COVID-19 has turned a lot about our lives upside down. The way we do just about everything has changed and continues to change as we navigate through this new reality. If you’re a small business owner, one of the biggest changes shocking your world (next to forced closings) are changes in consumer behaviour.
Research company McKinsey & Company has identified five key themes emerging in consumers around the world:
- Shift to value and essentials
- Flight to digital and omnichannel
- Shock to loyalty
- Health and “caring” economy
- Homebody economy
You can read more about their research here, but I for the purpose of this post, I want to focus on just a few of the highlights:
- 21% of US consumers are doing more research on a brand or product before purchasing
- Most industries have seen more than 10% growth in their online customer base and most people plan to continue to make a portion of their purchases online post COVID-19
- 75% of US consumers have tried a new brand, retailer, or method of shopping
For me that points to the fact that businesses, especially local businesses, need to focus on their online presence now more than ever. If you aren’t showing up when your prospective – or even existing – customers are searching online, who is?
The good news is that there are some simple SEO activities you can undertake right now to improve your online presence and increase the chances that people who need what you provide will find you when they search.
1 Optimize Google My Business
- Go to Google’s Free Listing Page: https://www.google.com/business and identify your business by finding it on the map or adding it for free
- Confirm your identity – they will either call you or send you a letter
- Double-check your details to make sure that the right category and subcategories are chosen and make note of the exact way your business name, address
Read more on optimizing your GMB profile in this post.
2 Get Markup Right
- Simply visit Schema.org’s Local Business NAP generator and fill in the blanks
- The tool will produce the HTML code you need to add to your site in place of your current address
3 Clean Up Citations
- Citations are simply places on the web that reference your business. They could be directories or other websites mentioning you.
- Using a tool like BrightLocal, look for inconsistent citations and ask the site owner to make any corrections.
- Basically, you want your name, address, phone number, and other business information to be consistent across the web to avoid sending Google mixed signals.
4 Create Local Content
- Include detailed information about your local area/service area in your online content.
- Post about local events. Use your blog to talk about the community, customers, and employees.
5 Focus on Reviews
- Set a goal of obtaining at least 5 Google reviews (the number that Google requires to display the review stars as a highlighting feature of local results)
- Make it as easy as possible for your happy customers to log in to the sites that matter and leave a review
- Repurpose reviews in email newsletters, on your site, or in local display
Taking steps like these will help improve your local SEO rankings and that means more potential customers finding your business.
If you’d like to make a big difference to your online presence, try our Total Online Presence Audit and we’ll tell you exactly what’s working and what you should focus on to improve.
I hope you are weathering this pandemic and wish you all the best. Stay safe.