When it comes to online marketing most small business owners seem to be at a loss.
That’s why I have put together this guide of 10 awesome online marketing tips for small business owners.
Although there isn’t any magic recipe or silver bullet, there is a range of actions that small business owners can put in place to increase their online visibility and drive more customers to their store.
Here is a list of 10 great online marketing tips which will help you take your small business to the next level.
Online marketing tip number 1: Create an outstanding GOOGLE MY BUSINESS profile.
With billions of searches performed every day in Google, a GMB (Google My Business) listing is a must if you run a small business.
It gives you the opportunity to be found in Google’s organic local results…
…as well as Google Maps
When you create a Google My Business listing the accuracy of the information you provide is paramount.
The way you format the name, address and phone number of your business
For example “Mercer & Sons, Plumbing” is very different to “Mercer and Son ” MUST be the same as all other places that your business is mentioned online. plumbing.
Google will struggle to recognise these two names and descriptions as the same business.
PRO TIP:To avoid making mistakes just use the business details that are on your business cards. Apply the same format everywhere you list your business online. Your business cards can be used as a template. Sounds funny? Fifty percent of small businesses list their business details inaccurately.
Choose your business category very carefully. Be as specific as possible. There are hundreds of categories to choose from and you can easily make a mistake.
Online marketing tip number 2: Hire a professional photographer.
Why? Because perception is reality.
Images are extremely powerful in conveying emotions and helping to connect with an audience. As humans we understand visuals a lot faster than we understand copy.
An MIT study published in 2014 suggests that we can understand the meaning of an image in only 13ms! But there’s more. Even when an image is seen for just 13 milliseconds, your brain continues to process it. In short, images linger in your head longer than the written word.
According to Mike Parkinson, who is the founder of the very successful Billion Dollar Graphics, people process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.
Not convinced? Look at the drawing below published by mike Parkinson to illustrate his findings
Which one was easier to understand?
Let’s have a look at a practical example and play a little game. I randomly searched for “flowers online” and came across two websites. Which one do you think is using high spec images? How do you perceive these businesses?
Apple Yard Flowers
The flower shop at home
PRO TIP:Make sure you get your money’s worth. Ask the photographer to shoot as many scenarios as possible. Include shots with members of staff or customers. All pictures can be used for multiple purposes – your website, your Google My business profile, your social media campaigns etc., which will help you to maintain brand consistency.
High quality images can make or break your business. People do not read on the internet these days, they just look at images and videos. Make sure the images you use are worth looking at and inspire people to come and pay you a visit.
Online marketing tip number 4: Use video testimonials
I know this may be a little bit daunting at first but trust me, it is very powerful and a lot easier than you think.
Video testimonials are far more engaging and convincing than text testimonials.
According to a study conducted by comScore, people who watch videos are likely to stay two minutes longer on your site than if they were just reading copy.
Kenley Dental Practice located in Croydon is a great example. They have created some very good video testimonials. Sadly they are not using them on their home page which I feel would be a lot more effective.
Video testimonials will also give more credibility to your business.
Firstly, it’s a lot easier to fake a text testimonial than a video testimonial which means that potential customers are more likely to believe what they are seeing.
Secondly, and still according to comScore, 64% of visitors are more likely to buy a product after watching a video.
PRO TIP:The video must be genuine and from a real life customer. It is important that you ask their permission to use it for your site. To make it totally genuine it is important to display their details – such as name, surname and job title for example – so that people can see it is not a fake testimonial. Finding customers who are willing to do this is probably your biggest challenge, so use your sales skills (offer them something for free)
Kenley Dental Practice clearly used a professional service to create their videos, however, you can easily do it yourself. A lot of mobile devices such as ipads, Nokias and iphones have decent in-built cameras these days.
You may need to invest in a microphone so it doesn’t sound amateurish.
Online marketing tip number 5: Make your website mobile friendly.
A big chunk of your potential customers will find your website through a search they have conducted on a mobile phone. If your site is not optimised for mobile devices the chances are you will lose a lot of prospects.
According to a Google study, 50% of consumers who conduct a local search on their mobile will visit a store within a day
Online reviews play a key part in the decision making process for anyone who is searching for a local business. This applies to any business type.
If you don’t have any reviews – or worse, if you have negative reviews – then your business will suffer.
You will also be missing out on better online visibility.
Google takes into account the number,and quality, of the reviews your business gets to determine your business ranking in its search results
PRO TIP:You cannot satisfy 100% of your customers, so you may get some negative reviews. Do not be alarmed by them, simply address them as quickly as possible and in a professional manner. This strategy will only add to the credibility of your business.
Online marketing tip number 8: Help search engines understand your business with schema markup
In June 2011 the three biggest search engines, Google, Bing and Yahoo agreed on a common initiative called schema mark-up.
Schema mark-up is essentially a type of code that helps search engines understand information that is published on a website.
Although it is not widely used it can help boost visibility in search engine results as it will improve the relevance of a page.
In the example below, schema mark-up was used to display additional information for a chili con carne recipe such as star rating, time it takes to cook and number of calories.
See the difference in Google search results without schema mark-up. Which one would you click on?
With schema markup
Without schema markup
Schema mark-up is particularly useful for a local business and will help to display information such as your business type, its location , its name, business hours, reviews, menus, events and much more in search results.
PRO TIP:You should use schema mark-up first and foremost to specify your geographical location and contact details as these elements are key to helping Google display your business in its local search results.
This music hall venue in Clapham, London uses schema-mark-up to display upcoming events making the listing in Google more informative and taking up more real estate on Google’s result page.
Online marketing tip number 9: Spy on your competitors’ keywords
If you want to beat your competitors in search engines you have to be better than them at what they do. The best way to do that is to spy on them. No need to invest in some fancy gadgets or be involved in some illicit activity. The web is a wonderful place, there are many tools out there which will help you to do that…and it’s totally legal.
The first thing you can look at is the keywords that your competitors are using to drive people to their site. If they have been running their businesses for a while you can be sure they’ve already done their homework and know which keywords are worth targeting.
The simplest way of doing this is to open a bowser window and bring up your competitors’ websites.
From there, just hover on the page tab as illustrated in the image below and the actual page title that Google sees will show. The title of the page will contain the keywords your competitor wants to rank for as this is one of the strongest signals for search engines.
Here, Pimlico roofing is clearly targeting people searching for Roof repairs, guttering, downpipe fitting.
You can repeat this process with all your competitors and narrow down your keyword list based on your business and the search volume for those keywords you want to target. Although useful, this is a fairly manual process and not the most efficient way of spying.
For something more precise you can use a free tool provided by Google called Keyword planner. You will need to create an account with Google but apart from that it is free of charge.
Once on the Google keyword planner you have the option to enter a website address in one of the fields and Google will simply spit out the keywords it believes the page is relevant for, including the number of monthly searches for those keywords.
PRO TIP:: If you’re just launching your website, try to choose keywords that are not too broad as the competition will be very high. It will be easier to achieve ranking for “gutter cleaning west London” than “guttering”
Online marketing tip number 10: Be patient
Do not expect to find your site right at the top of Google and customers to flood through the doors of your business overnight. It takes time, dedication and effort to get results and improve your online visibility but it is worth it.
You do not have to implement all these tips in one go. Online marketing is a continuous effort. When the number of web visitors – and consequently customers – grow because of your efforts DO NOT REST ON YOUR LAURELS.
Google changes the rules frequently so one day your business could be at the top of search results and invisible the next. Most importantly, respect the guidelines, provide the most relevant and compelling information and content you can on your site and you will be rewarded for it.
Now it’s up to you
What do you think of these marketing tips?
Perhaps you have a question concerning something more specific about your business.
Either way, you can leave a comment here: or submit your question here.
I will reply to your comments or even make a video to answer your question so that everybody can benefit from it.