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A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Nicholas Giraldo, WSBDC market researcher
“How do I get my business noticed on search engines?” Phil, Buffalo
Wyoming tourism season will be in full swing soon, bringing in visitors by the millions. According to the Wyoming Office of Tourism, Wyoming had 10.5 million visitors in 2015, spending nearly $3.4 billion.
If those numbers grow, that’s a lot more visitors to the Cowboy State -- all looking for places to shop, eat and stay.
In order to capture a piece of this consumer spending, every small business in Wyoming needs an online presence. What that means is having a website that is mobile friendly, has location information within website content, is registered with online business directories and has customer reviews.
Here are some tips to remember:
-- Mobile-friendly website: It’s reasonable to assume travelers are bringing their smartphones with them and using those mobile devices as their local guide. Search engines, such as Google, have taken notice and have added mobile-friendly as a positive ranking factor to their mobile search algorithms.
What that means is if your website is not mobile friendly (meaning it fits nicely on a smaller screen and provides a good user experience), it may not show up on a traveler’s search results on a phone or tablet. Bottom line: If you want your website to be found more easily via a mobile phone, make sure it’s mobile friendly.
-- Local information keywords in website content: Keywords containing your business name and location in your website content are important to getting found by visitors. If you own a coffee shop, for instance, incorporating your business name and location into your content will help increase the chances of a visitor finding you via local search. “Cup of Joe Coffee Company, located in historic downtown Laramie” would be an example of incorporating the business name and location in your content.
Incorporating the business name and location into your website’s metadata also is helpful to being found online. For instance, having “Cup of Joe Coffee Company, located in historic downtown Laramie” in your home page’s title and description increases its chances of being found via a local search for coffee in Laramie.
-- Online business directories: Creating a consistent business listing and posting to online business directories is another way to ensure your business is found in local searches. Examples of online business directories are yellowpages.com, dexknows.com or localize.com. One free and easy way to do this is by registering your business with services such as Google My Business and Bing Places for Business. The drawback is both Google and Bing upselling their additional services, with Bing selling paid listing services and Google adding more of its free services to your account.
-- Customer reviews: Reviews act as a signal to both visitors and search engines. For visitors, reviews can heavily influence their purchasing decisions. To search engines, reviews provide their users with useful customer-sentiment data, or people’s opinions about your business.
Managing reviews becomes crucial to getting found online and also offers a great way to interact with customers and build a loyal customer base. To encourage more reviews, be direct and ask your customers to leave a review via Google+ Local, Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook or any other directory of your choosing.
With more and more people using their mobile phones as their local guide to a community, having an online presence that is mobile friendly, incorporates relevant keywords in its content and metadata, is registered via online directories and has positive reviews will put your small business front and center of potential customers eager to experience the local scenes throughout the Cowboy State.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments are available at www.wyen.biz/blog1/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.