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Five common mistakes small businesses make with their online presence

All small businesses need to know how to create a consistent online presence. 54% of small businesses currently have a website, but this isn’t nearly enough if you want to create an effective web presence in order to approach potential customers.

Often small business owners can feel overwhelmed when trying to explore the most suitable online opportunities. So to help out, here are some of the most common mistakes they can avoid in 2017.

1) Ignoring local SEO

97% of Internet users search for local businesses online, which means that a business cannot afford to ignore local SEO and its potential benefits.

Local SEO helps you attract customers who perform searches for a particular location, such as “sushi in NYC”. By optimising your site for local queries, you are helping customers discover your business and your services. Therefore reaching a new audience that’s interested in the most appropriate search results for the particular area.

The best ways to boost your local SEO are:

  • Verify your Google My Business listing: Google My Business connects your business with customers. Once you verify your page you can update your NAP (name, address, phone), add the right categories for your business and a relevant description. This helps customers find more information about your business, increasing the chances of attracting more visits.
  • Embed a Google Map in your website: A Google Map that links to the Google Plus local listing allows your business to offer all the required information to its customers.
  • Optimize meta tags and page content for local keywords: It can be beneficial for a business to add the city and the state in the title tag and the meta description to increase the clicks derived from local search results.
  • Use consistent contact information across your online profiles: It is important for every business to maintain a consistency on its contact information on every online source, from its site, to its social networks, or Google My Business and Yelp.

2) Not having an accessible site for the modern connected user

As modern connected users become more demanding, businesses should ensure that they pay special attention to mobile optimisation, site speed, and overall usability.

According to a survey from Google, 72% of mobile users consider it important for a website to be mobile-friendly. In fact, a mobile-friendly website increases the chances of conversion and similar results occur when focusing on optimal site speed.

Even a 1 second delay in a website’s loading time can lead to a lost conversion of 7%, while 40% of users will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. This makes it imperative for a business to measure the performance of its website to examine the best ways to reduce its loading time.

Google has also recently introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in an attempt to increase the number of fast mobile web pages and help users enjoy their mobile experience without the frustration of slow loading pages.

Wired saw a 25% increase in click through rates from search results after implementing AMP, while Gizmodo noticed that 80% of its traffic from AMP pages was new.

As modern users become impatient in a fast-paced world, an accessible website should be a priority for a small business, improving the customer experience and beating the competition on important issues that are frequently ignored, although they still affect conversion.

3) Not taking advantage of customer reviews

Online reviews have become an important part of consumers’ purchasing decisions, with 88% of them trusting reviews as much as personal recommendations. The more reviews a business has, the higher the chances of earning trust among new customers.

Small businesses should encourage reviews as they serve as the best social proof when they are highlighted in a website. It’s important to find the best time to ask for them, while it may also be useful to incentivise consumers for each review with the right rewards.

Even the negative reviews can be helpful and every business should embrace them, building a trusting relationship with the prospective customers, while working towards improving its performance.

As online reviews still count as fresh content for a website, they can also contribute to an improved SEO, with review signals accounting for 9.8% of the total ranking factors that define a page’s position on search results.

4) Not joining up their data between online, offline and mobile

There is a growing challenge for small businesses expanding their online presence to come up with the best way to measure the effectiveness of their efforts.

It’s not just about examining the ROI for online marketing, now it’s more important to explore the best method to combine the data between online, offline and mobile marketing. This allows businesses to get a better understanding of how they should allocate their budget, finding what works and what can be improved.

The inability to combine these data sets leads to incomplete conclusions, which may turn into missed opportunities for increasing sales.

5) Not communicating with their customers

It’s vitally important for a business to understand its audience, as this will guide it towards future commercial goals.

A business with a good online presence pays attention to its customers and listens to their needs to become genuinely helpful. There’s more chance of increasing sales when businesses seek authentic relationships with existing and prospect clients.

The goal of building an online presence is to get closer to where the customers are and build meaningful, tangible engagement. Two-way communication between the business and the customer, all the way from initial user experience to any method of contact, should be measured and analyzed to prove the value and effectiveness of all touchpoints.

This will help businesses optimize every key point of engagement, helping to improve and iterate, to get maximum value from each.

These mistakes may be common, but they can all be fixed with a series of small steps in the right direction. And if a small businesses is feeling too daunted by these steps, there are companies devoted in helping them strengthen their SEO, such as Single Platform, a leading specialist in making it easy for local businesses to stand out online.

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by Christopher Ratcliff
source: Search Engine Watch

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