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    Categories: Digital Marketing Trends, Insight and Tools

How Small Businesses Can Expand Their Online Presence

As more businesses develop their online marketing strategy, it has become crucial for small and growing enterprises to understand how to increase their brand presence. However, between the complexities of understanding the best SEO practices and the numerous other jobs you have to do as the leader of a small team, it can be easy to dismiss your business’ online presence as a non-essential strategy.

Alas, nothing can be further from the truth, as SEO and online visibility are closely linked with improved business. In fact, poor online presence can actually damage your image and cost you money. Fortunately, business consultancy experts, Sage South Africa, have compiled a list of ways you can quickly and easily improve your business’ online presence.

Put Yourself in the Customer’s’ Shoes

Given how complex and intangible SEO can feel, the best way to understand its impact is to experience finding your business online the same way a potential customer does.

You will discover that your expectations and the customer’s choice of keywords used for discovery of your website are very different. Similarly, you will see finding your business through social media is another challenge because the customer might not be using the same hashtags.

Website content is another area where you should always keep the customer’s point-of-view in mind. In many cases, customers often find that business has not posted clear contact information (and channels such as contact forms) on the website. All this means that the business and the customers often see the same website and digital presence of the business in different lights.

Here are several ways in which the businesses could improve and enhance their online presence:

The Perfect Meta

When browsing a list of search engine results, you are confronted with a page title and a brief description of the page. These are the title tag and meta description, respectively.

The title tag appears in search results and on the tab when a user clicks on the page. These are also visible on social media shares. In effect, it is the online equivalent of your shop sign, so selecting an appropriate title is essential.

Likewise, the meta description is a brief 156-character summary of what your website has to offer.  It is the additional encouragement for users to click your page.

If you are a web developer or employ one to maintain your site, there are simple instructions available online to help you edit these descriptions. Alternatively, if you use a CMS, like WordPress, use one of the many intuitive and free plugins.

Take Advantage of Media

Search engines often rely on quick and easy techniques to give websites their initial ranking. One of the most common techniques is to scan all words and media for keywords to match your site against similar searches.

While most websites intuitively use keywords simply by describing the business and the services it offers, many forget to optimize their videos and images. Before uploading your site’s media (or afterward if you use website builders which allow you alter information), make sure the images use keywords which will boost your SEO ranking. Instead of “logo.jpg”, rename it with your company name.

Better still, add a short ALT description to your files as another means of contributing towards the keywords associated with your site. Just don’t overdo it or your site will become too generalized.

Consistent Information

Utilizing online directories, like “Google My Business”, is a free and easy way to inform potential customers of a business’ location and contact details. However, if these details are inconsistent across directories, the customers will get confused and seek out the competition.

Equally, businesses should try to keep their e-mail address and social media URLs consistent with their business’ web domain name. Even if you’re not ready to set up your social media right away, open social media accounts as soon as you have your business domain to ensure no-one else can take them.

Internal Links

Optimized linking of internal web pages and articles is a great way to improve your website’s search rank. Additional links mean users spend longer exploring your website, and the amount of time spent navigating your business’ website contributes towards its search rating.

However, there are only so many new pages a website can add before it becomes too complex to navigate. Blogs enable you to constantly add new content to your brand presence and develop a loyal community of returning readersCustomer Relationship Management

Positive and regular customer engagement is crucial to winning and maintaining business. While loyal patrons might make up as little as 5% of a business’ customer base, they can account for 80% of sales, and improve profit margins by 25%. Yet, dissatisfying customers is the quickest way to turn loyal or potential patrons against you, and just as positive reviews will likely win you additional business, negative reviews will drive people away.

Part of this expectation includes being able to contact you directly via social media. While it is important and professional to set up an official contact email address, your primary means of communication for customer queries, complaints, and feedback should be Facebook and Twitter, and, using employees, chatbots, or consolidating software to manage your multiple social accounts, you need to be prepared to answer queries quickly and politely.

Conclusion

As ecommerce continues to soar, increasing your business’ online visibility is an ongoing challenge. By implementing consistent and SEO-driven techniques which place the customer experience at the heart of these strategies, your enterprise’s online presence can start to grow.

Mustaasam Saleem :Mustaasam is the WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways - A Managed WordPress Hosting Platform, where he actively works and loves sharing his knowledge with the WordPress Community. When he is not working, you can find him playing squash with his friends, or defending in Football, and listening to music. You can email him at mustaasam.saleem@cloudways.com