Creating An Effective Online Presence For Your Small Business

The article discusses how small businesses can leverage the internet to reach out to more customers and increase sales. However, just creating an online presence is never enough, things need to be done the right way – and, that is where small businesses can go wrong. Read on to learn how you can make it easier for prospective customers to find and do business with you online..

Do not Make It Hard For Me To Do Business With You

Who doesn’t love a good cupcake? They certainly seem to be one of the latest crazes around, with gourmet cupcake bakeries sprouting up all over the place, charging your senses with a little bit of sugary goodness.
Recently, there was an article in the local newspaper about a new gourmet cupcake store at the mall. Being cupcake connoisseurs-in-training, we were intrigued and wanted to learn more. Of course, the newspaper article didn’t refer to a website, so off to Google we went.

That’s when things started to fall apart…

Let Me Find You Online

We live in the Internet age. A lot of people head online when they want to find out more about a company or product. In the eyes of many, if you can’t be found, then you might as well not exist.

After putting the name of the cupcake store and state into Google, their site didn’t come up as a top search result. The mall that the store is in had a listing for them, so we clicked on that link, in search of more information. Sure enough, we found a link to the cupcake store’s website through the mall’s website. It quickly became apparent as to why the actual cupcake website didn’t show up in the search results.

The title (what appears in the top gray bar of your browser) of the cupcake website’s homepage simply said “Home”. This is not a good thing. At the very least, the title of the homepage should be the name of the store, and then maybe something about what they do (make and sell cupcakes). There should be keywords in the title of any site, in order for it to be found.

Most casual Internet users won’t have a clue about SEO (search engine optimization), but people who design websites should. There are certain things that you must do to a website for it to rank in a search engine for applicable keywords (what people type into the search engine). It is basic SEO that you need to have a title that says something other than “Home” if you want to have a fighting chance at being found online.

The Hits Keep Coming

There was plenty more wrong with the cupcake website, even if you ignore most of the stuff like certain cupcake pictures being sideways and having dark pink text on a light pink background, which is horrible from a readability standpoint.

The website prominently displayed that they have a Twitter account where you can find the flavors of the day, as well as what special deals they were running. Problem is, there was only one Tweet on their account, from 6 months ago! Guess they don’t understand the concept of reaching out to their customers via social media.

Another issue with their site is the omission of store hours. How does a prospective customer know when they can come to get their little piece of sugary heaven? Oh, that’s right, mall hours can be found on the mall’s website, so why should they be on the cupcake website? Really???

A quick phone call was placed in hopes of finding out the store hours. At this point, and it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, their answering message said nothing more than the name of their store and to leave a message after the beep. No store hours. No mention of their not-so-brilliant website. Unfortunately, the majority of business owners just don’t get it.

Don’t Make The Same, Simple Mistakes

Your business needs an online presence, but it takes more than slapping up a website and crossing your fingers, hoping for the best. You need to take search engine optimization into account. If you don’t know anything about this (and chances are, you probably don’t – you are a business person, not a web designer), either study up, or find someone that knows what they are doing. You are shooting yourself, and your business, in the foot if you don’t.

Learn how to use social media to your advantage. There are constant stories in the news about how restaurants, and the like, are using Twitter and Facebook to their advantage, bringing in the customers. If your company can benefit from social media, make sure you use it, and do so correctly.

Any point of contact you have with your customers, including telephonic conversations, should get the point across that your company is the one to do business with. Always cross reference your website, which should contain the information prospective customers are looking for. Make customers want to spend their money with you, instead of looking for a wall to bang their head against.

None of this is rocket science, yet you might think otherwise when you see what small businesses are doing. Most of it is common sense. All you need to do is to find someone that can help you with these little details that will help take your business from a wannabe, to a contender.

Make us want to buy a cupcake from YOU, instead of wanting to throw our hands up in the air and go buy a cake mix from the store.


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