[1165 words | 4 minute read]
Growing your business online and getting noticed can feel a lot like being at your first high school dance before you hit your growth spurt. All the guys are bigger than you and push you out into the hallway where you sulk because you just want to show off your dance moves that you’ve been working so hard on. Having a great business model and product or service isn’t enough anymore. You have to be like the quarterback with the letterman’s jacket and feathered hair that gets all of the girls swooning over him, but this is hard to do starting out. Luckily there are some great ways to grow your online business that are easy to do.
Get on Google Plus
You’re probably already on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin since you’ve heard that those are the “big three” social platforms for businesses, but I would argue that Google Plus is more important to be active on. The interaction is more professional and engaging than Facebook, of greater depth than on Twitter, and much more user friendly than Linkedin. It’s not a ghost town like many people claim and, in fact, it is the second largest social media platform in the world and is only behind Facebook. Not to mention that it seamlessly syncs up with Gmail, YouTube, Google Local (found on Google Plus), Google Now, and other branches of Google’s ever growing tree.
Provide Unique Content
Every Tom, Dick, and Harry can write a “How to Increase Traffic” article because it’s been written a thousand times before. Viewers don’t want to see the same content on multiple sites. So even if you rewrite an article to get by Google’s duplicate content tests, don’t host content that doesn’t offer anything new to readers. This is doubly important if you are link building for your business. Webmasters are much more willing to give you a link to a landing page that offers a great resource to their readers. Find out what is missing in your niche and build great content around that idea.
Get Listed in Every Directory You Can
Many people think directories aren’t worth it anymore because Google is devaluing those links. Stop thinking this way. If the directory hosts a lot of traffic and is relevant to your niche, then by all means enable your account on the site! Yelp, Yellow Pages, SuperPages, and a host of other relevant directories are available for you to list your business on and get in front of potential customers. No, you’re not doing these for the backlinks that the directories provide for SEO purposes. You’re doing this because it makes sense. People use these sites to find reviews, contact information, and to search for services. Not being on them is like not even going to the dance in the first place.
Utilize Rich Snippets
Another added benefit of being on Google Plus is being able to utilize all of the rich snippets that Google supports in its search engine results pages (SERPs). Here are examples of a few of the rich snippets that can help to entice clicks on your links on search engines:
Ratings and Reviews
This highlighted rich snippet allows you to show the average rating of the product featured on the page as well as how many reviews there are, the price of the product, and whether or not it is in stock.
As you can see hear, the music rich snippet gives details about albums or songs such as album title and the length of the song. The song titles are clickable links that take you directly to the player.
The recipe rich snippet offers the searcher an image of the food, the ratings and reviews found on the page, and information like preparation time and calories.
Perhaps one of the most powerful rich snippets, Authorship allows your headshot to appear alongside links to your Google Plus profile and links to more articles of yours. This helps to build your name in your niche and adds credibility to your articles. Not to mention, when Author Rank goes live you’ll be able to build influence for yourself as well.
These are only a few examples of what rich snippets can do on your page. If you want to incorporate them all you need is some simple coding and more information can be found here. Rich snippets have been proven to increase the click through rate when the links are seen on Google and other search engines since they stand out when compared to the normal links.
Address Positive and Negative Reviews Alike
In store comment cards have been thrown by the wayside and building social profiles for your business and claiming business on directories like Yelp opens your business up to critique from the public like never before. Fostering positive reviews on these channels builds your brand in a very strong way as people trust the communities found within those sites for unbiased information. Even if you put customer testimonials on your website, people will view them with a degree of distrust since you are in control of what testimonials you feature. On sites like Yelp or Google Local you have no such control and people can write scathing reviews, and how you address these can make all of the difference.
Be sure to manage even the worst reviews with a calm demeanor and a level head. Try to solve the problem by responding to the comments and trying to contact the individual privately via email or telephone. Many times, if you can resolve a problem, the person is likely to write about how the issue was resolved which shows that your business has good customer support. Of course, there are times when a review is a flat out lie or the person is being unreasonable. If this happens, respond fairly and make sure you can document how you’ve tried to solve the issue. If a middle ground cannot be reached and you feel that this is an unfair portrayal of your business, you can contact the directory administrators with a request to remove the review. If they feel you have done everything in your power to solve the issue and that the reviewer is being unreasonable, they will usually take the review down.
Growing your online business is not easy and it takes more than a Kevin Costner movie to get people to visit your site and, more importantly, to trust your brand and stick around to read what you have to say or make a purchase. These tips are things that everyone should be able to do and have been proven to help build a site’s presence online. In addition to this, it is also important to have a strong onsite and offsite SEO campaign in mind in order to help you rank well for your keywords. Pairing this with the above tips can help to insure that you’re getting more visitors every day.