Actively managing the Online Presence of your business can be a valuable way to improve your business and with more than 97% of consumers searching for business online and 88% consulting online reviews before purchasing a local service it is becoming essential for lots of businesses.
It can be hard to understand the benefits of online presence management however especially for business owners who do not have a natural inclination to all things online.
Here are a couple of reasons why you should be managing, building and promoting your online presence and reputation wherever you can.
Get Found more often
There are many places online where you can promote your business, whether it is on a website or more commonly now on an app. In the majority of cases these places allow you to list for free and creating a presence can take as little as a few minutes. The best thing about these services is in most cases they require very little ongoing effort and maintenance and will then represent your business 24/7 as another place where consumers can find and interact with you.
You should work towards creating a presence for your business on as many services as possible starting with the ones that have the highest profile or the biggest benefit for your business. Remember that not everyone uses the same services when they are looking for local business so spreading your business across as may reputable services as possible will maximize your business's chances of being found. If your customers do not find you when looking online they will find your competitors and help build their business.
Improve Local SEO
Many of you will be familiar with SEO and some of you will probably have a negative reaction to that term. Local SEO is not the same as traditional SEO which is really Organic SEO and involves trying to get a webpage to rank on search engines based on the contents of the page and links to the page.
Local SEO is especially important to local businesses and your local SEO comes into effect when someone does a search with 'local intent' on a search engine. When a local search is performed there is usually a special section that is reserved for "local results" and on google this is often referred to as the '7 pack' (but sometimes this number varies). A 'local intent' search is usually someone looking for a product or service in a specific location, for example: plumber in san diego, doctor in paddington, hair cut in carindale.
For a local business this is gold as it ensures you a prominent position on page one of the search engine for a very relevant and actionable search term. It is very important to your business to be one of these golden 7 (or less) and getting onto or falling off this list will have material effects on your bottom line.
One of the biggest factors affecting your local SEO score is based on citations, these are places online where your business information appears (it does not specifically need to include a link back to your website). It is important that you have as many citations as possible for your business focusing first on higher quality services. However this is not enough, you also need to make sure that your information is as consistent as possible across all your citations especially the Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) for your business. Ideally this information should be consistent and should correspond with the same information on your homepage.
One of the major focuses of myPresences is helping you maximize theLocal SEO of your business by encouraging you to create as many citations as possible and then ensuring they are accurate and consistent everywhere.
Your business is likely to have some duplicate presences on some services, especially if your business has been around for some time or the site is heavily editable by consumers who may create many independent pages. Duplicate presences can also happen when sites share and combine data over time.
You should aim to remove duplicate presences by identifying the presence you wish to keep and then attempting to remove the other presences.
Duplicate presences can cause problems such as having inconsistent data or could result in consumers seeing the presences which are not the best representation of your business. For example, consumers may see pages with no reviews or a low rating when you have a better page on the same service with reviews and a good rating.
Ensure accuracy & completeness
It is hard enough to be found online by consumers, you do not want them to find you and then lose them due to inaccurate or missing information. This is most commonly due to missing or inaccurate addresses, phone numbers or web urls that will give consumers who find you a bad experience (especially if they have driven to your location only to find the address or map location was incorrect or you are closed when the site said you were open). You will likely lose the customer if this occurs.
You should aim to make sure your major information such as Business Name, Address, Phone Number, Web Url and Map location are as accurate as possible and you have a value set for each where possible. Other information should also be as accurate as possible but these 5 are the major data points you should be concerned with.
Get chosen more often - don't send customers to your competitors
In addition to making sure your information is accurate you should aim to make your profiles as interesting as possible so that when consumers find you they are more likely to choose you and not continuing looking and choose your competitors.
You can make your profile stand out by including things like Photos, Videos, Awards, Menus and lots of additional information such as opening hours, payment types and anything else a prospective customer might be looking for.
All too often business have the most basic profile on a service with only a name address and phone number and consumers will often click through to other profiles when they see these uninteresting profiles.
You should also be careful of services that list your competitors directly on your profile page, this makes it very easy for you to bring customers to your page and then pass them directly to your competitors because you did not have what they were looking for or your rating was too low or did not have any reviews.
Leverage Ratings and Reviews
Get used to checking your ratings and reviews online ... they are only going to be more important as time goes on. As the younger generations that have grown up with ratings and reviews on everything become consumers they are going to check your ratings and reviews before they decide to become customers of your business and if they don't like what they see or can see better ratings and reviews elsewhere they will not hesitate to go there instead.
You should be aware of your ratings and reviews on all the major services where your business has a presence and do your best to keep your reputation as high as possible. Check your reviews and respond to as many of them as you can, positive and negative.
Try to make sure your ratings are better than your competitors on the sites that are important to your business, when consumers search on these sites the businesses with higher ratings will likely be listed first so you will be missing out of business if you are rated lower than your close competitors. Increasing your rating on these sites to be well above average for your competitors would be a great strategy to increase revenue. Our competitors comparison feature can help you understand where your ratings are below or above competitors.
A recent study has shown that a one star increase in the Yelp rating provides a 5-9% increase in revenue, this will only increase in the future.
Online fraud is a small but growing problem for local businesses but it is something you should be aware of and check for occasionally. A good way to combat against online fraud is to monitor your data across the internet and Claim all of the presences you can so that you control the data.
Some examples of local online fraud are:
- A competitor changing a phone number online so you miss out on business.
- changing your business address so consumers cannot find you.
- setting the wrong business category so that consumers searching for a business like yours do not find you.
- changing business opening hours so that sites indicate the business is closed when it is not.
- changing the map location so that consumers using the directions feature are send to the wrong place.
Without systematic monitoring of your data these changes may never be noticed by a business or may cause serious unnoticed damage to the potential of the business.