How did you find the address to the trendy new restaurant you took your last date to? If you said “I Googled (or insert the name of your favorite search engine here) it”, then you know the importance of being searchable. So how do you get searchable? There are a lot of factors involving Search Engine Optimization that take a lot of time and energy to build ranking etc. However, there are some things that you can do in the short term that will help you be found.
Submit the link to your website to any link directories that make sense. Why? Because your Alexa ranking is in part determined by how many external websites link to your site. Alexa ranking is in turn considered in a number of search algorithms. Another reason to submit to link directories, especially one with higher ranking than your own website is that when Google or another search engine goes looking for your information, the link in a directory might come up even if the search engine didn’t find your site directly.
Online Yellow Pages/Review Sites
When was the last time you used a phone book? That long? Yeah I thought so…. The internet is the new phone book. Even if you don’t have a website, you can register and claim pages with any number of online directories allowing customers to find you, review your services, and share your business information. This is important because, programs like the new Apple Maps program and some online directories build themselves based on existing sites that do this. Furthermore, sites like Yelp have a high ranking and often appear in the top search results where your website for your new business may take longer to show up there. On an additional note, currently Apple maps isn’t letting you submit your own businesses for consideration, they are indexing businesses that have profiles on online directories such as Yelp. Bottom line, being in the online yellow pages is as important in 2012 as being in the phone book was in 1982, if you’re not there, you don’t exist until someone accidentally finds you on the way to the business they intended to go to.
Claim your Google Places Listing
Google isn’t just a search engine anymore; it has become a verb meaning to seek something out on the web. When a company becomes that dominant in the market, you can’t afford not to do whatever it takes to be seen in their search engine. One way to draw attention to your business is to claim your Google Places local business listing. It is easy to claim and it is a way to make sure that you are indexed and listed by Google. Just remember because Google is the most popular search engine, does not mean it is the only search engine. To get your business noticed by other search engine users look for their local business listing products. For instance, Bing has a business portal where you can claim a free listing.
Use Social Media
This tip is a little more time consuming than the others, but it remains an excellent way to get your name out there on search engines. The most popular social media outlets are Facebook and Twitter. Both are places where your customers are likely to be and whose profiles rank high in search engine results. If you are going to Facebook be sure and get a fan page for your business, do not build it a profile. Profiles are solely for individuals and building your business its own profile is a violation of the Terms of Service; it could cost you your page and followers. You should also take a look at LinkedIn, Google + and Pinterest. LinkedIn is a professional network where people go to connect to business associates. Often people go there to look at potential new employers, and for vendors. Google + is a Facebook like social network, while its users are growing it isn’t a place where a lot of people are active yet. However, a Google + is a good way to get your business name out there because Google gives preference to Google + pages in ranking. Finally Pinterest, is an image sharing social network. The concept is that you share an image that links back to your site and people pin it to their personal pin boards, and in essence sharing your link to potential customers. This isn’t the best network if your product or your website isn’t visually dynamic.
There are a few caveats to using social media that a business should be aware of before investing time and money in trying to gain traffic through social media. First, social media is not a place for the hard sell. Social media is a place where people go to have conversations; it presents business owners with a chance to participate in that conversation. Second, have a plan!!! Do a little research about what is effective, and map out a strategy. Give careful consideration to which social networks you are joining and what you put on them. Also, be aware of who you give access to post on your behalf, because a rogue at the helm could cause you to go viral for all of the wrong reasons. It seems like a lot of work and a lot of risk, but trust me the rewards can be really sweet if you are willing to invest the time to do social media right.
Being searchable, is no longer just an awesome way to drive business, it is a matter of survival. Most people look up where they are going online before they get there. They are looking for your website to find out more about you, reviews to find out what other people think about you, and they are looking for the best way to get to where you are. Without easy access to that information, most people choose someplace else to go that they can find online. By following some of the tips above, you can help them find you, even without building a whole website.