By Terry Corbell
The Biz Coach
Best Practices to Optimize Your Brand, Manage Your Web Reputation
As you no doubt know, the digital age has brought new challenges and opportunities. Best practices are critical in order to maximize your Web presence and to manage your online reputation.
The key to Internet dominance is to think integration – naturally, the first steps include a quality Web site and synching it with your social media, business listings, inbound links and other elements.
Despite warnings here and other places, many small businesses have made a tactical error in thinking Facebook is the crème de la crème in marketing. A Facebook page can be helpful as part of your marketing mix, and a large volume of fans might enhance a site’s ranking on the search engines.
However, aside from privacy, security issues, Facebook is a threat two ways. It’s also worth noting that the majority of business Facebook fans aren’t local. Plus, fans usually change their minds. Within a month or so, they decide a business’ Facebook page offerings are boring.
As for advertising, it rarely helps small businesses to insert their ads on the social medium. It’s better to save the money or budget it for prospects to offer loss-leader discounts to try your products or services.
By virtue of its 1 billion global members, Facebook is highly ranked. Despite the Facebook buzz, it’s losing members in North America and Europe. Facebook’s growth is in emerging Third World countries.
Moreover, if not managed well, a Facebook page can and will dilute or cannibalize your Web site’s presence. You never want to let any social medium presence outclass your Web site ranking. You want to use a social medium to enhance your site’s presence and drive traffic, not have it stop there.
How to maximize your search-engine listings
In U.S. market share, according to the various ranking services, Google consistently has about a 65 percent share, and Bing and Yahoo each have about 15 percent. Of course, there are others but most use Google for search. Worldwide, Google has a 90 percent share.
So develop a quality Web site. If budget is a concern, it’s possible to use free online tools for an adequate site. Insert your Facebook, Google+ and Twitter widgets. If you cater to a professional clientele, include LinkedIn.
Otherwise, the big Kahuna to generate local customers is Google Places. If a consumer searches for a local product, Google weaves the top seven results at the top. Normally, the top three business listings attract the most customers.
So it’s imperative to maximize your Google Places’ presence:
- Complete all the information – physical address, telephone number and your relevant categories.
- Insert professional pictures and a video.
- Synergize your listing on CitySearch, Local.com, Manta, Merchant Yelp, YP.com and mobile sites such as Foursquare and Facebook Places. Produce an informative video for YouTube.
- Entice your best customers to insert reviews. If feasible, encourage them to take a moment to write a review before they leave your business.
Reinforce your Web presence
Even though you’ve done all the footwork to create a Google Places presence, you’re not done. Next, protect your turf. Yes, many businesspeople have been stunned to learn their local listings were closed on Google Places.
Here are the necessary preventative measures:
- Regularly update your Web site. On your home page, every week make a change, even its small such as a loss leader or testimonial. Again, include your social media widgets if you have a blog, insert the latest headline. Customers and prospective customers will notice. Just as importantly, so will the search engines.
- Strategize with media centers of influence. Write search engine press releases and submit them to local media outlets if you have a newsworthy item. If you need PR, but don’t have a budget? Here’s how to leverage the news media. In addition, insert a press page on your site and include your releases. The news media will be a big source of credibility.
- With blogging success, others will want to re-publish your work it or otherwise link to you. Don’t allow them to do so, if they have an inferior Web presence. The first step is to check their site’s Google page rank.
- Regularly monitor your Web presence with search-engine news alerts, especially with Google Alerts and Tweetdeck. Daily search for what’s being written about your business, and evaluate any changes to your search rankings and customer reviews. Respond quickly. So develop a prototypical emergency response strategy including templates. Why? Some competitors of businesses are gaming the system with false reviews for their gain or to badmouth others to enhance their online presence. They furtively do this and can quickly dominate the Internet by downgrading your presence. So keep a careful record of your business listings, and have template responses ready to insert in advertising along with key words ready to implement on the search engines and other sites. This includes responding to journalists, social media and other online forums.
Every business is different. These are merely the basics to cover most situations. But if you implement these steps, you’ll be well on your way for strong results.
From the Coach’s Corner, here’s another resource:
“Long-term brand equity and growth depends on our ability to successfully integrate and implement all elements of a comprehensive marketing program.”
-Timm F Crull
Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.