As little as 10 years ago, it was practically success suicide to not have your business listed in a phone directory such as the Yellow Pages. After all, every household across the country had one stashed in a cupboard. If you needed a removalist, you’d just need to flick through and find one near your suburb.
And then the Internet came along and everything changed. . .
In a very short time, the risk of sustaining a nasty paper cut from flicking through 2000 pages of a phone directory for an accountant was all but eliminated. Now you could just Google (or Bing, or Yahoo) it and within 0.19 seconds you have approx 100,000,000 results available for even the most obscure query.
For business these days, it is essential to be found online. In this post, we delve into a few options available to your businesses to help make this transition from online obscurity to generating leads, calls, sales and awareness from search engines.
Google Places is a free business listing tool from Google which is becoming more prominent in search results with each tweak that Google does to their search algorithm.
Google Places allows businesses to create a free listing which is then added to not only the search engine results, but targeted specifically to localised searches relevant to the Places page. This means that if someone in Adelaide is searching for a plumber, Google Places automatically knows their location and assigns it a relevant result within and near-by Adelaide.
Places pages allow you to add descriptions about your business, operating hours, contact details, pictures, videos and even your address which will be automatically added to Google Maps, which will display a cool little directions option in your listing, making your business easier than ever to be able to locate.
Do you have a Facebook? Well, more than 800,000,000 (8 zeros!) people around the world do. Next to Google, Facebook the number one link sharing website in the entire world. It also has an “online education centre” called Facebook for Business which provides some great tools and info about how to use Facebook to help your business, including how to set-up a profile page, create targeted ads and deals and best practices with interacting with customers (current and potential) online.
Get a website
Search engines are essentially a democracy. The most popular and most relevant for a particular topic are the ones that will most often rank well in search engines. Creating a website with relevant and helpful content is one of the best ways to be found. Of course there are many other factors (SEO, links, advertising etc) which also contribute, but having an easy to use and content rich website is the foundation of great search rankings.
AdWords and Online Advertising
Advertising online, particularly Adwords, has a lot of benefits over older advertising forms like print or television. Online advertising allows you to target specific people or users based on any number of conditions. For example, a company that sells vacuums could assign their online ads to display to people who are searching for the term ‘dirty carpet’ or ‘broken vacuums’. You can also assign where in the search engine page you want your link to rank.
MYOB recently partnered with Google to create the Getting Aussie Businesses Online initiative. Together MYOB and Google are offering Australian businesses free domain names and websites to help get businesses started online. MYOB Atlas gives you a website that has all the important information about your business – letting people know who you are, what you do and importantly how to find or contact you. It’s a great place to start if you’ve never had any experience when it comes to business and the internet and it’s completely free!
The Australian Government has also set-up a great online resource to help Australian businesses understand how the internet can benefit them. The Winning Business Online initiative is a training program funded by the Australian government that helps businesses who are yet to get online, or have an online presence and want to build their knowledge and skills. It provides free and low-cost seminars, as well as one-on-one training. A must if you want to learn more about being online.
Of course that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to getting online, but even the greatest tree was once a tiny seed. If you’ve found any great tools or had some interesting experiences when making the move to the internet I’d love to hear from you!
Until next time, happy searching.