Long gone are the days when the only step business owners needed to take was to set up a brick-and-mortar store and buy ads in the local business directory. The internet is more than a distraction; it’s the future of commerce. According to research, customers use mobile search to do everything from find local businesses to compare prices and read reviews on items they want to purchase. A business that isn’t online is missing an entire market segment. Here are some tips for building your online brand.
Create a Digital Storefront
Creating an online brand has to go beyond simply having a website. A digital storefront is a landing page that users see when they search for your site on their favorite search engine or mobile application. The point of a digital storefront is to put your store’s name, address, hours, offerings, and contact information on as many sites as possible. The information should be consistent to improve search relevancy and generate traffic to your store’s website. Common sites for a storefront are all the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Bing, for example), merchant review directories (such as Yelp or Angie’s List) and trusted sites such as YellowPages. If possible, pay extra to display a mobile version of the digital storefront.
Create an SEO-Friendly Website
Search Engine Optimization is a buzz word on every marketing blog for one reason: SEO works. The biggest player in the SEO game is Google, the most popular search engine in the world for English speakers. While Google changes its algorithms regularly, some factors remain constant. If your website has a clean user experience and relevant content and information, you should avoid penalization. To go from search penalization avoidance to search engine optimization, you’ll need to:
- build a mobile-friendly website that’s viewable on all devices
- clearly display the store’s contact and location information
- add your store’s location to the site’s meta description
- use a metadata scheme to increase search engine categorization accuracy
- use localized keywords instead of generalized when possible
- avoid keyword stuffing
For example, www.jgmproperties.com uses all of the above to make the site search engine friendly.
Another step in building your brand is to incorporate social media into the site and to promote the site on social media. As a rule, your business should have an account on most social media sites and post content where it makes sense for your industry. For example, a book seller should have a social media account on the big players (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+) and post content on a regular, consistent basis that best showcases the company’s personality. Ideas of things to share that add relevancy and push customers back to the company website:
- sales and special events
- tips on how to use products
- interviews with employees or leaders
- community Q&A
- pictures of events, locations, happy customers
- volunteering efforts and results
- testimonials from customers
Sites that have social interaction rank higher than those that are static. Include ways for your visitors to comment on sites and share your site’s content (articles, videos, and products) with others.
Add Relevant Content
Along with content on social media, a business website should post relevant content on the site itself in order to rate higher on search engines. One way to accomplish this is to focus on creating Evergreen content. Evergreen content is an article or blog post that will remain relevant for many years as a resource. This means that it’s informational in nature and most likely to appear in search engines as a result to a question. This type of writing increases SEO because it increases inbound traffic exponentially over time.
Reward Visitors for Visiting
A static site doesn’t encourage visitors to come back. Aside from relevant content, another way to encourage return customer visits is to provide incentives for actions. When a customer joins your Facebook page, for example, send them a coupon that they can use in the store. Or, promote special sales only to your website and social media pages, thereby rewarding those who interact with the community. Giveaways are another great way to incentivize interaction and return visits.
Business marketing is more complicated than ever before however it’s also less expensive. While a business may have to do more to reach the new mobile market, it can spend less to make it happen. Gone are the days of direct mail being the only way to reach a potential customer. This means that business owners who want to build their brand online need only follow a few steps to become as relevant online as they are off.
Margaret Lewis works in digital marketing and enjoys the opportunity to share her SEO insights with an online audience. She writes regularly for a number of business and marketing websites.