7 Top Methods for Online Small Business Credibility
It was the weekend, and I had settled down to get in some fun time. My wife came into the office to let me know that her computer had died. She’s ignored it for about a month while working on her laptop, so I figured that she may have accidentally pulled the power cable out or something.
Nope. Her assessment (as usual) was correct. Since it was one of those small form factor machines, I decided I would not scrape my knuckles off, taking it apart to troubleshoot it. I was going to contact a local computer repair guy I knew from a few years ago, but I couldn’t find his business card.
I stopped searching and went straight to the computer. My usual local search terms pulled up a lot of Yelp and local directories, but not my computer guy’s information. To my surprise, I couldn’t find him on the first or second page in a local Google search anymore. Instead, I waded through three pages of review sites and online directories before finding my guy. This was troubling to me.
Most searches end on page one. The chances of being found on page three of a Google search are slim.
Here are a few stats to consider regarding the power of Google searches.
· Every day, over 3.5 billion Google searches are conducted.
· Google accounts for 76% of all global searches.
· New Google search results make up 16–20% of all results each year.
· Google searches from mobile devices account for over 60% of all searches.
Why? Because as a small business, you need to show up on the first page of google for your most common local keywords in order to beat out your completion online. Even more troubling was that your competitors aren’t who you’re competing with at this point. It’s the review sites and directories.
Review sites are upstaging local business sites for top ranking local keywords. This is important because not only are they diluting the efforts of small business websites to promote themselves, they are also leaving them open to potential negative reviews or, with some online directories, outdated information regarding the business.
This can kill the credibility of the company. If the first thing that a search result shows about your business is an irate comment, or the wrong contact information, you’re losing out on potential sales. You may not be willing to invest to get back on page one for these keywords. However, you need to ensure that your credibility isn’t tarnished by careless online directories or problems with discontented reviewers.
Why do you need to be credible before you can succeed in your market on the Web? In a local market, businesses have to pull from a smaller pool of prospects. If there is healthy competition, they have to work harder to keep their customers satisfied as they continue to generate new leads and convert them. Every little bit helps to make that job easier.
The Internet can make the process less taxing on otherwise busy entrepreneurs. Having a strategy to build credibility online while appealing to new prospects can help. Even better if the process can be done without overburdening the business owner. A regular stream of content related to the business and aimed at informing or educating consumers will be supported by the search engines.
Gaining and Maintaining Online Credibility
Gaining online credibility can snowball your income without increasing your workload. This isn’t hyperbole. Many small businesses have found themselves suddenly swamped with potential customers because they were “discovered” by some influencer. It could be a piece of content that went viral or current events related to their market was linked to their article of video.
Many movie and TV stars who suddenly became famous have been in the business for years prior to becoming fan favorites. When you put your business in the position to be discovered, you’ll find that there are many perks along the way. You gain fans who look forward to your content and that usually puts you in good stead with the search engines as well.
Even without the luck of sudden celebrity, your content can drive more people to your offers. Content can be a slow rolling avalanche that continues to bring benefits long after the work has been done. This is especially true if you produce video content.
Regular content could help to bring your web presence back to the first page of Google. One good thing about the search engine algorithms now is that they value audience convenience above search engine optimization. Sure, the directories and review sites have more pull because they are bigger and more credible on the surface, but Google is looking out for the consumer.
The Importance of Value Added-Content for Your Audience
Let’s say that you are my computer fixer guy and you used to be on the first page for your local computer related keywords recently. You decide that you’d like the extra boost of revenue that comes from being on top again. How can you beat the directories and review sites? The answer is boosting your online credibility.
Google looks for your keywords on your site, we know that. But they also connect your website to content on various links around the web. These links are counted base on their credibility. For example, if you have videos on YouTube that link to your web articles, that definitely counts in your favor.
What if you had different social media posts connecting to your web pages? Maybe you have a regular feature on Quora where you answered questions related to computer problems. How about a weekly video on Facebook that covers taking care of your laptop?
If you’re short on time but full of advice ideas, you might choose to post a weekly infographic on computer troubleshooting tips. All these ideas can be collected and included in a content marketing plan. If you develop the plan and work with an assistant, you’ll find that within a few months, you’ll show up ahead of the review sites again.
The Top 7 Media Strategies for Reaching Your Audience.
1. Write articles that matter to your audience.
2. Create Your Blog or Writing for Syndication.
3. Develop a YouTube Channel.
4. Publish a Book for a Specific Audience.
5. Produce a Podcast for Fun and Profit.
6. Present InfoGraphics to Your Audience.
7. Make a Presentation in Front of a Live Audience.
Before you start, you’ll need to develop the right brand positioning for your niche. I saved this for last because most entrepreneurs and small business owners really don’t want to face the fact that they need this in their tool belt. I’m talking about positioning.
Before you produce content, it’s wise to establish a firm brand foundation.
· Who are you and what are you known for?
· What makes you better than your competitors?
· How do you relate to your audience?
Brand positioning is extremely important to your bottom line. Brands that are consistently presented see an average revenue increase of 33%.
- Determine your current brand positioning.
- Identify your competitors.
- Conduct competitor research.
- Identify what makes your brand unique.
- Create your positioning statement.
- Evaluate if your positioning works.
- Establish an emotional connection with prospects and customers.
How Brand Positioning helps your bottom line.
The goal of online credibility is to develop your Brand Positioning. The goal of brand positioning is to increase trust in your offer to set it apart from your competition. People who are acquainted with your brand are more likely to choose familiarity over novelty when deciding to make the purchase. Keep watch on your online citations and ensure that negative comments are addressed.
Online credibility can be broken with adverse publicity, angry customers leaving critical reviews or other problems affecting the business. News travels quickly in local circles therefore, it’s crucial for a small business owner to stay on top of any negative news that may affect their business.
A regular citation audit can help to stop negative reviews or online complaints in its tracks. Subscribe to Google Alerts and enter your company name and other relevant topics to get notifications about your company, competitors and your industry. This will go a long way to keep you abreast of what’s going on.
I can’t overstate the importance of establishing communications with the public in small business success strategies. There are some rough times ahead if we don’t figure out how to hedge against the global challenges that affect our livelihoods. Branding and content marketing can help to secure our relationship with our prospects and customers.
Here are a few statistics on the value of engagement for local marketing.
· According to HubSpot, mobile devices now account for more searches than desktops.
· Social media posts are the most effective type of content for B2C.
· The most effective channels to reach older online users are Facebook and YouTube. Snapchat and Instagram rule for the younger demographic.
· The Demand Metric company reports 7 out of 10 consumers prefer articles and blogs to traditional advertisements for finding out more about a company or learn something.
· Approximately 32% of consumers first check out a brand’s social media presence before checking out their website, according to Animoto.
· In Cisco’s forecast, 80% of all Internet traffic will be video traffic in 2021, which means brands must develop a video content strategy.
· The Demand Metric report also shows that content marketing generates three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less.
So, is it necessary to be on all the different social media platforms and publish a book in order to get results? No. I would suggest picking the area you like best or have the most interest in. One caveat is that your audience must use that platform as well.
Consistency is important in delivering content to your audience. If possible, have another person help you in producing your content. They can assist or take charge of the process while you do what you’re good at; running your business.
Have a plan and a calendar for your production and publication. Even if you’re producing content monthly, be sure to stay consistent. Both the search engines and your audience will reward you for consistency. I will not try to convince you it will be easy.
When I informed my computer guy that he dropped from the first page to the fourth in Google for the most common local search terms, he was surprised. Although he did very little SEO on his site, he assumed everything was still okay. I also suggested that he check his online reputation to ensure that any negative comments or out-of-date information were corrected.
Small business owners have to stick together these days. We have a lot of work to do just to keep up, but it’s important that we address the small things to ensure that they don’t become impediments to our success. After all, when that piece of content eventually goes viral, or some influencer discovers us, we need to be prepared for fame.