Having an attractive storefront is a great start for your business, but how do you get potential customers to walk through your doors? More importantly, how do people even know you’re there?
That’s the same challenge that small business owners face after they’ve taken the time, effort, and expense to build a website for their businesses: how to get potential customers to click onto their sites and stay there when they do.
Making your website easily searchable and marketing it to potential customers is a daunting challenge, but one that small business owners need to take on. After all, a well-crafted site won’t do you any good if no one is looking at it.
Get to Know SEO
Over 60% of internet searches are done on Google, so it is crucial that you learn how to optimize your website so that it pops up in Google searches whenever someone searches for businesses such as yours. Optimizing your site can be tricky, however, and if you don’t have a lot of technical skill, there are plenty of companies that specialize in search engine optimization (SEO) services. If you can’t afford one, there are steps you can take to do it yourself.
If you’ve already created a website, then you most likely are using a content management system. This is software that allows you to write, optimize and transfer text and artwork to your website, with the most common being WordPress.
No matter which CMS software your choose, each one will have a feature that allows you to write in meta tags and titles – a short description of your content that is embedded in the underlying HTML of your page that makes your content more searchable online. It is important to have your meta tags and titles include keywords that you believe web browsers would naturally type into their search engines when searching for businesses such as yours.
Show up in Local Searches
You should also set up a Google My Business account and fill your account with photos, descriptions, appropriate key words and up-to-date information about your business. This way, your business will show up in local searches.
For example, if you own and operate a local Italian restaurant, you want your restaurant to appear in the “businesses near me” Google result when a resident in your community does an online search for “Italian restaurants.”
A sitemap is a list of the URLs of the subpages on your website that search engines can use to discover and index all of your content. One of the easiest ways to ensure Google can identify your most important pages is to create a file that meets Google’s standards and submit it through Google Search Console. This will help web browsers to follow a path to all of your website’s pages.
Appear in Image Searches
Image searches are also becoming increasingly popular as well and optimizing your images can drive further organic traffic to your website. This is especially important if your business sells physical products.
Whenever you search for something on Google, you may notice that images also appear atop the search results. For example, if you own a small furniture company and someone is looking for a new sofa set for their living room and Googles “white sofa set,” you want images of your sofa sets to appear in the search results.
Alt text (also referred to as alt tags) can be inserted into whatever CMS software that you are using when you post images. In order to come up with alt text, think about what potential customers would type when conducting a Google search for the type of products that you sell. For example, if you own a pet store, you may want to type in “cute dog toys” or “gourmet cat food” as the alt text for your images.
Marketing Your Website
Everyone pretty much knows that their websites should be SEO optimized, but often, optimizing your site won’t be enough. Everyday small business owners shared some of their most successful tactics to get visitors to their websites, indicating that getting backlinks (getting other sites to link back to your website) is also crucial.
They also emphasized marketing techniques such as offering weekly specials or discounts, appearing on podcasts applicable to your industry, writing guest blogs or columns, and promoting your site on social media as key steps to making sure your website gets noticed.
Market Yourself in Podcasts
“You can get more website hits by being a guest on podcasts in your business niche, as this initiative will place you right in front of an audience of thousands, tens of thousands, or even more listeners who are in your consumer target market,” said Ray Blakney, CEO and co-founder of small business Live Lingua.
“Capitalize on this by discussing your business offerings and sharing your website during your interviews. Also, every SEO guru knows the importance of getting backlinks for a website. Every time a new website domain links to an enterprise’s website, it can help boost that company’s ranking in search engines. This in itself will result in more clicks when people search for the products or services that that business offers.”
Maximize Social Media
Setting up pages for your website on as many pertinent social media channels as possible will go a long way towards getting to people to find your website. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram are just some of the platforms to use to get your name out there. However, when you do set up a page for your business, don’t just describe your business – give readers a reason to visit your website.
“Hashtag themes get great responses from customers, e.g. ‘#giveaway Monday,’ etc.,” said Avrind Patil, business developer at Selectra. “Add details of your business that catch the attention of the customers by giving them exciting offers and discounts. Include games and coupons for your loyal customers.”
Connect With Influencers
One key step in getting your website (and business) noticed is to try to connect with influencers in your community. These people may be local news anchors or business owners in a community that are well known by residents.
If you own a plumbing business, for example, and you know a bad rain storm will hit the area, you may try to get the local news station to instruct residents to make sure the sump pumps in their basements are working in case of flooding (while giving a plug for your business, of course).
“The best way to find out if a particular influencer will effectively reach your target audience is by following them on social media,” said Summer Romasco, marketing director at Ad Hoc Labs.
“Doing so will help you discover how that person interacts with their followers and if their voice and messaging resonate with your brand and your target audience. Once you determine that the influencer is a good fit, engage with them directly through a message or chat. Ask them if they’d be willing to share your content or even create content that will resonate with your desired audience,” she said.
Write Guest Blogs
Another effective way to get backlinks is to find popular publications and blogging sites that write about your industry, and see if they will allow you to write a guest blog. This will help establish you as an authority in your industry, and create publicity for your website.
“When we write [guest blogs], we make sure that they are relevant to the type of audience we want to bring. Moreover, we link from the guest blogs to our website, using relevant anchors and links,” said Snizhana Kolomiets, marketing manager at Better Proposals. “This ensures we get highly qualified, relevant traffic to the right pages.”
Engage in Email Marketing
Email marketing involves emailing promotions or information about your business on your website to a bulk of potential customers. Of course, many of your emails may get tossed in people’s spam folders, but don’t get discouraged. According to the Data & Marketing Association in the U.K., email marketing on average yields a whopping 4300 percent ROI for businesses in the US.
“Many businesses fail to attract more visits to their website because they never consider the importance of email marketing,” said Henry Davis, owner of Adept Golf.
“Email marketing lets you reach your ideal visitors personally. If you do email marketing right, you not only boost your website hits, but you also attract customers that are high-quality.”
Offer Promotional Games and Contests
“Organize contests and games where you give winners prizes, freebies, and giveaways. Hosting a contest is one of the simplest ways to boost website hits,” said Liam Johnson, CEO of The Hitch Store.
“People fancy getting rewards and freebies, and they also enjoy competitions. Holding regular contests like trivia, raffles, and mini-games leads people to your website. It increases brand awareness, too.”
Next Up in the Claim Your Corner of the Internet Series – Become an Authority
Creating and marketing your website will go a long way in making your business more successful. However, you can compound that success by adding a blog to your site. Blogs (such as the one you’re reading right now) give you a way to intellectually and emotionally connect to your customers and become a leading authority in your industry.