Having lived on Malta for a while now I’ve seen all these small businesses, restaurants, shops, cafées etc. All of them with very entrepreneurial and driven owners. But what should a small business owner really focus on when it comes to their online presence? Below are some things I regard as more important than investing in advertising, flashy websites or keyword PPC.
Claim your location in Google and Apple Maps
The first thing any business should do is to claim their Google Maps location. Google Maps have over a billion users and integrates to various services. Not being on Google Maps would be like not being in the yellow pages forty years ago. Yet many both large and small businesses have incomplete profiles.
I think it goes without saying that when adding your Google Maps location you should make sure that the entry is as complete as possible. Always add an image, all the contact information available, opening hours etc.
Similarly a business should be listed in Apple Maps. Apple Maps is installed on basically all new Apple devices.
Track your reviews in Google Maps
Google is the world’s largest search engine with over 40 000 search queries per second. When someone Googles your business one of the more prominent positions in the search results will be the reviews.
It’s been proven time and time again that online reviews drives business. Sometimes I hear businesses saying that reviews does not matter for B2B, but it does. Decision makers Google as much as regular end-consumers.
Checking reviews of your business in Google Maps should be done regularly, reviews should be responded to. If you have positive reviews, don’t hesitate to thank the customer for sharing their positive experience about your business.
If someone is not happy with your business try to respond in a polite manner and have a positive approach. Never-ever try to discredit the customer in the review section, instead try to turn the negative customer into a happier customer. Diverting the conversation to e-mail or phone is also a way to go. For example “We are sorry to hear that our product was not what you expected, please reach out to us on firstname.lastname@example.org to organize a return”.
Finding your audience
When you as a business have managed to secure your Google and Apple Maps presence and are monitoring your reviews it’s now time to cater to your audience in other channels.
Having an active social media presence is a basic for any business. It makes sense to first cater to social media networks that are specific to your audience. For example if you run a hotel, restaurant or café TripAdvisor is one of the more important ones to be active on.
The basic social media network today is Facebook and having a page there regularly being updated with comments responded to is a good next step. There are some businesses where Facebook does not make sense to start with. For example if you are targeting other companies or professionals LinkedIn should be your first choice.