Boost the online pres­ence of your busi­ness

Tech Advisor - - HOW TO -

Jim Martin ex­plains how to get your busi­ness listed in both Google and online busi­ness di­rec­to­ries

Search en­gines

First up, this isn’t an ar­ti­cle ex­plain­ing ev­ery last de­tail about search en­gine op­ti­mi­sa­tion (SEO). There are en­tire books on the sub­ject, and it is well worth read­ing up on SEO to more fully un­der­stand it. Here, we’ll ex­plain the ba­sic prin­ci­ples of how to en­sure your web­site gets found by more cus­tomers.

Most search en­gines will au­to­mat­i­cally pick up your site, so there’s no need to man­u­ally add it us­ing their online forms. But if you want to be listed at the top of the search rank­ings, it’s most im­por­tant to en­sure that your site meets the cur­rent re­quire­ments. For ex­am­ple, Google re­cently started pe­nal­is­ing sites that don’t work prop­erly on mo­bile de­vices. So if you haven’t checked how your site looks on a phone, you should.

If it doesn’t work, you’ll need to put things right. The web­site builder tools in­cluded with most host­ing pack­ages should be up to date and will make your site com­pat­i­ble with all screen sizes, but if yours doesn’t it could be time to change host­ing providers or change the set­tings in your provider’s online dash­board.

Yet another im­por­tant fac­tor is hav­ing lots of links to your site from other web­sites. If there are none, you may have to sub­mit your site to Google man­u­ally.

Lo­cal searches

For some types of busi­ness, at­tract­ing lo­cal cus­tom is your top pri­or­ity. There’s lit­tle point in a Lon­don-based driv­ing in­struc­tor be­ing found by some­one search­ing for driv­ing lessons in Ed­in­burgh. That’s where busi­ness di­rec­to­ries come in, as well as Google’s lo­cal list­ings. You can sub­mit or cor­rect de­tails held about your busi­ness by go­ing to google.co.uk/busi­ness. When you pro­file on Google is com­plete your busi­ness will show up on Google Maps as well as in search re­sults.

It’s also good to get listed on the big di­rec­to­ries in­clud­ing Thom­son Lo­cal and Yell. Both sites of­fer free list­ings – tinyurl. com/q2zf5o7 and tinyurl.com/ob2edan, re­spec­tively. How­ever, you can pay for a more prom­i­nent list­ing in Yell’s list­ings. The cost will de­pend on the promi­nence you want and the lo­cal ar­eas you want to reach. It’s pos­si­ble to hag­gle on price, so you may be able to save on the fig­ure you’re quoted online.

One way to en­sure your list­ing is al­ways up to date across mul­ti­ple di­rec­to­ries is 1&1’s List Lo­cal ser­vice (tinyurl.com/qgvnejx). The ba­sic £9.99 per month pack­age doesn’t in­clude Thom­son­lo­cal and the Pro ver­sion isn’t cheap at £29.99 per month. You’ll also need the Pro pack­age if you have more than one busi­ness lo­ca­tion.

Your web­site

Given that many small busi­nesses have no web­site at all, it’s worth hav­ing even a ba­sic site with your con­tact in­for­ma­tion, a photo of your of­fice, unit or shop front, open­ing hours and any other rel­e­vant de­tails. It isn’t hard to pro­duce a mod­ern-look­ing site us­ing the site-build­ing tools we men­tioned ear­lier. Some, in­clud­ing 1&1 MyWeb­site 8 (tinyurl.com/ph3y3tj), will even pre-fill a lot of the text for you, so it won’t take long to make it spe­cific to your busi­ness.

Even more im­por­tant than the site look­ing good is to make sure you give each page a ti­tle that de­scribes the page prop­erly. This will help to im­prove your Google rank­ing. Look for an op­tion or set­ting some­where in your site builder dash­board for ti­tle and meta de­scrip­tions: this is the in­for­ma­tion which will be shown in Google list­ings, which is why the de­scrip­tion is also im­por­tant.

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