Small businesses have a lot of competition. Not only do they compete with other businesses of similar size, but they also have to compete with companies that are much larger and have more resources. With the opportunities offered by the internet even small companies can have the potential to sell goods or services all over the world. In order to do that they need to have a strong presence online.
That presence can be created through a website, which is the popular choice for many businesses. Other companies don't have a website, but they claim their Google My Business (GMB) page, so people can find them when they search for a product or service the company offers in their area. Which one of these is best for your business? Should you have both, or is one of them enough? Here's what to consider about both of these options.
It used to be that a GMB page was completely optional. Some companies had it and some did not. There were a few that used it in addition to their website, some that used it in place of, and some that didn't feel any kind of internet presence was really necessary. But all that has changed with Google My Business becoming more important than ever for companies to get found in local search results. Without a GMB page many companies lose out to their competition.
A GMB page offers your customers what they need to know when it comes to up-to-date company information. Refreshing it anytime something changes matters, even if that's just something small such as a one-hour change in your opening or closing time. Especially with the pandemic and the new world that seems to be developing from it, it's vital to make sure you're giving customers information they can rely on. If they feel they can't trust you they'll likely choose one of your competitors, instead.
Generally, that includes the hours and days you're open, what kind of protection protocols are required at your business, and other specifics. If customers think you're open on Sunday, but you've actually changed your hours to be closed on the weekends, your GMB page should reflect that. Otherwise, you're going to have some unhappy customers who may not come back on a day your company is actually available to them.
A GMB page is becoming the standard that many people look to when they're searching for companies in their area that provide a particular good or service. These potential customers may not even look at the standard search results that much if they have GMB results to consider. They'll generally focus on GMB listings because they know those listings are expected to be accurate and informational, above and beyond typical search result information.
Responding to Google reviews is a big part of building a GMB presence, as well. Your company should make sure it has someone to answer all reviews, whether they're good or bad. If you're a very small business that person is probably you. Somewhat larger companies that are still considered small businesses may have a PR person or someone who handles web-based interactions and development. You want to make sure anyone who is responding to reviews is thoughtful, diplomatic, and accurate.
It's tempting to ignore bad Google reviews, especially if the customer is at least partially correct and mistakes were made on the part of your company. But taking ownership of anything that went wrong is an important part of helping customers see that your business cares about them. You also want to set the record straight if the customer is truly in the wrong. To do that, though, make sure you provide factual information and avoid any opportunities to slight the customer or attack them personally.
By treating even rude customers with a reasonable level of respect you have a much better opportunity to be viewed in a positive light by other potential customers. It can be difficult to reply diplomatically to customers who have gone out of their way to be rude or impolite. But your company should take care to maintain a professional and respectful image. Waiting for a couple of days to answer a bad review is sometimes necessary, in order to make sure you don't respond in anger.
It's incredibly easy and inexpensive to set up a website today. Services such as wix.com, godaddy.com and goodle.com provide you with a simple sign-up process. They ask you questions to walk you through what kind of company you're creating a website for. They also offer templated designs for nearly all types of companies. That means you can choose a theme you like and have your site reflect that, instead of having to build the look and layout of your website pages from scratch, and the best part, you don't need to know any code.
One of the best reasons for setting up a website through these companies or a similar one is that they also offer SEO services. You'll be able to have a search engine optimized website that customers can find when they search for a product or service you provide in their local area. By showing up in online searches, and having a website as your professional presence, you show customers you're there for them and their needs.
Not only does a website make it easier for you to get found, but it also means you can provide customers with important information about your business. Your GMB page will give them the basics. However, it's not going to give them the rest of the story. That's what a website is for. You could start a blog on your site, for example, with updates and information about your company and your industry. You can also share pictures and video to help your customers relate to what you do and what you have to offer.
It's no longer complicated to create a great-looking website, and it doesn't take long to turn your business' information into something your customers can find and relate to. When your website gives customers answers to their questions about your business and its products or service those customers are more likely to seek you out for their needs. Many of your competitors probably have websites. It's harder to compete with them if you avoid creating one for your company.
Getting found by customers is what a website and a Google My Business page are for. But there's another piece of the puzzle that can add to your company's ability to get found in search results. You can do that by listing your business in national and local directories such as YauZer.com. Add your business to all the quality directories you can find, and make sure your company's name, address, and phone (NAP) are consistent across all the directories you use.
These directories are a lot like phone books for the internet age. They aggregate companies from the local area or from all over the country or world, depending on the directory. Then they provide customers with a group or list of the companies they believe those customers are looking for based on their search queries. It's similar to how a search engine handles things, but with a much smaller database of only companies that have registered with the directory.
Since a lot of small business owners don't know to add their information to these directories, companies that add their NAP to all the directories they can often find that they see an increase in customers. In short, people can find them when they may not be able to find their competition. It doesn't take long to add your business to these directories, and it's well worth doing for the value you'll get from them. Just make sure everything you provide is consistent, so customers don't get conflicting information about your company.
What's the bottom line? It's that both Google My Business and a website are important for your company's online success, as is making sure your company is listed in all the quality directories you can locate. As a summary, here's what you should be considering for your next steps:
Between a GMB page with accurate and up-to-date information, a quality website that adds to the customer experience, and inclusion in directories that work for your company's offerings, you can have the best chances of getting found online. That can translate into more customers and a better bottom line for your small business.