Discussions on digital visibility are often designed for big business. Many buzz word techniques (ie. SEO) are held up as the gold standard, but for small business owners they are financially unachievable and ultimately unnecessary for online growth.
Improving the visibility of your small business with Google
This seminar teaches small business owners how to make the most of the free Google Business tool and implement attainable strategies that increase their visibility amongst target audiences. Key areas covered will include:
- Setting realistic digital visibility goals as a small business
- Optimising you listing for your target audience
- Maintaining on consistency and accessibility
- Putting together a customer review strategy
- Using media to showcase your business
*Please note that to get the most out of this seminar, you’ll need to have a current Google Business listing.
Improving the visibility of your small business with Google
Setting realistic digital visibility goals as a small business
Small businesses do not need the visibility and digital saturation of global brands like Coke and Nike or national brands like JB-HIFI or The Iconic. As a small business your focus is on developing long-term relationships with a local customer base. This goal should remain the same both on and offline. This means your digital visibility goals should align with that long term, local audience focus. This webinar explores very simple, relatively quick, and free ways that you can improve your digital visibility with the resources that you have.
Optimising your listing for your target audience
This webinar assumes that you have already claimed your Business Profile, filled out the sections of your Google Business account and published you Google Business listing.
- Include a call to action in your business description. A call to action (CTA) is a marketing term that refers to a prompt encouraging readers to take action. Some examples include read more/learn more, buy now, enquire today, chat with a team member – Every piece of marketing content that you create should include a call to action – it tells readers what you want them to do next, it gets them to engage with your business and therefore begin a relationship with you
- Be specific about the business category you choose – i.e. don’t just choose retail -choose fashion or groceries
- If you are a home-based business, DO NOT put your home address into the information, even if customers come to your home to receive a service. This is both a security issue and can affect the overall professional image of your brand.
- Include ‘signaling’ keywords or short phrases – this is helpful to both Google and your customers. Google for search engine purposes and customers to get the information they need at a glance. For example if you are a café you might include keywords like ‘brunch’, ‘locally roasted coffee’, ‘vegan friendly’ and ‘open late’. So when a customer types ‘vegan friendly restaurants near me’ your café will pop up amongst the top listings.
Maintaining consistency and accessibility
Your Google Listing is often the first point of contact with your business for customers, so it is important to make a good impression.
- Make sure your service options, opening hours and contact information are all correct and consistent. And ‘confirm’ the hours regularly.
- Make sure your contact options are all up to date.
- Make sure your brand name spelling and capitalisation is consistent.
- Make sure you use consistent terminology when describing your business online.
- Make it easy for customers to get in touch from Google.
- Make it easy for customers to see what you offer.
Using media to promote
- Make sure the Google maps image of your business is an accurate representation of your storefront. If it isn’t, you can edit it in Business Profile Manager.
- You can take and upload images of your store to your Google listing
- A new product range in store or item on the menu (this is particularly important if you work in an industry where trends change regularly ie. in clothing retail)
- Made changes to your interior décor
- Have changed your branding
- Have changed any other aspect of your business
- If you are a service-based business or a sole trader, doing these things can be difficult as there is seemingly nothing visual to represent. Aim to have:
- A professional headshot of yourself
- An image of your business logo
- Ideally an ‘in action’ image of you with a customer or at work
- You can also post updates and feature products on your Google listing
The importance of customer reviews
- Customer reviews play an enormous role in the appearance and search results of your business on Google.
- Google uses customer reviews to provide a star rating for your business
- Customers use reviews as a determining factor on whether they want to visit
- Business listings with customer reviews (the more the better) look more credible and receive more clicks.
- It’s important to prompt positive reviews from your customers
- To do this you need to implement a customer review strategy
Putting together a customer review strategy
A customer review strategy should include a review request and a strategy to manage negative reviews.
Writing a review request
- Send as an email or text message
- Sent soon after the transaction is completed
- Include a link to the review page so it’s easy for the customer to find and fill out
- Emphasise how appreciative you are for their custom and their support for small business.
- Ask for feedback NOT a 5-star review (this can sound manipulative.
Managing a negative review (also known as reputation management)
- Everyone is going to get these from time to time. You can’t delete a negative review on Google, but you can demonstrate to potential customers that you are a reasonable and professional business owner who is focused on their customers and improving their business offerings wherever possible.
- Respond to the review publicly (you can do this with all review but it’s particularly important to do with negative reviews)
- Don’t try to argue with the customer – arguments on the internet never make anyone look good.
- Acknowledge their experience i.e. ‘I am sorry that had a negative experience at our restaurant.’
- Make it clear that this is not the norm or what your business stands for (ideally without using any negative terms like ‘we are not this…’ i.e. ‘we strive to cultivate a warm, welcoming environment where everyone feels comfortable’.
- Provide them with a way of contacting you to resolve the issue. i.e. ‘we’d love to discuss this issue with you further and see what we can do to ensure this does not happen again. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.’ 9 times out of 10 they are not going to contact you, but to other readers this makes your business look professional, honest and caring. Ultimately a well-managed complaint can actually BOOST your credibility as a business.