Here are some eye opening statistics on Google My Business (now Google Business Profiles) that show the importance of your businesses online profile:
- Listings show up in over 3.5 billion searches per day.
- On average, 56% of actions on listings are website visits.
- 16% of businesses receive more than 100 calls each month from Google My Business.
Those are truly eye popping numbers.
It’s why I’m shocked at the number of local businesses that still haven’t claimed their online profiles, let alone optimized them.
It is literally free advertising. There are many thousands of businesses that make most of their money just from Google My Business alone, and they’ve never spent a cent on marketing through this channel.
And the best part? Google isn’t the only operation in town. There are dozens of small business directories and review sites that your potential customers visit every day. With examples for just about every industry vertical you can think of. There is significant upside from simply optimizing your profiles across all your relevant sites, and it’s low hanging fruit (by that I mean it is easy to execute and the rewards can be substantial).
In this post I will help you establish a system that optimizes your small businesses online presence and helps you increase sales revenue by reliably attracting more new customers to your business.
Benefits of an Optimized Online Presence
What are the potential benefits? Effectively implementing this system can increase sales by 5% to 10% for the right small business. For a $500,000 business, that’s a $25,000 to $50,000 increase in revenue each year which will contribute $5,000 to $10,000 in additional profits at a 20% profit margin.
What is the cost to implement? With our system this initiative takes between 1-2 hours of effort per month with no upfront or ongoing costs.
Which businesses is it for? Any small business that customers discover through online search. This includes food service and hospitality, any retail business and personal and professional service providers.
How to Optimize Your Online Presence
It’s time to make and stick to a simple plan to maintain your profiles and grow your ratings. All you need to do is map out the platforms relevant to your business, create and tailor your profiles and then remember to keep them up-to-date.
Here’s how to do it in three steps:
Step 1: Identify Your Platforms
This is a simple step to start. You need to develop a list of the platforms you will focus your attention and energy on. Google is definitely one. To find the others for your specific business simply Google your business name, your competitors and your product and location. Look at the results on the first page of each search and note down the platforms that are consistent across the searches.
You want to identify the platforms based on your industry, the ones where you will go in and own your profile, and optimize it. For example, this might be Yelp for restaurants, G2 Crowd for software, or Beanhunter for coffee, etc. Where do people find and research your business and businesses like yours?
The result: You will have a shortlist of online platforms where you will create a profile and then monitor and improve them continuously.
Step 2: Create Consistent Content
This is where you get to put your best foot forward. It’s your chance to present your business in the best light, and attract the right customers for you. You want to create consistent profiles so I suggest creating a document or folder that includes all of the following under three categories:
Big Impact, Get Right First
- A catchy headline: This should both describe what your business does in simple, clear terms and catch the attention of customers. For example, it might be your business name and what you do. For example, “Frosties - Premium Ice Cream Parlor”.
- A consistent description: Try using keywords your customers will use in your descriptions — i.e, for our ice-cream parlor, use variations like Ice-Cream Store in London as many times as possible.
- Photos that highlight your business: Photos make a massive difference to your profiles. So spend time here. Where relevant, make sure to add: a cover photo with your best photo, exterior photos, interior photos, product photos, and team photos to personalize your business.
Big Impact, Continually Monitor
- Add products and services: Make sure to add all relevant details to your products and services, including the name, price, category, description, and a link to the related product or service page on your website.
- Get more reviews: Reviews are vital to your online presence and you should have a strategy and tactics in place to ensure good reviews. In fact, I wrote a whole post on how to improve your online ratings.
- Answer questions: Most platforms allow customers to ask questions. You should respond to every single one of these and present a united front that you would be proud of. Be caring, be thoughtful and be nice. Lots of people see these responses and they represent your business.
- Post updates: If the platform allows it, you should use the opportunity to post updates, offers, and events related to your business.
- Reply to messages: Make it easy for customers to get in contact, and follow up as promptly as you can. Never miss an opportunity.
Smaller Impact, Update Frequently
- Determine your business category: Categories describe what your business is, not what it does or sells. Always choose a primary category that best describes your business as a whole, not its products or services. For our example, it is just “Ice Cream”.
- Add business hours: Potential customers need to know when you’re open and closed, so you should add your opening hours. This is one of the most important things to keep up-to-date so that your customers might visit more frequently, and you don’t attract negative reviews.
- Set holiday hours: This is a way of putting abnormal operating hours on autopilot and saving yourself from the problems we just described above.
- Add your contact details: Most businesses will want to add both their website and phone number. Leave one blank if you don’t have a website or don’t want to be contacted by phone, but you need to add at least one of these contact options so your customers can reach you.
Hopefully by splitting them into three categories it will help you prioritize your time and effort. There is only one category that requires constant attention and in Step 3 we will look to implement a system to make sure this happens.
The result: A consistent, accurate and up-to-date representation of your business on all the platforms your customers engage with.
Step 3: Monitor and Optimize
Time to put in place a system to stay on top of your online presence. There are two ways to do this and you should consider using both as part of your system:
- Enable alerts on the platforms to notify you of any customer ratings, reviews, questions and messages.
- Set a recurring reminder in your email calendar or phone to review your online presence at least once a month. You might be able to look at the bigger items you must get right, or find some customer interactions that have slipped through the cracks.
That’s it, simple.
The result: A system in place that will inform you of every customer interaction and remind you to review and optimize your online profiles.
Key Takeaway for Small Businesses
Optimizing your profile will probably take a few hours to set up, and then around 1-2 hours per month to continually monitor and optimize.
It’s not that much time and really worthwhile in this generation where everyone researches a business online first. It’s a quick win that you shouldn’t miss out on, especially if you are serving local customers.
Before you go...
We all know that small business is about doing the little things right.
The little optimisations, the high-impact tweaks and the 1% gains you can make to your business to make it a little better, a little more profitable and even a little bit more pleasant to run.
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