As a small business owner, the world of the web (and everything that goes along with it) can be quite intimidating. There is just so much information on the web – legitimately everything can be found on the internet, some way or another – so what do you to to make sure that your website and your products are found?
Well, there are a lot of things you can do (and a lot of things you shouldn’t do – like take up those broken-English emails that are offering you their SEO services) but if you wanted to know everything you could do to your website to make it better…well, that would be a lot longer than a single blog post.
So I’m going to give you the run down of the absolute basics, the essentials, so to speak.
Give Google Love
There are a lot of different Google products and offerings out there (seriously, if you ever actually find a list of all the products that Google offers, it’s pretty amazing).
For website owners and small business owners especially there is a trifecta of Google products that you should implement immediately.
Google Webmaster Tools
Google Analytics answers that question “Well, how do I know what’s working and what isn’t?” – Google Analytics is one of the most comprehensive (and free) analytics tools out there. It lets you see how people are coming to the site, how long they’re staying around, what they’re buying (and what they aren’t) and so much more.
Google Webmaster Tools is an extension, to a degree, of Google Analytics – the dashboard of Google Webmaster Tools gives you an insight into how Google itself is seeing your website – what other website it sees linking to your website, if it’s robots are having and issues “reading” your website. It’s a more technical view of your website, and if you can’t act on the data you see, you can find someone who probably could – a programmer, developer or SEO.
Google Places is probably one of the most important listings that you can have if you have both a storefront and an online store. It tells search engines that the website and the actual store are connected, and allows your website to show up in “local” searches (that is, someone searching for “handbags in NYC” rather than just “handbags”).
And if you aren’t tech-savvy, no worries – there are any number of tutorials on how to install the code properly – and if you’re using a platform like WordPress, there are any number of plugins that can integrate Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools with little other than a click of a mouse.
Integrate With Old School
So you’ve got a website now – but how are you going to tell your customer base? Often overlooked, it’s critically important that you integrate your new online presence with your offline advertising.
Create new business cards that have your website URL; make sure that your next round of advertisements, be they radio, TV or print actually include your website URL as well. It’s amazing how having a cross-platform presence can help to increase the success of your website.
Social – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ – these vehicles are all becoming more and more important when it comes to both engaging (and keeping) your customer base and getting found in search engine results.
If you’re really dedicated to making your website work (as I hope that you are) you’re going to find out quite soon how time consuming actually being engaged with your customers on social media can be.
When you get to the point of social media fatigue (or you find that you can’t run your business and your Facebook page at the same time) you’ll probably want to hire someone – or find someone already within your company – to be your brand advocate.
What is a brand advocate? It’s that person within your company that lives and breathes your culture, knows it inside and out and is passionate about everything you do – and wants to interact with your customers. It doesn’t have to be your CEO, your VP, your Head of Marketing – just someone who loves what your company does.
And if it’s just you…well, you’re going to have to scale back on your social engagement for a bit until you are at an even keel and find a manageable balance between running a business and a Facebook page…or you could always expand!
Will The Real Slim Shady Please Stand Up
This may seem like a small thing in comparison to everything else listed here, but you’re going to want to make sure that you include any relevant contact information (physical location, about us page, telephone, fax, contact email) on your website as well. Make sure that it has your personality, your stamp of approval!
You don’t want to be that shady company that doesn’t have any kind of contact information listed – why would consumers trust you if they can’t get in touch with you? And these days, as search engine crawlers are getting more and more sophisticated, they’re thinking the same way.
If search engines don’t see contact information on a website, it’s likely to be de-valued in some way or another. As a genuine, valuable business, give your customers that warm fuzzy feeling that lets them know that they can contact you if there is ever an issue.
These are just a small number of things that as a business owner you can do to help propel the success of your website. What do you suggest for those just venturing into the world of online shopping?