Top 11 Tips for Improving Your Local Business’s Web Presence in 2011

Top 10 lists are so 2010. Here’s a Top 11 list for the first Monday of the New Year. Some of these tips are oldies but goodies. Others are just things we all need to do regularly. Please contact us if you like some of these tips and need help improving your web presence this year. We wish everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2011!

  1. Send an online survey to your clients.Find out what your clients think early and often. Online tools such as SurveyMonkey and Wufoo make this an easy task. I recommend sending out a survey then following up with a phone call. Check out my screencast for more information about creating web forms.
  2. Claim your business listing on Google.If you haven’t already done so, then you should stop what you’re doing and claim your free business listing. Last year, Google integrated local business listings into organic SERPs. For example, if you search for “Jacksonville BBQ restaurants,” then you’ll see the local business listings and map above the organic search results. Why does this matter? Well, if your business caters to a local community, then this is one of the best ways to help prospective customers find you.
  3. Create a mobile version of your website.According to research firm IDC, about 50% of internet users will access the Web on mobile devices in 2011. Most HTML websites will function on iPhone, Blackberry, and Android phones, but they’ll look like miniture versions of their desktop selves. If you haven’t done so already, then this is the year to invest in a mobile version of your website. It’s fairly straightforward to make a mobile version of Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress sites.
  4. Add your phone number, hours of operation, and Google Map link to your homepage.I find this to be vital information for restaurants and retail stores—particularly during holiday shopping season. Whether or not you create a mobile version of your website, most smartphones will automatically convert a phone number to a link. When you click the link, the phone will dial the number. Most folks will be calling to find out your hours and location, so don’t make them dig! Just include the info on your homepage.
  5. Hop on the deal-of-the-day bandwagon. Groupon, LivingSocial, and Tippr are quite the rage right now. Each service claims to offer risk-free marketing for local businesses. That means your business doesn’t pay anything up front. The deal-of-the-day services take a commission from sales. This could be the future of local marketing.
  6. Shoot video, video, and more video.Get in front of that video camera and talk directly to your customers! Producing video is easier and cheaper than ever before. Shoot a product demo, how-to, facility tour, owner interview, and customer testimonials. Then post your video clips for free on YouTube and Vimeo. You can even stream your own live show at Ustream and Livestream.
  7. Write a white paper and offer it as a free PDF download.Take some of that hard-earned knowledge in your head and write a short tutorial, product comparison, or user guide. Educational marketing is free and positions you as an expert. You can even offer your PDF in exchange for contact info or as a free bonus for signing up for your mailing list.
  8. Post regularly to your blog.If you’re like me, then this is easier said than done. If you can’t post often, then at least post regularly. Free services such as Tumblr make it easier to post content. You can post photos, video, and slideshows simply by emailing your content to your account.
  9. Send a monthly email newsletter.This is where your blog posts become valuable. If you’ve written a few blog posts during the month, then
    it’s easy to include parts of them in your email newsletter. We recommend MailChimp to manage and send email newsletters. Their completely free account allows you to store up to 1,000 subscribers and send up to 6,000 emails a month.
  10. Get smart about how you interact with your online social network.With 500 million active Facebook users, it’s amazing anything ever gets done in office buildings around the world. Twitter doesn’t have as many users, but it’s just as addictive. So how can small business owners use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks to their advantage without spending hours of valuable work time? My advice is twofold. First, use a social media dashboard such as HootSuite or to quickly post to all of your social networks at once. Second, link to your blog posts and other high-quality content. Tumblr will do this for you automatically. Don’t waste your time posting about things that aren’t important. It’s wonderful to interact with your online social network, but you need to do so efficiently and effectively.
  11. Ask for WOM.How much of your business comes from word of mouth? If it’s a large percentage, then that means your customers are happy, and they’ve recommended you to to their coworkers, friends, and family. Bravo! We recently spoke about getting 63% of our new business in 2010 from WOM. How can we all increase WOM? Ask for it! Ask customers to leave comments on Twitter, Facebook, and your blog. Of course you need to keep providing excellent products and services. But even if someone leaves negative feedback, then you should seize the opportunity to publicly make it right. Prospective customers will appreciate your transparency.
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