6 Steps for New/Small Businesses To Start Growing Exposure Online [April 2023]
If you're starting a business, it should be a top priority to establish your online presence.
Sometimes businesses start and thrive solely by leveraging word of mouth. That is fantastic if you can accomplish that. It's really helpful to avoid excessive ad spend, and in some cases, the need for any ad spend at all.
Whether you've got word of mouth lifting up your business or not, leveraging the internet to drive exposure, leads and sales can take you to the next level.
If you're a business owner and haven't invested in your online presence, are looking to grow, or are someone who will be starting a business soon, this post is for you!
Step 1: Research
You don't know what you don't know.
That's why every time I start with any client, I take time to learn about their business, their industry, and what their prospective customers are interested in.
What's appearing in the search results for searches relevant to the business?
What related questions do searchers have?
Which businesses frequently pop up on searches relevant to your business? (competitors)
What does the current website look like, and how is it ranking? (if the business has one)
What business listings are currently out there for the business? Are they updated and being utilized?
What social media profiles are set up? Are they updated and being utilized?
The goal of all of these questions is to get an idea of what prospective customers are interested in and make sure the website is answering their questions. Ultimately, providing them with a simple funnel that answers their questions, and encourages them to reach out.
Step 2: Build/Launch a Website, Incorporate SEO
If you already have a relatively new website, you're good to go here! (Consider a redesign in 2-4 years)
If you already have a website and you didn't incorporate SEO, please consider doing so!
A new website should provide a good representation of your business, online. It should draw users in, align with your business's personality, and provide great content based on research.
When you do this, and pair it with great SEO there is a lot of opportunity to rank well, and drive traffic that will convert into leads or sales.
The website's aesthetic and content are the foundation, and SEO will get it out to the masses.
I detail some SEO strategies that can kick-start your exposure growth in my 7 Quick SEO Improvements post. Everything in there is very relevant to this post, and you'll be surprised at how much of a difference a few targeted efforts can make.
Here's an example of a local client that I started with in their second year of business. They weren't ranking for any searches outside of their brand name when we started. Now they're experiencing rapid growth, and they don't advertise at all:
Step 3: Create or Claim and Update Local Listings
Two important ones that come to mind are Google and Yelp, but there are many others you can leverage.
Creating and utilizing these listings sends signals to Google, gives you more "real estate" in the search results, and if someone uses those listing sites to find a business, you have a chance there too.
The more avenues for folks to find you, the higher the chance they will find you, and reach out or make a purchase.
Why shoot for your website to rank on the first page when you can shoot for your website to rank on the first page, appear on the map pack, have an ad, and be accessible through 3 of the websites that appear on the first page?
Initial research will show what listing sites are important. For example, if you search "plumber 80126", some of the top organic rankings are listing sites. Angie's List, Yelp, BBB, expertise.com, and porch.com.
If you find that any of those sites is exceptionally good at driving quality business, they might have an opportunity to advertise.
For example, Yelp Ads have been really effective for my clients. They make it easy because you can get $300 in free ad spend to help you test it out and see if it's worth it for your business.
Step 4: Create or Claim and Update Social Media Profiles
Social Media Profiles should at a minimum be claimed/created, for any business.
I've heard something like: "As a manufacturer, I don't think it matters if I have LinkedIn or not" many times. I understand that perspective, but it's not difficult to create/claim a listing, and it has a wealth of potential benefits.
Consider it an opportunity that if the mindset of your industry is "I don't need Social Media", then your competitors probably aren't taking advantage of Social Media. So if you do, that's a small leg up. And every last thing counts to gain a competitive edge.
Ideally, businesses should regularly post, engage with those commenting, continually make updates, and utilize new features that are presented by the platforms. Yet another avenue for prospective customers to reach you, and another positive signal to Google and other search engines. You could also argue it communicates a more thorough and professional online presence.
Step 5: Gather key review links and generate reviews
Local listings and social media make it easy for you to generate links, and deliver an easy way for your clients to leave a review.
You can log in to those platforms and generate a review link that can be emailed, put on invoices, printed on receipts, etc.
All it takes is a link and a simple process/plan, and you'll have them coming in regularly. I find it best to focus on driving reviews one platform at a time. For example, maybe focus on Google for a year, then Yelp, then something else or bounce back and forth between higher priority listings.
It's imperative that any business drives as many positive reviews as possible to encourage trust among users and search engines.
If you were deciding between 2 CPA's, and you found that in most cases one CPA has 3/5 stars, and the other is more like 5/5, which one would you feel more confident going with?
The top priority is once again Google, but anything else coming up in the search results (from your research) should be considered.
Step 6: Continually Improve based on data, feedback, and changes in algorithms/search landscape
On an ongoing basis, you can make your online presence reach further and further.
Leverage data to continue making SEO, CRO, and UX improvements.
Test different ad types
Get involved in the community-utilize PR
Create fresh, helpful content
Update old content
Leverage SEO tools and Software
Explore analytics, gather insights, make improvements
Grow following on social media
Start to utilize email marketing
Competitor research for backlinks and content opportunities
There is so much you can do, and so much opportunity for growth.
Ready to grow your business?
I'd love to help. Contact me