How easy is your business to find online? Today, companies understand they need at least a basic website, and that SEO is important when people search for them online. But there’s another important strategy that many growing businesses skip: Creating the right online profiles.
These profiles help define your brand’s digital presence, and provide valuable information to visitors. Increasingly, buyers are making their purchase decisions based on the information and reviews they find in online profiles, often without even visiting a company website first. That means companies need the right digital presence in right places – but what places are those? In this guide, we’re going to take a look at some of the most important online profile platforms in 2020, and why your business should be on them, ASAP.
More than the Yellow Pages, more than Yelp, more than any online listing, having a profile in Google My Business can help your local SEO and visibility. The secret is, of course, Google’s massive online ecosystem that ties all kinds of information together. Fill out a robust Google My Business Listing, and it’s immediately connected to Google’s web searches, Google Maps locations, and similar destinations. Plus, Google tends to give its own platforms a bit more favor, so Google My Business profiles can show up more prominently in search results, making organic traffic more successful.
If you’ve never looked into Google My Business before, don’t worry: It’s very easy to set up. The key is to fill out as much information as possible. Be very specific about your location and contact info, and always have links to your website. Have a compelling description of your business and what you offer (you can use this on profiles across the internet, but they’re particularly impactful on GMB). Make sure you upload several photos of your business both inside and out – many visitors will make decisions about whether or not to try your brand based on the photos they see here.
Also, don’t forget the analytics! While analytics can be used for many online profiles, Google makes it especially easy to examine how your GMB profile is faring. You can check visits to your profile, where people are coming from, how many are moving ahead to your website, and even which pictures of your brand people are looking at. It’s a lot of valuable information – that’s entirely free via Google Analytics.
Many people use TripAdvisor to decide where they’re going to go, what businesses are worth visiting, and what companies in an area can provide the services they need…even if they aren’t travelers. This is particularly important for those in the hospitality industry, entertainment businesses, restaurants, and similar brands that benefit from creating a lot of interest in their target audience.
There are even more benefits for any business that’s travel-oriented, as other travel directories will port TripAdvisor profiles onto their own sites, which can give your company even more coverage. If you’ve already completed a profile for Google My Business, you can essentially copy it right over to TripAdvisor with very little hassle!
Video marketing works: 72% of customers prefer learning about products via video, and 82% of all consumer internet traffic will come from online videos by 2022. Your competitors are also probably taking advantage of this: 81% of businesses now use videos for their marketing, an amazing 63% just in just one year.
However, creating consistent videos can be daunting for many companies without a lot of video experience. One reason we suggest creating a YouTube channel is that it gives you an easy platform to publish and share videos on – a little encouragement to create a video strategy once you’ve signed up. It’s easy to create a channel with your brand name or choose a Google Brand Account as a new YouTube channel. Then, whenever you create a marketing video (or video guides, demos, etc.) you can upload it to your channel.Make sure to always give your videos good description
s that include information about your company and how to contact you. YouTube videos also need to have good titles, tags and thumbnails, which will help YouTube recommend your videos to others, and make them more searchable. If you still feel uncomfortable creating your own videos, there are many guides that can help you start out.
While Yelp has been commonly associated with restaurants and similar businesses that collect a lot of reviews, it is useful for all kinds of local businesses. Last year saw Yelp work toward becoming a more well-rounded type of directory for many types of services. It remains very popular with millennials and Gen X groups, with around 178 million unique visitors each month (about half of those from mobile devices). Around 45% of consumers are likely visit reviews on Yelp before making a decision, especially for restaurants, hotels, and stores.
It’s clear that Yelp is great for business visibility. It also has options for advertising, and Yelp profiles have been improved to include a number of useful features, including call to action buttons that lead to your site or a purchase option, and unique “Yelp deals” to get visitors interested in your business. You also get good metric information, including traffic data and how frequently users are interacting with your profile.
Still, some businesses may hesitate to create a Yelp profile because they are worried about getting bad reviews. Reviews, both good and bad, are a part of setting up your online profiles, and they shouldn’t dissuade you from getting on Yelp if your business is a good fit. Remember, online profiles, including Yelp give you ways to report fake reviews or reviews made in bad faith, so you do have some recourse available to deal with problems! It’s also an excellent practice to respond to positive reviews or questions whenever possible, although this usually depends on a business’s bandwidth in terms of time and manpower.
Facebook’s Business Pages have recently been simplified and updated to become a hub for all kinds of information and activity. It helps to think of them as a prelude to your own website for small businesses, or a second website you can use to reach more social media audiences.
While Facebook doesn’t have a reputation for being particularly popular among young audiences, it does have a loyal following and it’s a great place to generate some SEO about your business and products. Images, menus, and other items are easy to upload. Most importantly, Facebook does an excellent job of enabling sales directly from your Business Page. You can add a buy button or shop section so that people can purchase while still on Facebook, which is a much more comfortable option for many customers.
Also, let’s not forget about Facebook chatbots! While many sites can use chatbots, Facebook is a particularly popular option for these AI helpers, which mimic real chat services. There are many ways to set up a chatbot: Some are developed to be as real as possible, with genuine greetings and responses. Some are excellent directory searchers that can help customers locate very specific products. And others are sales agents, designed specifically to encourage and complete sales right from Facebook (or the Messenger app, if used separately). While it may seem intimidating for a smaller company to create its own chatbot, there are many services available online to make the process easier or develop the bot for you!
Many companies aren’t sure if their business is a good fit for Instagram. After all, the social media platform is associated with consumers, influencers, fashion, and travel – many traditional businesses might take a look and decide it’s not the right fit for them. However, Instagram has worked to become much more business friendly in recent years, and the efforts are paying off. It’s also immensely popular, especially with millennials and other younger users: About 200 million people visit Instagram business profiles every day, and 70% of users hop on Instagram to look up brands, while around 60% learn about new products from Instagram.
In light of these numbers, it’s easier to see just how effective a good Instagram profile can be. New features like “shoppable” tags allow business profiles to link photos of products directly to their website or buy pages, which means Instagram can also become a powerful source of sales when used effectively.
The key, of course, is that Instagram profiles flourish when they offer plenty of visual content. Like YouTube, this is another case where you can’t create your profile and just let it sit idle. Good Instagrammer businesses post plenty of photos of their products, storefront, employees, and creations to help attract followers and keep people interested. It’s an investment, but one that has a better return than ever for a wide variety of industries…and as Instagram continues its rapid growth, the opportunities grow with it.
LinkedIn is another platform that’s made significant strides with its company pages in the past couple of years. No longer is it just a site for making contacts and recruitments: The latest updates have more streamlined pages, easier posting, customizable call to action buttons, and easier access to analytics. Add in features like communities hashtags and fast company page editing for updates, and it’s easy to see how deep LinkedIn’s profile options really go. If your approach to LinkedIn has been only casual in recent years, it is time to set up a more customized, brand-oriented page that can produce results and connect with customers as well as recruits.
LinkedIn is also a powerful tool for building authority and thought leadership, which is great for SEO and can help you find new partnerships and talent. To get the most out of a LinkedIn profile, take part in the platform’s “conversations” connected to your industry, and publish content of your own. Research, infographics, industry predictions, case studies, and similar authoritative content tends to do well on LinkedIn, and it’s a great way to build your reputation across the internet.
We understand that time and resources can be limited, and that dealing with all these difference online profiles can seem like a challenge to many businesses. The good news is that there’s excellent synergy between them: You can use the same information and images across many profiles, and they all work together to increase your online presence and give people – especially mobile users – a variety of routes to find your brand. Remember, if any key information changes for your business, update all your online profiles immediately so that they all agree with each other. Finally, if you don’t already have strategy to deal with reviews, both positive and negative, now is a great time to create one.