The High Street used to be the centre of every British town, a busy thoroughfare lined with unique retail shops, each drawing its own personal clientele. However, figures from 2016 show this is changing quickly. Local shopkeepers are shutting their doors at an alarming rate and the empty window fronts are being taken over by coffee shops, barbers and the latest trend, vaping shops.
As sad as it is to watch Britain’s High Streets change, it’s easy to see the cause. On Black Friday last year, online retailers raked in £1.23 billion worth of goods, much more than was spent at local shopping centres. With rent skyrocketing and today’s shoppers far more interested in convenience than personalised service, it’s hard for local goods and clothing stores to keep up, unless of course they can also break into the online market.
Building an Online Profile
In the age of internet, every local business needs a website to have any hope of survival. Today’s customers are online surfing the web, and they’re more likely to form an opinion about your store from a quick glance at the website than by strolling down High Street. However just building a professional website may not be enough. Online shoppers are looking for businesses they can trust, with efficient professional service and reputable products. To build a reputation online, you’ll need to command enough authority to stand out from your competitors.
From the early days of the internet, websites have been referred to as ‘the new shop window’, but today the initial hurdle for any business owner is to get customers to click on their website. Google page one is the first thing anyone searching online will see, so this is what’s going to define your business. With an estimated eighty-nine percent of users not looking past the first page of a search, it’s very unlikely anyone will find your site unless it ranks here. Additionally, only 53 percent of people look past the first two results on page one, so ideally it needs to rank at the top of the page to have any chance at all.
Optimising and ranking the business website won’t accomplish much if the rest of page one is filled with irrelevant results, competitors’ advertisements plus negative news and comments from customers. To convince a casual online researcher that your business is the one to buy from, you’ll need to get control of Google page one and make it about you. You’ll need to treat it as your new shop window and put your most attractive assets on display right here.
How to Own Page One
Very few people would walk into a shop with an untidy window full of junk, let alone one that advertised negative information about the store, yet this is frequently the case with a Google result page. One or two links may pertain to the business, but the rest are unrelated articles or negative comments from customers.
As a shop owner, you would put a range of products in the window to draw in all different types of people. The same is true of Google page one. Customers need to see what the business has to offer, even at a quick glance, and they want to find a unique and relatable brand message that makes them interested in learning more.
Of course, controlling Google results isn’t quite as straightforward as rearranging merchandise in a window, but the more online connections you make the easier it will get. The important thing is to interact with customers and followers across as many platforms as possible so you build secondary results that will fill up page one below the website.
Here are a few tips
- Domain Name – Buy your domain name (if you haven’t already) to have the best chance of ranking the website at the top of page one.
- Sitelinks – If you can structure the website so that sitelinks appear below the main title, this will take up extra space and it will give customers more information about what products you offer.
- Social Media – Claim professional social media profiles for the business on as many platforms as possible and link them back to the website. This will prevent anyone else from using the name to damage the business’s reputation. Work on attracting followers on Facebook, Twitter and other sites relevant to your industry. Post regularly and interact with followers.
- Blog – Create a company blog with regular updates and articles on industry related topics. Keep the content fresh and unique so that customers will be genuinely interested in what you have to say. Link the blog to the website and share posts on social media.
- Network – Join local and professional directories so you have an accurate listing on these sites and post your membership on your website. Attend conferences, guest blog, or host events at your store. Advertise these events on your website and social pages, then blog about them afterwards. The more you get the businesses name out there, the more it will come back in positive references online.
- Press Releases – Distribute press releases about your business to relevant online news sites. Getting business events covered in this way will add authority and depth to the profile.
If this seems like a lot of work, ask yourself what you would invest in a shop window. You’d no doubt put out some high quality merchandise and you would change the display regularly based on seasons, holidays and trending merchandise. You might work with a professional decorator to achieve a high-quality design that really turns heads.
Your online profile should receive the same attention. It should have the same professional quality and it should reflect seasonal and merchandise changes as much as a shop window. Given the many different challenges of working online, professional reputation management is a good idea for most businesses, even small locally owned stores.
At Reputation Defender we work with all different types of companies to achieve a better online presence. Whether you are just starting out online or want to improve your customer base through internet publicity we can help you promote your brand message more effectively among online shoppers. Contact one of our reputation specialists to learn more about what we do.
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