If you are among the majority of the business owners here in the US, you probably have no idea what I am referring to. It’s not a trick question, but one that needs to be asked. The reason we ask is that businesses suffer unnecessarily due to NOT having in place the most basic components needed to be VISIBLE to their public. Simply having a sign outside of your business, or a listing in the yellow pages just doesn’t cut it in this day and age. It is 2014. Which means that if your basics are out, so are you. Out of business that is! And no, I’m not kidding!
I’m really not trying to be harsh. But It’s not like it used to be. If you needed a plumber back in the day you’d pull out your phone book and look up a plumber. You dialed the number, spoke to someone and you were set, right? Most of the time that phone book did the trick. But cut to 2014 and over 60% of those searching for your business’ services and products do so via their smart phones. The remaining use a desktop and maybe 1-2% roughly use the old phone book. The majority there are elderly.
So what does this mean? It means that if information about your business is limited online, or non-existent, you can’t expect that phone to ring much. This is serious. And it’s taken WAY too lightly. Ask yourself how your customers/clients/patients contact you if they can’t find you online? They can’t and they won’t.
Now the mistake I see most business owners make is when they say: “I Googled JACK’S ROOTER’ and I come up just fine!” (Face Palm) The problem here is that unless people know the name of your business you’re virtually invisible without your basics. You’ll be invisible 99% of the time. People search categories, (Key Words) not the name of a business, UNLESS they know the name of the business. There are variables such as having the name of the business which includes a key word….. let’s say ‘Master Plumbers’, or ‘Kelly’s Bridal Shoppe’. In these instances you MAY, or MAY NOT be found depending on how popular you are online and if you do, or do not have those basics in. Our CTO once stated: “The internet as far as business, is just a big popularity contest.” I’m here to tell you that it’s true, like it or not. Similar to High School, huh? Yes, it’s not fair, but then neither is the price of gas in Europe!
Anyway here is the way Google works:
Let’s say you’re looking for a plumber in your area. You would likely enter ‘Plumber’ in the search bar and also enter a zip code, or the town. What Google will do is pull up the ten closest plumbers to where you are standing. Most phones have GPS initiated, so when searching on your phone, the results are pinpointed to your specific location. It doesn’t change when using your computer, by the way, because that location is determined by your IP address. Google will also take into account your search habits. If you’ve searched Domino’s a lot, chances are Domino’s will be in your search when searching for ‘Pizza’, just as an example.
The sad thing is that in most cases, if one has little or no internet presence, someone could be right around the corner from your business and not have any luck finding you on their phone or computer. Why? Because you probably DO NOT have the online presence I am talking about here. Just because you have a storefront and a sign doesn’t mean people will find you. It’s really that simple. On a side note, if you have a website and it IS NOT optimized and mobile friendly, you have two strikes against you, and the likelihood of being found for all of your services and products worsens. Google also gives preference to mobile friendly sites. Where I could get into the nooks and crannies here and talk how your website’s construction plays a major role in how easily you are found, I’m just going to keep it simple for this article. After all the article is about your ‘Business Basics’.
Now once again, folks in general won’t punch in the NAME of YOUR business; they punch in a service or product. Let’s not forget this point as it is very important. Maybe one is looking for Pizza in Phoenix. That person would punch in ‘Pizza’ and the zip code, or town, and again Google will populate the ten closest places that sell pizza from where you are standing. That same person might punch in ‘Calzones’ for example and get a completely different list. That’s because the category has changed, not the name of the business.
So what are ‘The Basics’ exactly? They are two-part.
The first part is: Your FREE Business Listings.
These are Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp & Manta. There are many more, though these are at last count the largest business directories in the world. And they’re FREE! Yes, free! That’s one reason it is so hard for me to understand sometimes why many business owners pay them no mind. These are FREE listings, people. All you need to do is Google – ‘Google for Business’ and create your Google listing. You do the same for Yahoo, Bing, Yelp and Manta. Again I will keep this simple by saying that the more places your business’ name shows up, the more visible you are to your public. And don’t pay someone to do this. Sit down, take the time and figure it out. It’s YOUR business! Just do it and don’t whine about it. You will thank me later. I promise!
It is important to note that some of the listings you create will ask you to VERIFY your business via snail mail. For example Google will send you a verification post card. That postcard will contain a pin number that you will enter to verify that YOU are the owner of that business and doing business from THAT address. This actually helps to build legitimacy. Yes, legitimacy. Prior to completing this action Google DOES NOT KNOW if you are a legitimate business. Check it out yourself! Don’t take my word for it. And I believe Google and Bing are the only two business listings left that one has to verify by ‘pin’ code. The rest go much faster. If you stay on it you can probably get all these business listings done within a couple of hours. They’re really not that hard to create. If you run into trouble just e-mail me, or comment here and I’ll usually answer you within 24 hours.
The second part is: Social Media Accounts.
There are more than I will list here, though the following are the most important. They are: Facebook, LinkdIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+, which also runs hand in hand with YouTube. These accounts are also FREE and created very easily. And though they do require some basic knowledge to make them perform and help create better visibility for your business, its products and services, they are 100% necessary items for building your business’ online presence! A word of caution though in that if you ignore these tools, you will only make it that much harder to be found online. I’m telling you. These social media channels can really help you get noticed if you work them properly. Information on how to do so is all over YouTube and the internet. And again feel free to ask me any questions you might have. I am indeed here to help. As always I want your business to flourish and prosper.
When small business succeeds we all win! So get busy! Don’t sell yourself short.
Over the course of the next few months I will be writing on the importance of online reviews and how these play a huge role in building the brand that is YOUR business. We are noticing HUGE spikes in ranking on Google when reviews are taken seriously.
Thank you for stopping by. I greatly appreciate you as an audience and I always welcome your comments, questions and even suggestions.
Have fun! I’ll see you at the top!