When was the last time you actually looked something up in a phone book or even saw one? As much as your Yellow Pages representative will try to tell you that their solution is still working, we all know that when someone is looking for a business-related service, they take their search online.
According to BrightLocal, 97 percent of consumers looked for a local business online in 2017.
With that knowledge, it's important to ensure your business has an online presence so it can be found when someone is searching for your services or products. But there are so many ways to put your business online, not all of which include building a website, so how do you know which one is right for you?
Let's start by identifying some of the ways that you can build an online presence and which business types those work best for.
If you don't want to shell out the cash to build a website, social media can be a great way to represent your small business. Types of businesses that Facebook and Instagram work well for are photography, homemade crafts, homemade foods, design work or other visual services.
Any small business, side business or hobby that has a good visual capacity and gets most of its business by word of mouth can do well with a social media presence.
Do you sell handmade goods or manufactured products? Partnering with a third-party e-commerce service like Etsy or Amazon might be the right way to put your business online. There are fees associated with selling on these platforms, but you don't have to build your own website, and you can get your business in front of people.
Google My Business
If your business has a physical store or office where customers can interact with you, you should definitely make sure you have a Google My Business listing. This listing will help you show up on the first page when people conduct their online searches. You can display all of your business information – name, phone number, address, description, hours – and acquire reviews on your business to show other potential customers how awesome your business is.
Whether you have a website or not, a Google My Business listing will help your business's online presence. And if you do have a website, you can link your Google My Business listing to it.
Businesses that need to share a lot of information about their business, products or services and have the means to do so should have a website. Whether you have an old website and need to update it or need to start from scratch with a brand new site, often, the online presence your business needs is its own website.
A website allows you to establish your brand online, share important information (and update that information frequently), capture leads with forms and ensure the validity of your business. People want the ability to learn more information about a business before they commit to it, and a website is generally the best way to do that.
Do it all
The best thing anyone can do for their business (if means allow for it), is to capture every opportunity to increase their online presence by utilizing each of these resources and more:
Third-party e-commerce sites
Google My Business (and other directory listings)
Your own website
The more places you can be found online, the better opportunity you have to rank in the search engines, as long as there is consistency with your brand and business information across the web.
Don't deny yourself or your business the opportunity to acquire more customers by building your online presence. Determine which options are best for your business and get started right away.