This post was written by Steven Matt, Director of Digital Marketing for First Data. Read more Marketing & Promotions tips and tactics for small and medium businesses here on the Clover blog.
Many small business owners think they can’t control what shows up when customers search for their business. With some tweaks and the help of free online tools, they can. Here are some tools and suggestions to refine your online strategy:
1. Audit Your Site
One of the first steps in improving your online presence is to determine keywords you think customers will use when searching for your business or products. Then you need to optimize your site to show up when people search for those terms. That’s where free tools like WebsiteScore comes into play. It reveals key information such as current Title Tags and how keywords are used on the site. Title tags are important because they are the text that appears in bold in Google’s search results. Armed with their 10+ page report, you can work with your developer to optimize your site and help it show up in Google searches for desired keywords. Another tool worth checking out is SEO Book. Once you sign up for a free account they offer a number of tools including keyword search tools to help figure out what keywords to use.
2. Monitor Social Media
I teach new entrepreneurs at NYC Small Business Services, and one of the most common mistakes I hear small businesses make is that they think they need to be on every social media platform out there. There are hundreds of options and it’s unreasonable to think you can run your business and manage multiple social media platforms successfully. Instead, identify the platform(s) that your customers are most likely to use and focus on those. Consider using free social media measuring tools such as Howsociable.com or SocialMention.com. Use these tools to search for your business or products in social media. Also search for competitor brands to see which social media platforms are the most active for them. This is a good indicator of where your customers are most active.
If you’re in the business of selling retirement services, you probably don’t want start a SnapChat account because most of the users are millennials and that’s clearly not your priority demographic. Another quick and easy way to see what platforms your target customers use is to ask them. You can do this informally as people come in, or you can poll them via email. If you’re just getting started and don’t have a customer base to survey, check out Pew Research’s Social Media Fact Sheet which includes a handy chart showing a demographic breakdown of the top social media platforms.
3. Check Out Competitors
New website designs and software popping up every day. You don’t need to offer every new gizmo on your site, but it is a good idea to periodically check out what other successful businesses in your industry are doing. Clover Insights, a free app on Clover’s App Marketplace, makes this analysis easy. By searching for similar businesses in your area and nearby cities, you can learn which ones bring in the most revenue based on real data. Or, find other business types that sell to the same customer base. Spend some time on their sites to see how they market to this demographic and whether there are ideas you should incorporate into your site.
Check out more ideas on how to use market data in our Insights for Small Business Series.[image: Social Media Keyboard by Animated Heaven on flickr]