You need a full-service accounting firm for your small business. Instead of roaming the streets looking for one, I bet you start by searching online. Perhaps you read some Google reviews, crowd-source some recommendations on social media, check out the company’s LinkedIn to see if they’re legit, and browse through relevant listings in online directories. This simple example shows how, in today’s digital world, having a strong online presence is essential for small businesses looking to reach their target audiences, stay competitive, and grow their brands.
The beauty of the internet for businesses is that your prospective client(s) are just a click away. You can now educate, showcase your expertise, and solve their problems with your products and services across multiple channels. But with so many digital channels available, how can you ensure that your small business is effectively reaching and engaging with potential customers? I suggest taking stock of what you have by learning how to conduct an online presence audit for your small business.
An online presence audit is a comprehensive review and analysis of your business’ online presence, including your website, search engine optimization (SEO), social media accounts, and online directories. The purpose of the audit is to identify areas for improvement and ensure that you are effectively reaching your target audience. Armed with these insights, you’ll be able to root out and address any issues that are negatively impacting your target client’s online experience with your company.
How do you know that your digital marketing efforts are having an impact? By conducting an online presence audit, you can:
- Make informed decisions on how to reach the right people and attract more customers
- Ensure that you are keeping up with industry standards and staying competitive in your market
- Identify areas for improvement
- Save time and resources by identifying areas of focus and prioritizing your efforts
The first step in conducting an online presence audit is to gather as much information as possible about your business’ online presence by listing all the platforms that you use to promote your brand, including:
- Social media channels
- Chatbots and customer service channels
- Review sites
- Content platforms
- Google Business and other map applications
- Marketplaces and directories
Use a spreadsheet to keep track of all the channels and mark those that need updates. Don’t forget to check for platforms that mention your brand, even if you didn’t initiate the post. For example, if you’re a medical practice, patients may be talking about you on Healthgrades. Home services firms could have reviews popping up on Yelp. Even if you don’t want to put a lot of effort into these platforms, you need to be aware of those that are typical in your industry and monitor their impact on your brand.
Ensure that the key elements of your business’ branding (logo, business name spelling/case, and contact details) are identical across all the platforms listed in Step 1. Keeping these elements consistent reinforces your identity and makes it easier for customers to recognize and engage with your brand.
Is your brand introduction optimized and up to date on each platform? Different platforms allow for different lengths in the introduction, so you’ll need several versions—from 150 characters on an Instagram bio to 2,000 characters on LinkedIn’s About Us section. Regardless of the character limit, your core messages and value proposition should be consistent.
A website is the heart of your online presence, and ensuring it works hard for your business is essential. You need to review your business’ website in detail, including its design, content, SEO, and functionality.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for the visibility and ranking of your website on search engines like Google. It’s a common misconception that small businesses can’t compete—if you believe this, you’re missing out! There are lots of ways you can use SEO to gain organic traffic and inbound leads without needing a budget that can compete with a Fortune 500 brand. Start with these five questions:
- Have you claimed your Google Business profile?
- Is your website secure?
- Does your site contain any broken links?
- Have you optimized your page content and metadata for target keywords?
- Is your blog helping your SEO?
Looking for more? Get our free eBook for five quick optimization tactics.
Social media is an excellent way to connect with your audience and promote your business online. But are your social media accounts optimized and working effectively for your business? Here are four key considerations:
- Platforms: Are you on the right social media platforms for your business and target audience? Are there any platforms you’re not using that could benefit your business?
- Content: Is the content you’re sharing on social media relevant, informative, and engaging? Is it consistent with your brand and message?
- Engagement: How engaged is your audience on social media? Are you responding to comments and messages in a timely and professional manner?
- Campaign performance: How effective are your social media campaigns? Are they driving engagement and conversions?
You may also be interested in: Five considerations when establishing a business social media presence
Are you monitoring reviews on the various platforms listed in Step 1 and responding appropriately to both positive and negative feedback? It’s important to check in regularly to show customers that your brand is listening to them.
Across all channels, you need to aim for consistency in tone, vocabulary, and approach. Of course, there can be some differences from one platform to another, as long as these are intentional and align with your communication goals.
Our top tip when it comes to online content is to focus on making your content about your audience, highlighting the value they will gain from your service or product. What is the number one problem you solve for your customers? How do you do it better than any of your competitors? Businesses often make themselves the star of the show, but the truth is that understanding your target customer’s core problem and making them the hero in your online content will give them more reasons to choose you over your competitors.
Oh, and another one: be sure to use clear and concise calls to action to guide your audience where you want them to go (and check that all the links are working!).
Based on the information gathered during the audit, the next step is to make recommendations for improvement (tailored to your business’ unique goals and needs). Once you’ve made a list of fixes and improvements, it’s time to start making some changes. The list can feel overwhelming, so we recommend creating a priority column and working your way from high- to low-priority items. If it’s more than you have time to tackle, you can outsource the process to an experienced team.
Now that you know how to conduct an online presence audit, make sure it’s not a one-and-done activity. The digital world moves fast, and your business needs to keep up. The frequency with which you conduct online audits will depend on the nature of your business and the extent of your digital marketing footprint. For most small businesses, conducting a digital audit once a year should be sufficient.
Need someone to take you through the online presence audit steps?
Our team is on hand to conduct an online presence audit for your business. We’ll address the things that are working well, identify and implement potential improvements, and help you plan for future success. Let us make your digital marketing work for you! Contact us to request a consultation.