This month I’ve had the pleasure of presenting my top tips for gaining clients with online marketing at our Spring Soiree events. I’ve had great feedback from many of you about this presentation so thought it may be helpful to share this information with those of you who couldn’t make it to our events…

In order to gain new clients to our businesses it’s so important to be found in Google, which is where many new clients search for a new business starts. The first couple of tips featured here are ways in which you can increase your rankings in Google.

Tip 1 – Make sure your business is listed on Google Places
Google Places is a free of charge service that is specifically designed for local searches made in Google. It is always shown on the first page of Google (prime real estate!) so it’s absolutely essential that you list your business here – and you don’t even have to have a website in order to be listed. For instructions on how to do this click here. Make sure when going through this process you include as much information as possible on your Google+ Profile page such as images of your clinic and team, your company logo, website links and a description about your business and the services you provide.

Tip 2 – Ask your clients to place a Google+ review for you
Once you have your Google+ Profile page set up it’s a great idea to encourage your clients to place a review on this page for you. Reviews will help your ranking in the Google Places listings and of course helps potential clients decide whether or not to do business with you. These reviews are seriously underutilized in our industry so it’s not difficult to stand out amongst your competitors even if you can get just 3 or 4 reviews. Make it simple for your clients to place a review by sending a follow up email to them after their visit with a link to your Google+ page. A word of warning though – do not solicit or create fake reviews. Consumers are savvy these days and will see through too many ‘great’ reviews, not to mention if Google suspect you of this, they could delete you from Google altogether!

Tip 3 - List your business on as many online directories as possible
Google loves it when your website is listed on other people’s websites. It gives your website credibility with Google and is then more likely to be ranked more highly on relevant searches. Make sure to ask your suppliers to add links to your website from theirs. The other thing to do is to make sure you are listed on online directory sites like Yellow Pages, Localist and Finda. These sites often get #1 rankings in local Google searches. It is really important that your listings (free or paid) have as much detail about your business as possible on them. A company description, email address, website, social media links, address and of course phone number.

Tip 4 – Consider your keywords
Keywords are the search terms that a potential client will type into Google in order to find you. These are such an important part of being found. I suggest that you put together a list of 10-20 keywords that you think are most important for your business e.g. ‘beauty therapy’, ‘facials’, ‘massage’ etc. You then want to weave these keywords in throughout your website. But remember, your clients will most likely be typing your location in too e.g. ‘facial Rotorua’ so making sure the area/s that you service are also included throughout your website is also very important. Your websites also need to be optimised for search – talk to your website providers for help with this.

Tip 5 – Make sure you have a professional online presence
Once we’re ranking well in Google we want to make sure that the website that potential clients are clicking through to actually represent our businesses well. If your website is messy, unprofessional, difficult to navigate or worst of all not working properly, you are going to loose that client instantly. Ensure your contact details are easily found, that there are clear call to actions and the pages are clean and easily read. Incorporating online bookings into your website is another must have if you can. Images of your business and your team are also a great addition, as are client testimonials, so that the potential client can get a feel for who you are and how great the service you provide is. This also extends to your Facebook pages. Make sure these are filled out completely with all details and ensure you write a good description of your business including your business name, area you service and those all important key words, as this information can also help you be found in Google. Our new microsites have been designed to help your businesses have a professional online presence (as well your own online shop and much more) Check out www.enhancechurtonpark.co.nz which is an example of a microsite and feel free to get in touch with me if you are interested in learning more.

Tip 6 – Image is King
Social media is a great way to gain new clients, yet can be time wasting if we’re not maximising the exposure of our posts. Images and videos are favoured by Facebook over just text posts so by incorporating images into your posts they will instantly be more likely to be seen. It is easy to create great images for social media by using free online tools like Canva.com and Picmonkey.com. Facebook does have some restrictions though on the amount of text you can use on an image if you want to advertise it, so make sure to use the Facebook grid tool to check your images before posting them.

Tip 7 – Facebook should no longer be considered a free service
It is rumoured that only 5%, possibly even as low as 1-2% of your fans will see your Facebook posts now if you do not pay for the post to be advertised. Whilst this is unfortunate, I still believe that Facebook is an excellent advertising medium for small businesses, but only if it is used correctly! If you do want to ‘boost’ your posts on Facebook make sure you target these posts. This is easily done in Facebook (read how to here). Probably the most important form of targeting for local businesses is to make sure you target your posts to the area that you actually work in i.e. you don’t need the whole of NZ seeing your posts only the people located in the area that your business actually operates in.