Many small businesses these days are trying to do more as a means of increasing their visibility online, so that they can better connect with consumers in their areas. However, in a lot of cases, owners may not have the fundamental understanding of how potential customers are able to successfully find them online.
While there are many ways that an average person may be able to find a company online, it's important for small businesses in particular to find out the ways in which they can make themselves more visible, according to a report from Long Island Newsday. Interestingly, recent data suggests that natural searches are still the No. 1 way in which consumers find companies online, with 54 percent of all adults nationwide doing so via this method last year. And while that was down from 61 percent as recently as 2010, it was up from 50 percent in 2011.
Social networks came in second among these search options, but well behind the No. 1 spot, with just 32 percent of consumers, up from one-quarter in 2011, the report said. Links from other sites registered 28 percent, down from 31 percent the year before, and paid search made up the remaining 18 percent, though that surged from just 8 percent on an annual basis.
For this reason, it's important for small business owners to do two things when it comes to trying to increase their visibility online, the report said. The first is knowing how consumers in general are already finding their companies' websites, and the second is making sure they're finding the most cost-effective ways of boosting popularity in areas where they may be lagging.
What does that mean?
One of the easiest ways to figure out how any website is being discovered online is to simply sign up for an analytics service that will give companies all kinds of information about who's finding the site in the first place, and how they're doing it, the report said. Using simple search engine optimization tactics and taking the steps to build up a social media presence are two extremely low- or no-cost ways to boost visibility. But many companies may feel they're doing just fine in this area, and may instead want to focus on growing visibility in other types of means for drawing eyes to their sites.
While that's certainly a good goal to have, owners may want to go about the methods for doing so cautiously, as some can be fairly expensive if they're not managed properly, the report said. For instance, pay-per-click services can certainly carry high costs, especially because the average amount of money paid to companies which place these ads is about $3 per click, which comes with no guarantee of the visitor staying on the site for longer than a few seconds.
One method that is growing in popularity in recent years involves email marketing, the report said. This helps to ensure that only people who want to see a company's ads are actually doing so, and thus ensures a more captive audience which still may not know about various products are services which are being offered at the present time. This may also allow companies to promote more than one thing at once; in addition to a sale on a business site itself, they can also include links to Facebook or Twitter accounts, and the like.
While increased visibility online may lead to more revenues, another way owners may be able to help their companies' bottom lines is by finding more affordable small business insurance policies, including those for liability insurance, which can become more expensive as companies grow.