As a small business owner, you likely wear many hats. You might handle the business finances, product research and sourcing, lead the sales efforts, and perform the services delivery — perhaps you’re the only employee. If you’re on a limited budget and can’t afford to partner for important components of your business like marketing, what’s an achievable alternative?

I’m going to cover 5 easy ways to establish your presence online and start building brand authority on the Internet.

1. Establish a Social Presence

If you don’t have a website, at the very least you need to be found on the major social networking platforms that can harness reviews (Facebook, Google+Yelp). Depending on your available time commitment, consider engaging on other popular platforms such as Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

social media tips
When creating your profiles, keep your information consistent. If your company name appears as “Joe and Tom’s Plumbing” don’t alternate to “Joe & Tom’s Plumbing”. Keep your descriptions accurate and provide the information a potential customer would want to know; the services you offer, when you’re open, pricing information, contact information, etc. Use high-quality pictures where possible and think about the overall page presentation.

2. Identify and Write About Popular Topics

If you’re running your business, you’re likely an authority on that subject. Consider providing your audience with useful tips and relevant information they’d find helpful. If you see a trend developing, consider a possible angle that you could write about. For instance, “Joe and Tom’s Plumbing” could offer seasonal advice on how to shield water pipes from extreme weather, or provide a list of the top preventative measures for keeping a well-maintained plumbing system.

When writing your article, keep the reader’s perspective in mind. If you’re using industry terminology that’s only known by a select few, you’ll likely lose the reader’s interest. Make sure you’re providing quality content that’s not only relevant, but useful.

Perhaps ask your friends, family, and customers what their biggest questions are regarding your business topic. If you see a pattern, write about it.

3. Use Local Keywords in Your Content

Within your articles, make sure you’re targeting your local area. If you mention “plumbing service” consider adding your region. For example, instead of “If you need a plumber give us” replace that with “If you’re in need of a New Orleans plumber, give us…” These keywords have lower competition and accurately narrow down your target audience.

Keep in mind you don’t want to stuff your article with keywords to where it looks unnatural. Depending on the article length, a few mentions will work. Also consider creating variations of those keywords, such as “New Orleans plumber”, “plumbing service New Orleans”, or “Louisiana plumbers”.

4. Engage with Your Audience

If someone comments on one of your social profiles, make sure you engage back, and do so in a timely manner. If it’s a public complaint, approach the situation quickly with a calm demeanor and make every effort to resolve the dispute to their satisfaction. Going above and beyond in a public forum can turn a potentially threatening setback into a positive experience, showing your customers you’re willing to do what it takes to make their experience nothing short of excellent.

5. Ask for Positive Reviews

If you provide quality goods or services, good feedback shouldn’t be hard to come by. Often times people will leave you a good public review simply by asking them nicely. For example, you could follow up with a customer on their experience through email with a section like this:

“If there is any reason that you wouldn’t rate this as a 5-star experience, please let me know right away and I’ll do everything I can to make it right. If everything went great, I’d really appreciate it if you could take a few seconds to click the link below and leave me a positive review.”

Make their job easy. Provide the link to the social media profile you want a review on and express a genuine thanks for their time in doing so.

Take a look at your competitor’s review profile on the major websites and examine how their doing. If they average 5 reviews per site, make it your goal to aim for 10. If they average 3.5 stars, make it your goal to average 4.5 stars. Work to keep a balanced profile so all of your reviews aren’t heavily skewed to one major site over the other.

Conclusion

If you follow the points above you’ll be on your way to creating a positive experience for your company and brand on the Internet. A lot goes into marketing online, but even a little effort can yield positive results. Don’t fret if don’t get a ton of engagement at once – it takes time. Continue to provide value and great experiences for your customers and the results will follow.

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