As much of the world goes back into lockdown, many small business owners have the twin forces of time on their hands and procrastination running wild.
It’s been a while. Things were supposed to be better by now, and the light at the end of the tunnel is still a long way away.
You know you should be doing something… anything… to keep your business ticking over, but you’re not sure what.
Well, here are 5 things you can do over five days that will put your business in front of your potential customers without having to spend budget you don’t have.
DAY ONE : Activate or update your Google My Business listing
If you search for your own business you should see the info box to the right of the search results. When we search for Advent Communication – this is what we see:
See the link that says “Own this business” – if you haven’t already claimed your listing you can click here. If you have previously claimed your listing and you’re logged in to your Google account, you will see this :
and you will be able to edit your listing.
If you haven’t visited your listing for a while, now is the time to go through and update all your details. Add a service or product description. Add photos. Make sure all your contact details are up to date – including your opening hours. Link your social media profiles.
In short, go through the entire listing and add as much information as you can.
Google themselves tell us that in excess of 25% of your SEO juice comes from your listing – so make sure it is as complete as it can be.
DAY TWO : Install Google Analytics on your website
Google Analytics is a free service from Google which tracks visitor activity on your website. You will be able to see plenty of data about the number of visitors on your website – and what they do when they are there : which pages they visit, how long they stay, etc. – but also how they found you… did they find you on social media, through Google, through a directory link, etc.
To get started with Google Analytics you need to visit their website and register. Once registered, you will need to add a snippet of code on your website. There are many ways to do this – you can ask your webmaster… or us!
Our preference is to add GA through Google Tag Manager, but that can be a little daunting as it involves a little more web knowledge, but if your website is built in WordPress (and most are) then you can find a simple plug in that will do the job.
Once added you will be able to check it’s working by going into the Google Analytics dashboard, selecting “Real Time” to see the real time visitors on your site and then visiting your own site in an incognito window…. once the page loads you should see your own online visit showing in the Google Analytics display.
Whilst we’re here…. let’s do one more thing which will help in future… go the the left hand menu column and scroll down to the bottom – click on the “admin” link and with the property menu find the “Audiences” link. Add a new audience for All Visitors and give it a duration of the maximum 540 days…. this will start to build an audience for you which you will be able to use in future marketing activities with Google. These audiences build as visitors come to your site, so the sooner you activate this the better – get it done’ now and you can come back to it any time you want in the future…
DAY THREE : Let Google know you exist
Most people simply assume that if you have a website Google will find it, scour it for information, index it and then show your pages as results when people search for anything related to your products or services.
And, in theory, that’s true (kinda…)
In reality, Google is much dumber than it looks and it’s always a really good idea to tell it about your website, where it is and what it’s about. The best way to do this is by submitting a sitemap. Don’t worry, you don’t have to build this yourself. Again, if your site is built using WordPress then it’s a simple process. There are multiple plugins you can use, but our favourite (and that of millions of websites) is Yoast. Once you have Yoast installed, it’s a simple task to go to the general settings and click on the small question mark next to Sitemaps:
Click on the link to your site map and copy the url…
Now go to Google Search Console and add a new domain – this will be your domain, in our case it would simply be advent.es
Since you have already added Google Analytics, the system should verify the new domain without you needing to do anything else – but if you have problems there are a number of alternative ways to verify your new account. Again, your webmaster (or us!) can help you.
Once verified, there is an area for adding your sitemap link:
Google now knows that a) you have a website and b) what pages it should go and index. After a few days you will start to see data in your reports showing how people are finding your pages, who links to your website and if any of your pages have any errors. This last point is important – if Google encounters errors on your site it may not return any results for your page when people search for your products or services. Any errors should be fixed.
DAY FOUR : Get listed on local directories
Whilst this should not be overdone, and certainly you should avoid those scammers who offer to add your website to thousands of directories for a few dollars – it is well worth getting your business listed on a number of your local business directories. Most will have a free listing option – so start there!
You can run a search on Google itself to see which directories come up in the search results – a quick tip : search for your product or service and add your town to the query.
Go through the results and visit the directories that appear. Where possible, add your own listing.
Once this has been done, and if people are using these directories in your area, you will start to see visits to your website (in your Google Analytics reports) from these directories. If you find that one of these is particularly good at sending you valuable traffic, you might want to look at improving your presence with a paid listing. But, as a start, getting a free listing is best. Be prepared, the directory’s sales team will call you and try to get you to upgrade to a paid listing, but your response is simple… “I’m tracking visits to my website in Google Analytics and if your directory proves to be effective – don’t worry… I’ll be calling you to get a paid listing”
DAY FIVE : Start your blog – or start it again!
One of the things Google loves is fresh content. Google uses “bots” to visit your website to index the content – and those websites that are visited the most are those that post the freshest content. Think about this for a moment… which are the websites that you visit every day? A news site, facebook, a hobby site? The sites you visit most are likely to be sites that continuously offer fresh content.
If you visited a news site, and all the news was a day or two old, you’d stop visiting – and you wouldn’t recommend the page to friends. If, on the other hand, you found a new site that always seemed to be ahead of the pack for breaking news, that would probably become your go to resource for news.
This doesn’t mean that you need to be updating your website every few hours – far from it – but a happy medium between the core content that needs to always be there (the About Us section, the Contact page, etc) and interesting fresh content is what we should be aiming for.
Remember, no-one knows your business as well as you and your competitors. Are you going to let them become the authority on the subject, or should you at least get a place at the table.
People ask, when’s the best time to start a blog? The answer is always – five years ago…. But the second best time to start a blog is today. As soon as you start you are adding relevant content to your site.
Consider this article, for example, we’ve covered several important marketing concepts – once this article is published and submitted (through our sitemap) to Google, they will know that we have “something to do with” Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google My Business, Yoast and more… when someone searches for those terms in the future, this page might feature in the search results. If that person also adds that they are looking for those services in the Marbella area, we might feature more prominently.
But it’s not all about SEO – it’s also about letting your potential customers know that you know what you’re talking about. If, through your blog articles, you can demonstrate a solid understanding of what they need help with – be it marketing, financial management, taking care of their cat, or anything else – then you improve your chances of them contacting you.
Not sure what to write about? Here’s a great tip…. go to a forum that covers your broad area of expertise… and see what themes keep appearing. What are the questions that tend to come up time and time again? Could you answer them? The answer is almost certainly, yes. So there are your starting points.
Write about what you know. Be personable. You don’t have to be Shakespeare, just be yourself.
And if you have a blog, but it’s been sat dormant for a few weeks, months, or years, kick it back into life. Don’t make a rod for your own back – don’t fall into the trap of getting enthusiastic and writing 5 posts in three days and then nothing for 6 months. Set a schedule – write a post every 1st and 15th of the month… prepare them in advance so you have time to write them well (not rushed because you’ve just realised it’s 10pm on the 31st and you need to publish something (anything!) tomorrow. It’s not an obligation and if you miss one it’s not the end of the world… but a little bit of discipline goes a long way… and if something happens at work and you think, “That would be good on the blog” jot it down and get it written – most posts can be published on schedule.
Over time you will build up a repository of blog posts that will continue to bring traffic to your site years after you have written them. Our most read blog post is still one from 2015!
If you have some spare time on your hands, there is a lot you can do to make a start on improving your digital presence. I hope these 5 activities will help you build a better, more robust foundation for future marketing activity. If you’d like to get more out of online activity – why not subscribe to our newsletter here.