A snow day – rather than being a wasted business day – can be a great opportunity for business owners to step back and review your business’ online presence.

I talk to small business owners all the time and the most common thing I hear is that the day-to-day grind doesn’t leave time for reviewing their digital marketing.

“I’ll get to my website later!”

I’m here to tell you it can’t wait.

My advice: start with Google.

 

Google your business name

Load up www.google.com and search for your business’ name.

You may be surprised at what you see.

Did your website show up first? It definitely should if you searched for your business name. If not, a bigger problem may exist such as Google having banned your website, or your website being infected with malware.

Is the site’s title correct? The title is the big blue text area of the result. It should be your company’s name and location information (“XYZ Law Firm | City1 | City2| City3”). But we’ve often seen that region ignored, even on new websites, and showing up as “Homepage” or something generic which is not helping your search engine ranking.

Is the site’s description accurate? The description is the small text area that appears under the blue title. Often, this text – which is vitally important – simply contains the first paragraph of text found on your page. That is not ideal. It may not be an accurate description of your business and isn’t the way your business should appear for search engine optimization.

Sometimes your social media profiles will show up when you search for your business’ name. If they do, click on them all and see if they are accurate and being updated. If not, this is an area you should focus on improving.

Directory listings may also show up (such as Yelp and chambers of commerce). Review all these to be sure they are accurate and updated.

Your Google Business listing should also appear (on the right side of the page if you are using a desktop computer). If you didn’t manually create this listing, Google may have tried to make one for you. This is good and bad. Good because at least it’s there. But bad because it’s probably incomplete or incorrect. If the directory listing has a link that says “claim this business,” then it has been auto-generated and should be claimed via your primary business Google account, updated, and locked down from being claimed by someone else. (If you don’t have a primary business Google account, you need one. Go to www.google.com/business to get started). Your business hours should be added, too.

 

Google your competition

Did your competition just launch a new killer website or online feature? The only way to know is to look and this requires some poking around.

Search for regional competitors by name. Pay attention and check them all out. Go ahead and check pages two and three of the results, too. How do their websites look? Are they using social media? How frequently?

Search for national competitors (the big guys). See what they are doing and whether you can incorporate some of their ideas.

In the end, ask yourself who you would trust if you were a potential client.

 

Google your industry

Do a Google search for generic terms related to your business. Rather than searching for “XYZ Law Firm,” try a search for “lawyer near me” or a similar vague search term you think potential customers may use.

Where does your business show up?

You may be surprised to find a bunch of advertisements for competitors showing up before your business. Then, beneath all the ads, where does your website rank?

Depending on how you rank, this may point out the need to invest in online advertising, better search engine optimization (SEO), or a new website altogether.

Pull out your phone and try a voice search for your business. “Voice typos” are a growing area of concern and requires special handling. The most common thing you will find is that Siri or Cortana doesn’t understand the name of your business or name brands, and may change it into different words. So it’s important that your website is optimized to show up for the actual name, as well as the name Siri thinks she heard.

 

Google your location

Can people find your physical location? Check your Google Map marker; they are often wrong. Visit maps.google.com and search for your business name to check it out. Use satellite view to confirm that the Google marker is located correctly. If not, you’ll need to fix this.

Apple Maps is also important, too, because many new automobiles are using Apple Carplay for their navigation systems. Unfortunately, Apple Maps is often wrong, too, and requires that you check it manually and then submit corrections for review. The approval process can be daunting and requires an active website with corroborating information on it.

 

Conclusion

There are many aspects of online marketing, but Google is the cornerstone of it all right now. It’s hard to succeed if you aren’t optimized for Google.

Now get out there and play in the snow!

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