best ways to get found online is to have your meta tags in order. This is part of that thing you’ve heard a lot about called search engine optimized (SEO). These meta tags tell search engines what your site and business is about as well as what each page contains. This information allows search engines to index and serve your site to more people searching for the products or services you offer.
The two most important pieces of metadata are:
Meta title: This describes the page. If you own an e-commerce website with individual pages dedicated to every product you sell, then each page should have its own meta title to describe the product offered. The format goes something like this:
Primary Keyword, Secondary Keyword | Brand Name
Example: Leather Shoes Retailer San Diego | Bob’s Shoes
Meta description: Whenever you do a search, you probably have noticed that there’s always a short description immediately under each link in the search results page. Those are “meta descriptions.” Now, you could always just leave it up to the search engines to pull the first bits of copy from your website on their own to fill in this blank, but why leave it to chance? Create a meta description for each page that will help searchers choose your business over others on the search results page. (Hint: a poorly written meta description could very well drive consumers away!)
Hubspot’s got a few tips for writing a great meta description. It should be:
Benefit- or solutions-focused
Short (155 characters or less)
By now you’re probably wondering, “So, where can I update my meta tags?” Glad you asked. This information is stored in the HTML code of your site, but you don’t need to be tech-savvy to be able to make these updates. One of the easiest ways to update your meta tags on your own is by installing a WordPress plugin like Advanced Meta Tag Management, which will walk you through the process and deploy the metadata correctly. You can also use tools like SEO Yoast, which allows you to add metadata to your entire site in addition to each blog post entry within the blog post editor.
Publish a New Blog Post
Speaking of blog posts, you probably didn’t realize all of the benefits that a blog can have on strengthening your online presence. They help build you up as an authority in your industry, drive traffic to your site, and give search engines more pages to index (i.e. more pages indexed means more content consumers can find whenever doing a search for your products or services).
If you’ve found it tough to commit to writing blog posts regularly for your business blog, then set aside a couple hours each week to write, edit, and publish one. By making this activity a regular part of your day-to-day schedule, you’re more likely to ensure that your blog never sits idly on the back burner. And don’t worry if you (think you) are a novice writer. Start small by writing short 500-600 word posts, alongside relevant images, videos, and other rich content. The goal is to create content that encourages readers to take an action; when they do, search engines will start to give you a bit of a boost in your rankings. (See, it all comes full circle!)
The key to a successful blog post is choosing a topic that: is related to your business, showcases your industry expertise, and is something you truly are passionate about. To boost your SEO, use the Google Keyword Tool to find a keyword that will help your content rise to the top of the search results page. Look for keywords that have a high search volume. Competition, from a keyword standpoint, doesn’t matter as much when it comes to publishing blog posts. Running digital advertising is an entirely separate beast (and something we’ll save for another blog post!).
Just make sure that the keyword you choose for any given blog post is in the title and URL of your post, along with the meta title, meta description, and body copy. (Pro-Tip: Don’t overdo this as “keyword stuffing” can negatively impact rankings.)
Test New Product Copy
Who doesn’t love a little Spring cleaning, right? Well, truth be told, your website and listings do, too! A great way to perk up your content is to give product text, product descriptions, or product titles a bit of a refresh. Tackle the lowest performing products or pages on your site first, as new content could be just what the doctor ordered to start selling or driving traffic again.
Now, mind you, it’s easy to get carried away with this. Resist the temptation to go overboard. The goal here is to see what specific changes make a measurable difference, so be sure to change just one thing at a time. If you change both the headline text and the product description, for example, you won’t know which change can be directly attributed to a change in sales or traffic.
The most important part of all this is to stay super organized. Be sure to track all changes and document results so you can see what’s working versus what’s not. You can do this in a simple spreadsheet, including information like the date the change was made, what specific change was made, pre-change data (traffic, sales, etc.), and post-change data. Just know that you may not see a big difference in results overnight. Give your changes 3-4 weeks to marinate, then check back to see if any positive (or, hopefully not, negative) trends have stemmed from these changes.
Your Afternoon Line-Up
Boosting your online presence isn’t as complicated or time-consuming as you may think. You can make a world of difference on how well your business is at being found by consumers online by setting aside one afternoon – even if it’s over the course of a few weeks – to tackle a few simple tasks that can have a long-term positive impact. When you start to see an uptick in traffic and sales, you’ll be glad you put in the time and effort to make your business shine online. And who knows, you may love the results so much that dedicating some time every week to focus on your online presence could become addictive and, dare I say, fun! (I’ll leave it to you to decide!)