When was the last time you went to a conference to network?
On 25 September 2017, the Mums Enterprise Roadshow event came to London. The Perfect Layout team took time out of their busy schedule to go and assess the event and see if any networking opportunities presented themselves.
Located in the London Business Design Centre close to Angel tube station, we arrived to see a queue of women already eagerly waiting to see what the day had in store for them and what new opportunities would arise. The uniqueness of this event was present early with the audience (mostly women) carrying babies on their fronts, backs and in buggies.
The atmosphere was one of anticipation and expectation (in between the background din of babies babbling) as the welcoming atmosphere embraced the almost playpen-like environment. It was refreshing to see how relaxed everyone was and feel the excitement of this day - potentially being the day that their life would change forever.
The main area was full of stalls offering women part-time and full-time opportunities of work. Flexible work that would allow them, if required, to fit around childcare. There were also franchises to be purchased for those wanting to take the plunge and truly be their own boss of something tried and tested. For those already in the throw of setting up their own business, there were companies offering outsourced services too.
The conference part of the event offered multiple tracks, where speakers changed every half an hour, talking about their areas of expertise. Many in the audience were frantically scribbling down their every word, in between offering their little ones a bite to eat or an iPad to keep them quiet.
Whilst we were there, we spoke to several interesting characters, but one in particular stood out. Her name was Poppy. A thirty-something from Hampstead Heath accompanied by her 3-year-old daughter. She was ready to go back to work, but not in her previous role as a Social Worker. She desired to have more kids in the future, but also wanted to start carving out something for her to work on now. Her dilemma was not knowing what she wanted to do. A feeling that resonates with so many of us. Do we ever truly work in an area that we love and enjoy until retirement?
She continued by saying that her passion was crocheting. She was able to crochet anything and everything. From an adult hat to baby booties for a newborn. She had sold some items through Etsy, had a Facebook page, but was at a loss as to how she could increase her visibility and actually begin making enough money so that she didn’t have to go back to work.
We told her about our business, Perfect Layout Digital Marketing. That we were a website company based in Romford, Essex, there to help small local companies across Essex and London to increase their visibility online.
We explained that having an e-commerce website was something that she should consider to really exploit her audience – which was effectively, the entire world wide web.
She would be able to display all her merchandise in categories and offer her clients a portal into what makes her company tick the way that it does. Having a website was a real must. It would allow her to have a blog and create interesting keyword rich content that would grow her followers. She was already on Facebook so we suggested that she join other social media platforms, like YouTube and Pinterest to optimise being seen. These platforms could then be linked back to her website where the full range of her merchandise could be viewed.
We also suggested that she put her business on local directories like Google My Business, Bing and Thomson Local. They were numerous other directories she could list her business on with the bonus of being all for free. The knock-on effect would be that search engines, like Google and Yahoo would see her business as being trustworthy and credible and rank her well.
Running a Google Adwords campaign was another way to be seen above competitors. It would allow you to set the budget and the keywords most likely to be searched for by your customer. As well as being seen above your competitors it works as a Pay Per Click which means that you only pay Google when a customer clicks on your advert.
Whilst these were all services that Perfect Layout were happy to do, we explained that a lot of it she would be able to do herself. Optimising her site (creating keyword rich content and backlinking to trustworthy external websites) may be something she could seek professional help with.
Poppy was a little overwhelmed at first, but grew more confident in understanding each aspect as we spoke over coffee. She was very grateful for our advice and felt empowered to know that her future could change if she decided to take the reins and explore the unknown.
But now she didn’t feel that she was quite so alone. She had the team at Perfect Layout to hold her hand and build up her knowledge about all things digital.
So what is a citation?
A citation, or being listed, is an online reference that contains information about a business, namely their name, address and phone number (NAP). This mention can be made on directories, like Thomson, Yell or 192, on websites like Netmums, or social media platforms like Facebook.
Google My Business is a core platform that all businesses should try and list their businesses on as it’s key to being seen on Google Maps. It also allows customers to connect with companies directly via a search, Maps or Google+.
Is it worth taking the time to cite your business on local directories?
Yes! It allows you to be found by a greater number of online customers and search engines like Google and Yahoo. The more directories your business is cited on, the better, as it will increase your chances to rank highly for local searches.
Online directories have replaced the paper versions of Yellow Pages and Thomson Local. Whilst they still exist in paper form, how many of us actually access them to find out where the Chinese restaurants are if visiting a new town? Or which shop on the high street sells your favourite perfume? Are you really going to carry a paper directory around, just in case you need it? Didn’t think so!
The fact is, online directories offer the facility for customers to find out much more about a business other than just the name, address and phone number. It has the added bonus of being accessible whilst on the move via your mobile phone, laptop or iPad.
Here is a list of the information that a business may include on a directory listing:
Listing a business on a directory is not difficult, but it can be time consuming. If you choose to give it a go yourself, make sure you do the job properly. If you don’t, it could affect your income, online rankings as well as your reputation.
Follow these tips to ensure that search engines, like Google, view you as a business that’s real and worth trusting and ultimately worth ranking:
Remember, citations that are accurate help your business to be discovered. Which business wouldn’t want the traffic to their website to increase?
Have you undertaken a review of where your business is cited lately?
Location, location, location - does your business need to be found outside of your registered address?
If you’re a business with offices in Emerson Park, how do you get seen online in other Essex areas like Romford, Hornchurch, Upminster and Chadwell Heath, or further afield like Brentwood, Chelmsford and Loughton? Read on as branching out may not be as difficult as you first thought.
Here are some commonly asked questions...answered!
Will I get more business if my website name reflects the area I’m working in?
Yes and no. For businesses that are looking to service one area only, putting the location in the domain name may help get you more customers. For example, Website Designers Essex is okay if Essex is the only location to be serviced. However, if your long-term plan is to seek clients in London, Kent and other home counties, making your business name broader (i.e. Perfect Layout Digital Marketing) would be more beneficial.
If I have more than one website to represent other areas I work in will this bring in more customers?
There are many companies that use this method and whilst some yield results, it isn’t the most productive use of resources. The more sites a business has the more marketing input into each site it will have to make. Duplicating content is hugely frowned upon so each site would again need individual attention to ensure that it’s unique. If your business is cited on business directories it’s important that the name, address and phone number (NAP) being listed appears on only one site. If not, search engines like Google and Yahoo, will become confused and their confusion may negatively affect your rankings.
How can one website be designed to incorporate all the areas where I want my business to be seen?
A website designer that can’t create for you a site that reflects multiple business areas is not doing their job! Along with the usual page headings there should be an areas we cover page that lists the services offered in an original format, including naturally interweaved keywords to get each page found.
What this goes back to is having a plan. Having a strategy helps your business focus and maximise what you already have. Well designed, optimised city pages may be the breakthrough you’ve been looking for to beat your competition.
So how far does your business go geographically? Are you missing out on being visible in these areas?