You know how important your website is to the success of your small business. It gives visitors a chance to get to know you, learn about your product or service, and facilitates the sales process. You have put a lot of effort into making sure it provides an engaging visitor experience, and that’s why you want as many people as possible visiting it. It’s included in all of your advertising, public relations and marketing materials, of course, but how do you create more awareness without spending any additional money?
The internet has many opportunities available to represent your business online, if you know how to use them wisely. They cost nothing but your time, but could have a big impact on the number of prospective customers who get a chance to find out more about your company. In addition to your website and social media presence, spend some time working on your online citations and website links. These are two related concepts which involve taking proactive steps to help amplify your online presence.
Citations include any mention of your contact details on the web. This might be in local directories and reference sources where prospects might search for companies in a specific geographic area that provide a particular service. Look at applicable opportunities like Yelp, MapQuest, Citysearch, 411.com, Yahoo, Google search and Google My Business, Bing Local, Angie’s List, LocalPages.com, YellowPages.com, Local.com, local databases and TripAdvisor to see if they make sense for your business, and then make sure they have your correct information. This makes potential customers aware of your business when they visit these sites, helps in pinpointing a geographic location, and also increases your potential of being included in search results if they just Google a certain topic.
Links, on the other hand, are online listings which bring visitors to a specific page on your website. Although a citation might include a home page link, here are other ways to generate these crucial connections.
• Just Ask: Search for your company name to see if there are any other websites that mention you. Contact them and ask if they could include a link, if they are not already doing so, and give them a few keyword ideas they can use, such as “Italian restaurant in Buffalo” or “cleaning service in Toledo.”
• Be Helpful: Make sure your own website is full of useful information, photos and videos. Share it on your social media and ask your network to share it with others and link back to your site.
• Know Your Influencers: Look at online bloggers and industry commentators who are saying interesting things about your industry or your community. Post on their blog, or think of a helpful piece of advice or an insider secret that you can offer to share only with their audience. Invite them to post on your site or social media, and keep the links flowing back and forth between your two sites.
• Be Creative: Create your own infographic, contest or trivia game for your website. Include your website or embed codes in there so it brings people back to your business. Share it widely, and see how many people come back to your site for more information.
• Be Aware: As you are doing online research or simply enjoying online reading, be aware of link opportunities. Suggest your website to potential linkers, or ask them to use your site as a replacement if you find an old or outdated link.
• Work Well With Others: Look at other local businesses that are complementary to yours and see how you can work together. Maybe you can offer a testimonial or blog on their website, and they can provide a reciprocal piece on yours. You both benefit while providing useful information to your own audience.
If you put out a press release to the local media, include your links in there as well. Most of these pieces now go on their website so it will be easy for their audience to automatically find your business. Citations and links can build a strong foundation for increasing your online search-ability and online success!