How do customers find you? It’s no secret that referrals are going to be your best business. Having an existing customer recommend you to one of their contacts provides more trust and loyalty.
But in today’s digital age, even if a client is referred to your company by someone, there’s a good chance they’re going to do their own research before committing. And they’re going to do that research online. Which means that you want to have an online presence.
You’ve probably heard someone toss out the words SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization. What it boils down to is whether or not search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) will be able to find you based on the keywords people type in.
This doesn’t mean that you need to pay someone to build you a website, and someone else to make sure it’s optimized with keywords. While building a website is an option, when you’re just starting out, and if you’re a small business it’s just not the best decision for right now. There are plenty of ways to build an online presence that are completely free, and fairly simple.
Before you start jumping into where your business will show up online there are three pieces of information that you want to lock down, so that they can be the exact same across all touch points. And that is your Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP). It may seem silly, or a little nit-picky but it’s important that it’s consistent. When you type your phone number are you putting brackets around the area code? Are you spelling it out as Street, or abbreviating it? Are you using ‘and’ or ‘&’? It’s all about consistent branding, and making it easier for potential clients to find your information.
There are three places that you will want to start inputting your business information.
Google My Business
Google will let you input your business information into their system for free. This includes if you have a home-based embroidery business, or you’re more of a commercial embroidery business and have a storefront. You can get started by going to: google.ca/business. Then you simply start inputting your business information, and copying it directly from what you wrote for your NAP.
You’ll also have a section for your business description. Take a little time to consider, and fine-tune what you write here. Your description will determine what key words will help people find your business. Start big, and write everything that your business does. Do you specialize in embroidered t-shirts for corporate businesses or sports teams? Do you also do direct to garment printing? What area do you service – city, neighborhood? Think of all the words a potential client could use to search for your services – custom tshirt, embroidery, dtg, sports jerseys, etc. and then rank them in order of importance so you can make sure you include at least 10 keywords into your description.
Bing Places lets you put in the same pieces of information as Google. We want to reiterate that the information should be exactly the same in these two places.
Facebook can seem like a social media giant and hard to navigate. But the reality is that a large portion of the population will use Facebook to search for companies and engage with them (more on that in a later post).
So while you will need a personal Facebook account to create your business Facebook page, you don’t need to be an active Facebook user to benefit from your business Facebook page. We’ll talk more in a later post about how to use Facebook and Social Media to expand your brand, but for now even just creating a business Facebook page will create another result that will show up when potential clients search for your business.
Facebook still has all the places for your NAP information, and your business description. But also has additional fields for your website if you have one, and of course a few photos to showcase your products.
Other places to help you improve SEO and build an online presence
Once you’ve completed the three profiles above, you can start adding to your online presence. Some of these will take a little bit more time to search out.
Community forums can be anything from joining a Facebook group, a chamber of commerce, or city website. It may take a little more digging to find these forums, but by actively taking part it allows you to create exposure for your business. Listing your business on your local chamber of commerce or city website is free, and a lot of times there aren’t enough local businesses doing this, so the chances of your business being seen are higher.
You can look for other custom apparel Facebook groups, or if you provide jerseys for a local sports team, join up, and show your support for the team, and when you leave a comment you can leave your business name and website. But remember to keep it natural, and don’t spam.
Reviews are just like referrals. They can have a huge impact on your business. Ask your current clients to leave reviews on your Facebook page, on Google, or Yelp. Let them know that you’d really appreciate it and it’d help your business.
Facebook also allows clients to “check-in” to your business when they visit your shop. This simply creates a notification on their newsfeed to share with their friends what they got up to for the day. You can even offer small promotions to clients who check-in to encourage them.
If you have a niche business, or a supplier for a local sports team or a company that has their business listed on these sites, you can leave your own review: “Proud supplier of this business! Supper friendly staff, and they always have a coffee for me when I come by.” It help both your client and you.
Manta.com is another place where you can list your business information. It’s something of a small business directory. Just to keep in mind though that we have noticed that companies that are on this site get a reasonable amount of spam from other companies offering to help them increase their SEO. The reality is, you can do most of this yourself, and for free.
If you decide to build a website, use the information you wrote from your NAP and your description here as well. Keep those keywords in mind when you’re writing up copy (or having someone else write it for you). If you hire someone else to build your website for you, chance are they know, or have someone on their team that is familiar with SEO basics and can help build that in for you.
If you decide to jump into YouTube, you’ll want to be prepared to regularly post something. Even if it’s just a video of you making a client’s order, or quick tour of your workshop. YouTube is one of the top places people will go to search for things so having a YouTube page will increase your search rankings. Just make sure you have reasonable quality content. Having YouTube videos will also allow you to have content that can be shared by yourself or your clients on Facebook, Twitter, and so on.
Whether you’re a commercial embroidery business or a small home-based business doing t-shirt transfers, having an online presence is crucial. It provides potential clients with information about your business, and helps build credibility. Start small with the first three things we mentioned and then start growing out from there. By creating an online presence and increasing your SEO you can get ahead of the competition and start growing your business.