Everything I just mentioned is critically important to the success of a small business. It's imperative to have the proper information in front of the most important people – current and potential customers. If I were a current customer and was having a hard time finding you online, I probably wouldn’t be a current customer anymore. This would frustrate me and would heavily affect my experience with you. If I were a potential customer and I found your listing online with the address incorrect and the hours of operation incorrect, I would not consider you anymore. You would be out of the question from that point forward.
Greetings from Columbus, Ohio. As I was typing that it still didn’t feel right. I'm new to the Columbus area, originally from Cleveland, OH. In the nine-plus weeks I've lived in Columbus, I've noticed a few frustrating things as I've been searching for a new "everything" (doctor, dentist, car wash, gas station, grocery store, laundromat, gym, eye doctor, pizza place, pet groomer, veterinarian and doggy day care.) It's been hard to find these places online with proper listings, correct information, accurate hours of operation and correct phone numbers. It doesn’t make sense to me why a business would be ok with having inaccurate information floating around the internet. Some may not know any better, some may know and not know how to fix it, and some may know and maybe don’t care, I hope not.
As a business, you should consider anyone who's not doing business with you a potential customer. You may not be the best fit for them right now, but in the future, maybe the near future – you could be a good fit. You want to make sure to have made a good impression on those potential customers and are easy for them to find. This is a very simple concept every business should strongly consider when thinking about their web presence. “Am I easy to find?”, “Is the customer experience easy and enjoyable?” These are questions you need to ponder anytime you are considering your digital presence. The most important part of the digital landscape is having an accurate online profile and easy, enjoyable experience for the potential customer and current customer.
I've noticed in this market there are a ton of new OSU grads walking about representing a ton of "new to the city" people in general. For a business to have inaccurate listings is to say “I don’t need to be found by all these new people.” This is ludacris! You wouldn’t put a CLOSED sign on your front door during business hours, so don’t let it happen on your website, or anywhere online for that matter.
After a few weeks of living here, I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences with you in hopes that the list I’ve put together will help you be found easier by potential customers and help you earn some additional business (lowest hanging fruit) from people who are searching for exactly what you offer.
6 Tips on Being Found Easier
- Google Maps, Google Maps, Google Maps. Did I mention Google Maps? Since I have moved here I can tell you that Google Maps is the number one app I've used for finding what I'm looking for. If you aren’t on Google Maps, I won’t know you are there. Google Maps serves as a search engine and GPS for many potential customers, and you want to make certain you're found.
- Be on as many listing and indexing sites as you can. Some people like me will only use google maps. There are people who exclusively use Yahoo!, Bing, dogpile (yes dogpile is a real search engine) and many other mini-search engines and indexing sites people use to find local businesses. Make sure you're on as many of these sites as you can. This is free, or you can pay for a service to do this for you. The free, DIY version entails you literally having to create listings for yourself on ALL of these different sites, and if you opt for the more time-effective choice and pay for a service it will include a listing, but you'd need to build some sort of profile on these sites. The way I look at it is every time you're served-up on any search engine it counts as an at-bat, and you can’t get any hits without stepping up to the plate.
- Have a mobile website. If a potential customer finds your website and can’t read the text or it takes longer than a few seconds to load up, or even has to readjust the screen to be able to read the text & make out the photos – they are leaving right away. They ain't got time for that. I frankly don’t want to do business with someone who doesn’t care about their online image and neither will your potential customers. Your website is not only your digital billboard, but it can be a very strong sales tool. A large percentage of your potential customers will end up on your website while they are researching and you don’t want your business to be the one getting passed over because of a bad user experience.
- Have correct and accurate Listings. I can’t believe how many businesses have inaccurate listings just from the ones I've searched. It's amazing. Potential customers WILL NOT consider you again if the first time they researched your business and called the number on your website and the phone number was disconnected or the hours of operation were wrong. Now, in their minds they can’t trust what you are putting out online so they will find someone who they can trust. This is the most important thing to understand. If you have bad listings you will not be considered now and you can forget about being considered in the future.
- Make the website experience easy for your customers. There are two things I feel very strongly about and your potential customers will as well. As a current customer, sometimes we just need your phone number or address or hours. Make certain they are front and center on your website, don’t make us hunt. Make sure potential customers and current customers don’t have to go fishing for the simplest contact information. Secondly, do not have any flash videos on your homepage. If you do this, it will affect your load up speed and could potentially scare off some potential customers. Like I said before, if it takes a few seconds longer than normal to load I'm moving on.
- Have a good Call to Action. Last, but certainly not least. Have a good call to action. Give us a reason to call you other than I need your service. Free Service Call, 10% First Buy, Call for a Chance to Win etc. We like this; it makes us feel like we are getting a good deal or somehow saving money. The deal doesn’t have to be crazy good. Just a small value-add to entice me and your other potential customers to not price shop.
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