As more of us spend time at home and away from the outside world for a bit, it’s increasingly obvious how important the internet is in our daily lives. It’s how we’re staying informed, connected, and entertained. For many of us, it’s how we’re able to continue working from home and reaching out to loved ones.
And for many local businesses, it’s been a lifeline to customers and community members looking for ways to support them.
As we’re navigating this shift, the investment you used to be making in your storefront should now be shifted to your online presence. But it’s not enough simply to build a website, cross your fingers, and hope for the best.
Instead, you need to build out a complete web presence — one that unifies all of the pieces of your business’s online existence in a way that captures customers and encourages them to do business with you.
Let’s walk through the elements that go into a comprehensive web presence that nets you customers in the real world and sets you up for success once we’re able to get back to normal.
Start with a Great Website
At the core of any business’s web presence is its website. This is the one place on the internet where you have full creative control over how your brand is portrayed, so take the time to build out a website that really serves your brand.
Create a brand story that highlights what you do and why you’re so passionate about serving your customers. This messaging should be front-and-center on your homepage, and it should serve as the foundation for all of your other marketing content. Your website is also where you can house informational content, be it blog posts, how-to videos, or podcast episodes, that add value for your audience and establish your brand as a trusted voice in your field.
Build out your website so that it puts your business out there as friendly, likable, and trustworthy. And make it easy for interested consumers to get in touch to learn more by including your contact information clearly in the footer of every page.
Related: Does Google Trust Your Website? Why It Matters
Lead Visitors There with SEO
It’s not enough just to create an outstanding website; you need to make sure that consumers who are looking for the solution you offer can discover your website in search. That’s where a solid SEO strategy comes in. SEO strategies have a lot of moving parts, from behind-the-scenes elements that are built into the coding of your website (things like metadata and schema) to more forward-facing SEO elements (like keyword-rich educational content).
Keyword research is at the heart of every great SEO strategy. While you won’t necessarily rank for generic keywords in your industry (those spots are usually taken up by household name brands), if you can find ways to optimize your content for local and niche searches, you can get discovered by an audience looking for what you offer.
Build Up Your Local Listings
Now that your website is up-and-running and optimized to stand out, it’s time to broaden your virtual horizons. Establishing your presence on local listings sites is a critical next step for any local business.
Local listings directories (like Yelp, Google My Business, and Facebook) are where many consumers first turn in their search for a local solution. After all, the directories are designed to help you find businesses that are nearby, and reviews and ratings make it easy for people to gauge whether or not your business is worth a closer look.
When building up your local listings, your business should be listed on the major sites. It’s also a good idea to look for niche listings, ones that are specific to either your industry or region.
Once you’ve identified the listings to target, establish your presence there, and ensure that your business’s information is consistent across all directories. This not only makes it easier for consumers to find accurate information about your business online, but it also bolsters your SEO by building up reputable backlinks.
Right now, many reviews are on hold, but consumers are turning to local listings for updated hours, delivery or take-out options, and any specials businesses are running, so it’s an important component of your web presence.
Get Active on Social Media
Increasingly, social media is the place where people turn to learn about local businesses. According to a survey from Square, 52% of consumers have discovered a new brand on Facebook.
Facebook is a great place to start, as the platform boasts billions of users across all demographics. From there, it’s really up to you to decide what other social media platforms best fit your business model.
For B2Bs, it’s a no-brainer to get on LinkedIn. Many retailers find great success on image-based social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.
No matter which social sites you decide to operate on, the most important thing is remaining active and engaging with your audience. Post on a regular schedule. Respond to all comments and inquiries, and otherwise work to build up a happy, helpful community around your brand online.
Related: 7 Social Media Post Ideas for Your Local Business to Use During COVID-19
Use Live Chat to Connect
By now, you’ve covered a lot of your online bases. Live chat is the last piece that can build that personal connection and draw consumers in to become customers.
Live chat allows you to answer consumers’ questions in real-time. When you provide consumers with careful, individual attention before they even become a customer or set foot in your store or office, you demonstrate that your brand is attentive and caring.
Live chat can be especially useful right now, when consumers may have additional questions about your services, your hours of operation, and more.
When it comes to building up a web presence that captures customers, it’s not enough to tick off one or two boxes. Instead, you need to build a complete presence that’s interconnected and offers consumers a glimpse at the kind of stellar service they should expect to receive when they choose to become customers.
We’re here to help you build a great web presence that can help you capture and engage with customers now as well as put you in a good position once we’re out and about again. Contact us to learn more.