How small businesses can build their online presence

on 15 August, 2014

It can be a challenge to make sure your voice is heard, particularly when you’re a small business. It’s essential to make sure your customers know that their voice counts in order to stand out from the crowd.

One way of doing that is to establish a voice online. Creating a full website may not always be right for every company, but maximising social media and review sites has quite the impact in building an online presence with personality.

Below are some top tips on how to build your company’s online presence:

Be visible

The online world is becoming increasingly important, and being visible on review sites is a key factor for businesses looking to connect with consumers. People turn to the internet to help them decide how and where to spend their money, so make sure you are part of that debate and decision.

While you want people to talk about you, it’s also vital that they can talk to you. Be part of the conversations around your company, and use the feedback you receive to help build it. Make it easy for people to engage with your company and know that their opinion is valued; this key part of your business is achieved largely through your online visibility

Your profile

As well as simply being visible, your online presence is a great opportunity to communicate how the company operates and the personality behind it. Your profile page is where people go to find information about your business and discover which products and services you offer. The simple act of claiming your profile and filling it out can have a marked impact on new client acquisition. A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group illustrated that by claiming their free Yelp page, businesses see an average revenue increase of $8,000.

Make sure the information listed is correct, including pricing, business hours, the nearest public transport links, and anything else relevant to your product or service. Ensure that a potential customer has absolutely everything they need right at their fingertips, and they may well become a loyal customer for life

Tell your story

Most people who share their name, company and what they represent online express a narrative. If you talk to customers directly by telling your story, they are far more likely to want to talk to you. Connect with your potential customers and make yourself interesting to them.

Bring it to life with images

Images are a fantastic way to really showcase your business. Research we carried out at Yelp indicates that users stay over 2.5 times longer on business pages that have photos on them compared to those that don’t, so the best way to keep people engaged is to highlight the services that you provide with lots of great pictures.

Pick colourful and vibrant photos, and make sure there are enough of them to really make your profile interesting. The photos must be up to date, so you can manage expectations and make your business seem more real. Uploading your own photos adds a personal touch and an understanding of what you can provide, giving you the edge over companies that don’t.

As a closing point, think of your online listing on sites like Yelp as a window into your business. It is important that everything is correct, neat, tidy, and representative of what you do, as well as engaging. If this is not the case, potential customers will simply move along to the next window.

Elliot Adams is senior European communications manager at Yelp.

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