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Published May 16, 2019
A weekly look at issues facing Wyoming business owners and entrepreneurs from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Sarah Hamlin, regional director, Wyoming SBDC Network
More than 8.5 million people visited Wyoming as overnight guests last year, resulting in $3.5 billion being spent in our local communities. As we head into the summer, it is time to take stock of your local online presence.
Google reports that well over half of its searches originate with mobile devices. Furthermore, 72 percent of these searches are visited by folks who are within five miles of your location and within 24 hours of the search.
Having no, little or incorrect information about your business online makes it very difficult for visitors to stop and shop with you. So, here are five ways you can boost your business’s online presence:
-- Get listed. Head over to Google My Business and check to see how Google has your business listed. If your business information is not correct (or not there), then you should claim or create your listing. Get Your Business Online is a free directory listing with Google that will get your physical location on the map (with a red dot). Additionally, Google can do things like add pictures, ask for reviews and correct the map if your location has changed. Make sure to include your hours of operation. Google likes this, and so do your customers! Other online search engines and websites -- like Bing, Yahoo and Yelp -- also have similar processes to claim your business.
-- Make sure your website is mobile friendly. If you aren't sure about your website’s mobile friendliness, Google also offers an online tool that will check it for you. The Wyoming SBDC Network also can provide you with a no-cost website analysis. Google and other search engines are giving preference to websites that are easy to view on a mobile device, so this is important. Additionally, make sure your phone number is listed on every page of your website as 61 percent of the people who are searching for your business on a mobile device are trying to call you. Make it easy.
-- Capture customers who "search online, buy in store.” Purchasing behavior is interesting these days. We are finding that more customers are doing research online before they make their local purchase decision. As such, make sure you have your products or services listed on your website. This doesn't have to be everything you offer. What are your 10 most popular or most-asked-for items? List them. Are you a restaurant or cafe? Make sure to include your menu on www.allmenus.com or www.singleplatform.com so they are searchable, too.
-- Ask for reviews. It seems that Google is using reviews as a way to better understand your business. The best way to get good reviews is to ask for them. Remember, the happiest your customers are going to be with you is when they are paying for your goods or services. Don't forget to ask for that review. Don't worry about getting a less-than-positive review (three stars or less). The best way to deal with these reviews is to acknowledge them and then ask that person to call or email you to talk more. Your prospective customers know that not everyone will like your business all of the time. That’s OK. They want to see how you respond to complaints.
-- Join your local chamber of commerce. That’s right. Don't underestimate the value of your local chamber. Not only do they provide great community networking opportunities for our business communities, it seems like Google is valuing chambers as being nonbiased places to find out if you are a real business. Even better than being a chamber member, make sure that your website is hyperlinked from the chamber website to your website.
If you need assistance with any of these steps, contact your local Wyoming SBDC Network adviser today for no-cost, confidential advising at www.wyomingsbdc.org. In addition to expediting your Google listing approval, we also can review your business’s website and social media profiles.
The Wyoming SBDC Network offers business expertise to help Wyoming residents think about, launch, grow, reinvent or exit their business. The Wyoming SBDC Network is hosted by UW with state funds from the Wyoming Business Council and funded, in part, through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email email@example.com, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.