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The Importance of a Strong Online Presence

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According to a recent article in MarketingProfs, a leading provider of marketing resources, 61% of online local business searches result in purchase. This statistic serves to reinforce the importance of keeping a strong online presence for small businesses.

There are four primary activities that local businesses should consistently maintain to manage their online visibility and promote their reputation.

The main areas of focus include:

  • Online listings:  Keep listings accurate and consistent across all online channels. If you’ve already set up your profiles, then review them to ensure they provide current information. If you are in the process of establishing your social media presence, then check to ensure your information (eg. address, phone number, social media handle) is uniform across all platforms.
  • Online reviews: Generate and promote reviews about your business and promptly handle negative ones through courteous return messages. Make it easy for reviewers to share their experience by prominently featuring links on your website and social media pages to popular review sites such as Yelp and Google. Most sites allow you to encourage your customers to post reviews, but be careful because Yelp frowns on that practice and could potentially penalize you.
  • Mobile-friendly websites: Your customers should have a seamless browsing experience when visiting your website on any type of device: desktop, mobile, tablet.. Test the appearance of your website using a smartphone or tablet. Is your site easily navigable?  Is the text easily readable, or do you need to zoom in?  Are the pictures sized properly?  And lastly, does your website align properly? . You can also check if your website is mobile friendly using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
  • Social activity: Maintain an active and engaging social media presence.  You don’t necessarily have to be on every social network, just the ones that relate to your business and where you can communicate to your customers.  Offer compelling content, advice, best-practices, how-tos, etc.  Don’t try to promote your business in every post. Put yourself in the audience’s shoes, and decide if you would contact a business if they posted a similar content.  That’s always a good test.  Implement the same diligence with your profile data as you did for contact information. Proofread your profile making sure it is error free and accurate. Consider your audience and speak to them with language and tone that are relatable. Remember, you don’t always have to post content that’s all business. Personal anecdotes or thoughts that reveal a little about yourself enable you to connect with your audience.

For businesses with multiple websites or social media accounts, make sure you maintain a strong and consistent brand across all channels. This means online appearance and content should not differ significantly from site to site.

Delegate website and social media maintenance to your in-house expert, hire a marketing consultant or use a platform like Hootsuite to manage and get the most out of your online presence. Relevancy and timeliness are key to successful web results, and by leveraging your online image through consistent and current content, you are bound to reap the rewards of your labor.

 

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