Imagine how cool it would be to be invisible…You could sneak into the cinema and watch films for free (providing no-one sits on you) while pinching popcorn from the person next to you, think of all the major events you could get up close to, the conversations you could listen in to…you would be able to observe life from a totally different perspective.
But what about the downside? How lonely would it be if you couldn’t interact with people? After all, who would be able to listen to a bodiless voice without thinking they are going mad? You would get injured by people walking into you. How would you get a sales person or waitress to sell you clothes or food?
After the novelty had worn off, the negative effect of being invisible would start to outweigh the initial fun. So when would it definitely NOT be a bonus to be invisible? If you were a TV actor, perhaps?Or a safety steward?In these situations, it is impossible to be successful unless you can be seen.
Now let’s think about a business. Many businesses would love to be invisible for taxes, but joking apart, what about the impact it would have on your customers?There are absolutely no advantages to being invisible to your customers, and yet still today, that is exactly how some businesses appear (or rather don’t appear) to their customers.How could this happen to you?
When it comes to making an informed purchase decision, customers are much more savvy today.They won’t just take your word for how good your product or service is. They will research companies and products online, looking for the best solution for themselves. You may have the best product in the world which will match their demands 100% better than any other company but if they can’t see your business quickly you won’t even enter the running for their business.
If you have a suspicion your business may be invisible to a lot of your customers at the moment, there is no need to panic. Unlike the original Invisible man, your visibility can be restored with a little work.Here is some great advice on how to restore your company profile to the attention of your customers.
For any local business, customers who live within 5 – 10 miles are their lifeblood. While some businesses may have a local customer base slightly further afield, local customers will be your most important consumer. This is especially true if your business provides services they can’t get remotely. For example, who gets their teeth fixed by email?
As we mentioned earlier, customers want to make a much more informed buying decision. They want to research what products or services are available, which local businesses can supply them, what price they are and which company offers the best value and service. What’s more, they want to be able to look online whenever and wherever they may be – at work, out having a coffee or just generally on the go. Smartphones and tablets have made the internet portable so your business needs to be able to go where the people are.
But having a website isn’t the end of it. It doesn’t automatically follow that the website you see on your desktop computer will display correctly and be user friendly when a person looks at it on their smartphone. Don’t assume it is, CHECK! By looking at your site on a smartphone and trying to navigate around it, you can make sure visitors to your site get the experience and information you want them to see quickly and easily. If your site isn’t optimised for mobile devices, it may be slow to load or clumsy to navigate. Smartphone users have notoriously short patience levels. If a site takes longer than 5 seconds to load they will simply go off to look at the next site.
Search engines are constantly being refined and people choose to use their mobile devices rather than a physical directory like Yellow pages. Today, the results from search queries are being delivered to people based on the location they are searching from, so local businesses near to the position of the searcher are shown first. That is only a plus for your business if the search engines can find you in the first place. So when was the last time you checked how visible you are in search results?
First, try a general search. Type in your business name. Can you see your business website listed? You should also be able to see other accounts like your Twitter, Facebook and Google+ Local pages, as well as reviews and articles that mention your business.
Next, try a more specific local search on Google maps. Go to http://maps.google.com. In the search box type in your city and the type of business you run. What the results bring up is a local area map with 4 – 10 little red balloon-shaped markers that have a letter on. Down the left hand side of the screen you will see the letter key for the markers, giving the business name and web address of each of the markers.
Here, you will see all the competition in your area marked out. As you hover over each marker, information about that business is shown. This page is great for making your business stand out from the competition especially in a highly competitive market. Can you see your business here?
One final check to do – try typing just your business telephone number into the search box. Ideally you should see your website, all your Google entries and any other inline directory you have added your company details in. But what do you see in the results? Are your details there or can you only see sites offering to reverse trace the number?
Do these checks give you confidence about the visibility of your business on the internet or are they confirming your worst fears…that no one out in cyberspace can find you?
You needn’t worry. Nothing is irreversible. With a little work on your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), you can turn it around. Is it all that vital? Yes it really is. If you have a local business that relies on customers coming through your door – say a dentist or restaurant – if your customer can’t find your business first on their mobile device while they are out and about, they will find a competitor instead.