It can feel a lot like you have to be a professional web developer to improve your business’ web presence, that’s not entirely true. There’s a lot of stuff that the online marketing cyber nerds can do to lay the foundations, but there’s also a lot of stuff YOU can do. That’s right, no knowledge of code, or even online marketing is required for the methods we’re going to describe in this series of “10 minute takeaway” articles. We’ll provide you with things YOU can do in less than 30 minutes with no more knowledge of computers than your granny!
In this first in the series we’ll be covering how to setup your Google My Business profiles, including your Google+ Business Page and your Google Maps Listing. Before we get into that, let’s get ourselves on the same page about “Web Presence”...
So what do we mean by improving your “Web Presence”?
Simply put, your company has a digital footprint. The more prominent this digital footprint, the better. This not only increases the number of places online that your potential customers can find you, it also improves your visibility to Google.
Your web presence is ultimately measured in how many places your accurate, up-to-date business details can be found. It doesn’t matter if a buyer or potential customer is actually searching the platform or network on which your details are presented. What matters is that they can find you ANYWHERE. This usually results in the first page of Google search results being dominated by your businesses various profiles, listings, Ads and website pages when someone searches for your unique business name.
So get out of thinking “Who’s looking for me on Google+?” and start thinking “Why wouldn’t I want to be found ANYWHERE?”
Why is a Kick Ass Web presence a Great Idea?
I’ve eluded to a few reasons why improving your web presence is important already. But there are some very specific reasons, both technical and more “touchy-feely”.
The Technical Reasons
Without going into “Techie” detail about how Google works, there’s something called Knowledge Graph, and it’s important. You will have seen things in Google search results called “Knowledge Graph Panels or Cards”. These show up on the right hand side of the search results and look like the image below.
These panels are created as a result of data that Google has “Scraped” from all across the web. The more information they find that correlates, the more prominently it recognises your business. A consistent, solid web presence in combination with some “on-page SEO” on your website should help Google create a panel of your own.
Knowledge Graph Panels aside, Google is looking for evidence that your business exists and that your website is worth returning in the organic search results. Therefore, taking action and sorting out your web presence with these 10 activities that YOU can do will benefit your business with increased search ranking, delivering more traffic and in turn, more enquiries.
The “Touchy-Feely” Reasons
Beyond Search Engines, a web presence that spans many corners of the online space also provides credibility and Kudos. When looking for a business online a buyer will naturally gauge how seriously you take your business. If you take little care and only occupy a small space, they will naturally assume you don’t care how your customers perceive you. If it looks like you don’t care what your customer thinks, the likelihood of a serious enquiry, much less an enquiry is severely diminished!
It’s not about trying to make out that you’re bigger than you are, it’s about demonstrating from the outset that you take your business, your brand and therefore your customers seriously.
Think of it like the trade show. A small stand, in a corner with little to no graphics, pop-ups or banners to display doesn’t draw attention and it doesn’t tell people you’re serious about business. On the other hand, a large stand , or multiple stands with great graphics demonstrating your capabilities tells the wandering visitor, you mean business. Even if it’s just you in the business! And the best bit, a dominating web presence doesn’t cost thousands, whilst it works for your ALL YEAR ROUND.
10 Things YOU can do to improve your web presence - Part 1
Get Setup On Google My Business - 30 Mins Max
If you’re trying to kick off your campaign for increased web presence, it’s best to start with the low hanging fruit. This will take you little to no time at all. My estimate of 30 minutes includes writing your business information and the content for your Google+ page, so it really is a quick one to tick off the list.
What do I get out of it?
As a subcontract engineering company in the UK it’s highly likely you qualify for a “Local Listing”. This is because you service your customers from a specific location, whether your customers actually come to your workshop is irrelevant, you have a geographical footprint. (That’s my interpretation of the guidelines for you).
As a result of this geographical footprint you qualify for a Google+ profile for your business AND a listing within Google Maps. In essence you get a page dedicated to your business on Google+ and you get a marker with a profile on Google Maps.
Your Google+ Profile will look something like this to a visitor
Your Google Maps listing will look something like this to a searcher
If you want the search engines to pay attention, Google is a great place to start. Where better to provide information, but within Google’s own directory of information!
How to get started with Google My Business
If you want to get your Google My Business account setup you start by going to Google My Business. The first thing Google will check is if you already have a listing in their database.
If you want to check if your business has been listed by Google already, without signing in to Google My Business, you can quickly check by searching for your business name in Google Maps. Just go to Google Maps and search for your business name.
If your business has a listing that’s been created by Google it will look something like the screenshot below.
At this point you can either click “Claim this business” or you can follow the process below. As I said, Google will check to see if your business is already listed when you setup your Google My Business listing.
If your business isn’t listed on Google Maps, go to Google My Business and create your own profile. Make sure you create a profile for a “Local Business”, this will automatically create you a listing on Google Maps.
Whether you’re already listed or not, you’ll need to create a Google account if you don’t already have one. It’s completely free and you can use existing email addresses to setup the account. You don’t need to use Gmail or Google Mail to be able to have an account, so don’t let this stop you on your mission for better web presence!
Once you’ve created an account, or signed in, Google will do a quick check by making you search for your business. It will return some results, but if your business is not one of them just click “None of these match” as shown in the screenshot below.
If you are listed, great! Just select your business, check the details to make sure they are correct and follow the process through. It’s worth doing a search for variations of your business name just to make sure you’re not duplicating a listing, this can be bad for building a consistent web presence.
If you’re not listed, you’ll need to provide your business details. It is imperative that these details are correct. Although you can make alterations later, it’s a lot easier to get things right first time. The screen you’re presented with should look something like the screenshot below.
Those are the tricky steps to get you started on your path to your very own Google My Business profile. It’s a case of following the steps presented as you now carry on through the process.
Google will want you to verify that you are entitled to manage this business listing. They do this by sending you a verification code in the post. Old school I know, but this does protect your business listing from being picked up by someone else. Once the verification code turns up, it’s just a case of following the steps on the postcard they send.
Word of warning, do not request multiple verification codes during the process. It can take up to 10 days for your code to turn up, be patient. It’s a 2 minute job to enter the code for final verification, but it can take a lot longer if multiple codes are on their way to you in the post!
Now is the time to fill in your profile.
Google will have created not only a Maps Listing, but also a Google+ page for your business. You can access and edit this whilst your listing is awaiting verification.
So in the meantime, whilst you’re awaiting your code, you can setup, edit and create your profile. You can add images, write a description of your business and importantly select the business categories in which you operate. Your profile will be in a state of waiting verification until you enter your code, so some information will be visible to you, but not visitors in the search.
Your dashboard in Google My Business will look something like the screenshot below.
To edit your business information, simply click the red “Edit” button in the top right.
Once you’ve clicked edit, you’re into the “Back End” of your profile. This isn't what a visitor to your profile will see, they’ll see a profile like the one shown earlier. You can edit this information at any time, but you may have to wait for updates to be shown at the “Front End” in your profile. Don’t panic, this is just Google being a bit slow.
The back end looks like the screenshot below. The sections are pretty self explanatory, and there are a few tips and tricks to optimising your profile, but for now just make sure you’re filling in the correct information. Drop in a few “Keywords” like the common terminology for your capabilities in your “Introduction” and “About Us” sections and you’re off to a great start.
To add your cover photo, other photos of your business and a logo you’ll need to go to your dashboard and click “Manage Photos” or you can go to the photos tab as shown in the screenshot below.
You should upload as a minimum your logo and your cover photo. You can also add some images of your work, finished goods, your workshop and anything else you think might help a visitor understand your business. It’s worth bearing in mind that these photos will also show up on your “Knowledge Graph Panel” as described earlier, so make sure they’re good quality.
If you’re stuck for ideas on a cover photo, a nice shot of the outside of your business or your workshop can work really well. Just don’t leave the default cover, it makes the whole profile look really incomplete and generic. Not the perception you want potential customers to hold of your business.
A word on selecting business categories
Google is not perfect. The business categories are more designed for local businesses such as Hairdressers and Retail Shops. Google does not have the complexity built in to understand the differences between manufacturing capabilities. As a result it’s highly likely you’ll have to select a business category that is “Loosely” related to what you do or an “over-generalisation”. For example “Sheet Metal Contractor” could mean a whole world of things, it’s not clever, but it’s the best they’ve got.
You need select a Primary Category and some sub-categories. Don’t go overboard, just list yourself in as many as required. I’ll re-iterate what Google says here, “Select what your business DOES, not what you business SELLS. This should be pretty easy for a sub-contract manufacturer.
Don’t get hung up on the business categories. The important thing to remember is that you are drastically improving your web presence just by setting up your Google+ business profile and your Google Maps listing. It’s in the wording of your profile, your website and the rest of your web presence you can get into the specifics of your business capabilities.
Now you just need to wait
So, if you’ve followed along and built your Google+ page and as a result, your Google Maps listing, all you now need to do is wait. That is, wait for your very own verification code to turn up. Once this arrives, it’s a really quick process of entering the code at the web address they provide on the postcard that Google sends.
And that’s it. Done!
Bonus Step - Quick and Easy Tip
You could quite easily leave it at that. But you’re so close, why not go that extra inch.
Sounds scary, time consuming and pointless. It’s not. When you have a Google+ business page, it’s possible for people to leave reviews. There’s a correlation between how far up in Google Maps listings you appear in relation to the number and quality of reviews you have. So why not aim for the top spot? At the end of the day, most of the businesses on the list probably aren’t even claimed. YOU can dominate.
Select a few choice customers, other subcontractors who may use you for occasional work and ask them (nicely) for a review. Rather than ask directly for a “positive review”, make sure you choose people who you think will give you a glowing reference. Sounds obvious, but it’s always worth a double check.
This is also a perfect reason to get back in contact with a customer, and remind them why they should be doing business with you. I would go as far to say, don’t just ask for a review. Share an article you read on a business blog or something they might be interested in, then leave the “Review Request” as a secondary focus of the email. A few will ignore it, but many will take you up on the offer, especially if you emphasise it’ll take 1 minute, and you’d really appreciate it.
On that note, make it quick, easy and straightforward for them to leave a review. Give them a link directly to your Google+ profile. Make sure the link is pointing at your “About” tab. To get the link just go to your Google+ page as a public visitor, click on the “About” tab, then select and copy the URL (shown in the screenshot below). You can then use this URL in an email to direct them towards writing the review. Once they’re on the page, it’s just a case of clicking “Write a Review” in the review box on your Google+ page.
That’s just a quick bonus step, which you can implement and make your page stand out that little bit more. Reviews should be an integral part of your ongoing business and sales process, so it’s not a bad idea to direct people toward your review page once you complete a contract anyway.
Double Bonus Tip - Free Custom Profile URL
Your Google+ Business Page will be entitled to a “Custom URL” which basically means instead of having a link that looks like this;
with a bunch of senseless numbers at the end, instead you get one that looks like this;
which is all slick and stuff!
This is not necessary, but if you’ve come this far, why not? This is really quick. Rather than talk you through it step by step in this article, I’ll let Google do the talking. Here’s their article on “How to create a custom URL for your Google+ page”.
That’s it for bonus tips, honest!
Google are continuously updating their user interface and their processes, but as of today, this is how it looks and feels. Even if there is a variation in the exact look of the process when you do it, don’t worry! Just follow these instructions and the step by step process that Google will naturally walk you through anyway and you shouldn’t go far wrong.
This really is a sub-30 minute process. But the impact it can have on the appearance of your business in the search results and your general web presence can be considerable. Hopefully I’ve demonstrated a compelling case for why you should be improving your web presence and exactly how YOU can do it for yourself, without being an internet marketing nerd.
For those of you who do want to take things just a little further with regards to the Knowledge Graph Panels, it’s worth talking to your web developer of agency about “Schema Markup”. This isn’t something you are going to implement, unless you have some coding skills. However, for a web developer, it’s pretty easy stuff to do.
If you’re interested in knowing more about Schema Markup and what needs to be implemented for your Manufacturing Business Website here’s a detailed article.
Further to that, you can learn more about Schema Markup from Google themselves, here's a link to their developer site.
If you’re currently in the process of getting a website built, make sure you ask your web developer to implement Schema Markup from the outset. If they don’t know what you’re talking about, it may be worth re-considering your choice of web developer! If you just mention Google Knowledge Graph, they should know exactly what you’re talking about.
Coming up in our “10 Minute Takeaway” Series
I hope you got a lot of value out of this guide, and I hope this will inspire a bout of Google+ profiles to be created by the community of Subcontract Manufacturing Companies in the UK! There are so many business profiles that remain unclaimed, it makes standing out actually quite easy. Take 30 minutes today and boost your web presence instantly with this 10 minute takeaway from us at Manufacturing Network.
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