Many businesses don’t realize just how important it is to have an online presence. As of 2020, 97% of search engine users search online to find a local business and 28% of local searches result in a purchase. In this post, I’d like to discuss the four steps that have become mandatory for any business to get online in 2020. I recommend reading the entire post to understand how these steps work together to build your online presence.
1. Get your own domain and custom email address.
Email addresses behind your own domain allow your customers to build confidence in your business. Which seems more trustworthy: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com? If you’re like most consumers, you will prefer firstname.lastname@example.org.
In fact, 77% of customers trust businesses that have their own domain, and 64% of customers have little to no trust in businesses that use free email addresses. That is an absolutely massive percentage of potential business you’re losing if your email comes from Gmail or Yahoo.
Getting your own domain is simple. There are many online services that allow you to register a domain.
- Google Domains offers a quick and easy domain registration and allows you to use Gmail as your email interface.
Domains are extremely affordable and typically cost between $10 and $20 a year.
2. Get a simple business website.
It’s important to have a website that potential customers can use to discover your business and get valuable information about your services. There are a number of services available that make creating a website simple:
If you already have your own domain (from step 1 above), these services will allow you to use your own domain for your website. If you don’t have your own domain yet, many of these services allow you to register your domain while you are building your website. This can make the process very easy.
Your website does not need to be complex; a single page often does the job. While you are making your website, keep in mind that there are a few pieces of data that you must have in order to help your customers:
- Business Name – Make sure your customers know what business they are looking at and make sure they see it often.
- Contact information – Having an email address and phone number is critical. Many potential customers will want to ask questions before choosing to hire you or purchase from you.
- Address – If a customer needs to visit your business, be sure to list your address on your website. According to Search Engine Land, address information is the #1 piece of information sought by local searchers.
- Explanation of services – Customers often evaluate and compare the services offered by multiple businesses before making their decision.
- Positive reviews – This piece of information is often overlooked by businesses but is one of the most important. 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, making reviews one of your most valuable marketing tools.
3. Claim your business on Yelp & Google
Claiming your business on Yelp is quick and easy, and 56% of local retailers have not claimed their Google My Business listing.
The Boston Consulting Group has found that business owners see an average of $8,000 annual revenue from being on Yelp. That should be the only reason you need to add your business to Yelp. However, if you’re looking for additional reasons, here are a few:
- You will be found by potential customers who use Yelp to search for local businesses.
- You might already be on Yelp. Many business listings on Yelp are first created by a reviewer and not the business owner. Claiming your business allows you to control the information that displays.
- You can add photos of your business and the services or products you offer.
- You can respond publicly to reviews. If someone leaves an unfounded negative review for your business, you can make sure that future Yelpers understand exactly why that review was unfounded.
- You will get notified when someone leaves a new review of your business, allowing you to be aware of what information other potential customers can see.
4. List your business on Google Maps and Apple Maps.
Much like adding your business to Yelp, adding your business to Google Maps or Apple Maps provides additional visibility. BrightLocal’s recent consumer survey found that the vast majority of consumers search for local businesses online, many performing this search from their phones. Only 44% of businesses have claimed their business listing on Google, which means that claiming your listing can give you a significant advantage over your competition. Follow these links to claim your business on Google and Apple now.