Search engines are a part of our lives now. Google handles more than a trillion searches in a year and at least a few of those are your customers. The internet is an era-defining advancement for mankind and it can be an incredibly powerful tool for you. While companies like google do their best to keep their search engines up-to-date, getting discovered online is up to you. Rather than wandering down the high street to see what’s around, consumers are going online more and more often to find what they’re looking for. Whether they’re just browsing their local area, or searching for something specific, the internet is most customer’s first port of call.

What Do I Need To Do?

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) may seem daunting, but it’s actually quite simple. At the end of the day, it’s all about presence and being search-able. This means you need to take control of the information that’s out there, about your shop. Make sure that what’s out there says what you want to say and that it can be found easily, by people that don’t necessarily know it’s there.

The best way to manage your online presence is by personally putting yourself online. By taking a direct role in putting your business out there you can make sure that you’re easy to find. Think about what people who don’t know you, but are looking for your business will search. Using these search-terms in your online presence will make you easier to find. It’ll also mean that when a customer finds you online, they’ll find a post or a page that you’ve made yourself, not something that a stranger has written about you online.

Search Engines and Directories

The most important first-step for your business is to take command of your Google presence. This begins with Google ‘my business’. Google My Business is a simple form that allows you to present yourself to your consumers. There are a number of ways you can appear on google, you don’t necessarily have to do anything yourself; Google shares data with, and even buys data from, other big data companies. There’s even a company that walks the streets, noting down where shops are, their names and what they sell, all by hand. These companies enter your information into their databases and put this data online. You’re on the web, whether you like it or not. It’s an unspoken rule of modern business. People are searching online and finding your business, without your help, so you might as well take control of the situation.

Filling in your business details and representing yourself to your customers, the way you want to be represented, is a great way to put your company on the map (specifically, google maps) and send the right kind of message to your customers. You can make sure you’re sending the right message by putting up accurate details for your location, name and contact information, as well as putting up lots of pictures; a photo is worth a thousand words and a few pictures of your shop can tell customers who you are in a very powerful way.

We’re mostly talking about Google here, as the most popular search engine and local business directory, but there are other services as well. Yelp, Bing, YP.com, Foursquare; these are all business directories that help businesses like yours get discovered. Putting your business on these directories can help boost your online presence and get you discovered by more customers.

Social Media

Another big name that’s worth giving special attention to is Facebook. While the site might seem like it’s mostly for teenagers (and, recently, politicians) to fawn over themselves and get into petty squabbles, it has another side for businesses that can really help you get discovered. The big deal with Facebook is its sheer size. Facebook has more than 2 billion monthly users. Putting your business on Facebook could massively increase the visibility of your business. Even if you aren’t on Facebook yet, your customers probably talk about you on there. Give them a real, official Facebook page, for your shop. Customers can ‘like’, ‘share’ and ‘follow’ you (to keep up with your shop, on Facebook, and show their friends what you do) is a great way to turn your online presence into a useful tool for your store.

A phone on a table, with scrabble pieces spelling out 'social media'

While Facebook is the biggest name in social media, it’s sibling sites (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest) are still visited by millions of users a month and can really help you get discovered. Creating a page on these sites, and playing to each site’s strengths, can seriously boost your online presence. Twitter is a great place to engage with customers, where Instagram can help show off your store and your products. Playing to these strengths can help you maximise the impact of your social media, netting more online ‘followers’ and more ‘likes’. This, in turn, will see your shop rank higher and higher in searches, as you become more popular.

Read Vend’s full article on retail SEO here.

If you want to get in touch, or have any questions about SEO, let us know!