Many small business owners get caught in the cycle of “everyday business”. A daily routine of getting back with customers, checking email, preparing an inventory, setting up appointments and flipping the “Sorry, we’re closed” sign to “Open”. A daily routine is good and, in a lot of ways, necessary to keep customers happy and complete the daily checklist. Although this cycle is important, often it can take up our time and keep us from focusing on website upkeep and marketing efforts that we know we need to do, but just don’t have the time for.
A Hidden Opportunity
If business is slow and you find some time on your hands, use that opportunity to focus on your website and online presence. I’ve put together a list of areas you can start working on today to help secure your ranking in search engines, build trust with customers and better position yourself in your local community for when business returns to normal.
This list isn’t in order of importance and what you should be focusing on depends on your specific business and the current state of your website. Searching for your business or products on Google, checking your website’s statistics and evaluating your competitor’s online presence can help shed some light on what needs your attention the most.
1. Freshen up the content on your website
Text and Images
Has the text or images on your website changed much in the last year? Has it changed at all since it was created? Making sure that the content on your site is current and it accurately reflects your business, products, and services is important and can let visitors know that the information that they’re seeing is correct. Up-to-date, high-quality photos are also important to really give your site a boost in professionalism. Photos of your own products, services, team or storefront is best but even high-quality stock images work just fine in many cases as long as they don’t mislead potential customers with what it is you do. Just, whatever you do, don’t use animated clip-art. Please.
Overall Design – Look and Feel
Does your website design look new or does it look like it was created before Facebook was a thing? Small issues like having too much text on your homepage, elements too close together or a bad color palette can make focusing on the message that you’re trying to communicate difficult. This causes your website bounce-rate to skyrocket and your visitors to leave instantly. Most local customers come to a small business website looking for a single piece of information, and if they can’t find it quickly, they’ll leave.
Just don’t delete pages or touch URL’s
It’s also important to note that in very rare situations should you ever delete pages entirely or change your pages URLs. This can result in broken links, pages falling off Google search and losing much of the search engine positioning that you’ve worked hard to achieve. If you find yourself needing to do something like this, make sure you or your web designer sets up the proper 301 redirects so you can avoid any potential disasters.
2. Create new, highly-targeted pages
Consider creating some new pages that are super focused on a single product, service or location. Some of the best-performing pages that we create for clients showcase a very specific service in a specific community. The reason these pages do so well is that they contain long-tail keywords that are much easier to rank for in search engines and they often address a specific need for a customer in the city they live in. Highly-targeted pages are also a great opportunity to show your expertise in a specific field.
Some examples of highly-targeted pages include:
A real estate agent creates a page on their website titled “Land for Sale in Farmington, MO”. This page contains some information about the city of Farmington, demographics on the people who live there and only land property listings in that city.
A pest control company creates a page titled “Tips on how to get rid of bedbugs”. This page shows useful information specific to exactly what the searcher is looking for and showcases the expertise that the company has and the help it can offer. Anyone needing to get rid of bedbugs now knows that this company can help and they’ll be more apt to choose them over their competitors.
A local pizza restaurant creates a page to showcase their catering business. Instead of just mentioning the fact that they cater somewhere at the bottom of their website, they now have a targeted page that ranks for “pizza caterer” in their local community.
3. Start a blog
This may be something that you’ve considered in the past or maybe you’ve decided it wouldn’t be that beneficial for a business in your industry. Either way, you should revisit this option and consider dedicating some time to starting a blog for your business.
The benefits of a blog can make a big difference and go a long way in your marketing efforts. Blogging gives you the opportunity to build trust and expertise in your community, show people that you are a trusted professional and help them learn more about the products or services your company has to offer. Setting aside time for a blog is also an excellent way to start building an email newsletter for your business and drive more traffic to your website as each post is another opportunity for your website to rank in search engines.
What can you write about?
This can take some thought and can be dependant on your business and industry. A few ideas include:
Common questions: Address some of the most common questions from customers that you find yourself answering often.
New products or services: Showcase a new product or service that your business offers.
Advice or tips from an expert: Start giving advice, tips or how-to’s that people will find valuable from an expert in your field.
Industry news: Keep the community up-to-date on industry news and best practices.
Remember, blog posts should sound personal and can be informal. Speak as if you’re speaking to a single person sitting across from you, not to a group of people. It’s also a good idea to add visuals (quality images only, please) and social icons to make sharing to social networks easy.
Consistency is key when publishing blog posts. Even if you don’t have time to write that frequently, a single blog post per month still adds value to your website. If you’re not a confident writer yourself, consider hiring someone who is. Find a schedule that’s doable and stick to it. The major pitfall you want to avoid is starting a blog but abandoning it a few months later.
4. Check your website statistics – take action
One of the most essential parts of setting up your website is connecting with a service that provides valuable insight into how your website is performing. What are your most popular pages? What keywords are people using to find your business? What products or services have the highest conversion rate? Having the answer to these questions can better equip you to make smarter decisions not only for your website but for your business overall.
I use Google Analytics and Search Console for our clients’ websites because they’re accurate, extensive, and free. But no matter which service you use, be sure it provides you with the information you need and the ability to understand how to interpret that information. Google Analytics Acadamy provides a lot of help for beginners and is a great way to get started.
5. Work on link building
I want to start this topic off by saying that there definitely is a wrong way to build links for your website. Paying for a link building service or publishing your website to “thousands of directories” usually has no positive effect on your efforts and can often hurt your main objective rather than help it. That being said, there are many creative strategies you can use to build genuine, quality links for your website.
Create useful content
By far the most natural and effective way to build links is to focus on creating excellent content on your website that other sites and blogs want to link to. Spending your time to create useful content is never a waste when it comes to adding value to your business.
Local directories or Chamber of Commerce
Seek out local business directories in your community. These directories, as well as your local Chamber of Commerce, are usually more than happy to include a link to your website along with your listing.
Do you have a network of businesses that you regularly work with or refer work back and forth? Add these trusted partners to a “Resources” page on your website to let customers know who you recommend for related work. And don’t forget to ask for a link from their website in return!
Well-known directories and review sites
Be sure to add, claim and complete your business listing in the most popular directories like Google Maps, Yelp, Superpages, Foursquare and many more. Many of these sites may already have your business listed so you may as well be the one in control of the information.
Testimonials or case studies
Offer to leave a testimonial or a case study for a product or service that you have experience with. Many businesses are happy to put your testimonial on their website with a link back to your website as the person who left it. This one can take some creative thought but may be worth a try and could result in a stronger business relationship in the end!
Quality link building is hard work, but the benefit of some high-quality links can’t be overstated. Not only do relevant links bring more traffic to your website, but each link is also like a “vote of approval” in the eyes of search engines. The more quality websites that link to your content, the more your website looks to be a trusted source of information and value.
What else are you doing?
Let me know if there is anything I missed and what you’re doing with the spare time that you may be finding yourself with recently. If you have specific questions or want to know how you can be more effective in some of these areas, let me know and I can go in-depth on these topics in future posts.