online presence

By Soo Young Kim, Google, Small Business Outreach

Before they call or step through your door, the first impression a customer often has of your business is from your online footprint. Building a strong online presence is both critical to your brand’s growth and helps mold that first impression.

There are many ways to build a strong online presence, but here are six tips to help you get started:

Show up online. Your customers are searching online, so you need to first make sure your business shows up when they’re looking for you. For example, you want to make sure your business listing appears when they are searching for products and services you have to offer. If you don’t know how your business appears on Google Search and Maps, check out this tool and claim that listing if you haven’t already.

Make sure your listing looks great. You need to always ensure that your business listing is up-to-date. Businesses with complete listings are considered twice as reputable, so it’s critical that your business listing has important elements including your address, phone number, hours of operation and photos! Businesses with photos get 42% more requests for directions.

Respond to your customers. Customer service also extends online. Let your customers know that you appreciate hearing from them by interacting with them on social media and responding to their reviews (positive and negative). Here are some tips on responding to reviews.

Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and speedy. Key to making a good first impression is making your website experience great on mobile. More than half of all Google searches happen on mobile phones and mobile shoppers want quick results – 53 percent say they’ll wait no more than three seconds before abandoning a site. See how well your site works on mobile through the Test My Site tool. We’ll email you a personalized assessment with specific recommendations on how to make it better.

Learn more about your visitors and customers. The more you know about your visitors and customers, the better you can plan your online presence. By using a web analytics product like Google Analytics, you can see how users interact with your website. With this data you can see where they’re coming from, where they spend their time on your site, and what pages they quickly leave. These insights can show you what content users are finding most useful, as well as what potential customers are looking for from your business.

Make it a habit. Your online presence is something that you can continue to build. So make it a habit – whether it’s weekly or monthly, commit to spending a little time on how your business appears online. To learn more about marketing strategies and digital best practices, check out Google’s Primer app. Primer is a free mobile app full of five-minute lessons to learn everything from building a successful website and getting started with email marketing, to creating a social media presence.

We hope these resources are a good start for helping you to build a strong online presence for your business and making a great impression online. For additional tips and resources, follow Google Small Business on social media: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube.