Easy steps to get your business online in 12 hours or less
The Score by Jay Shek
1. Create Unique Content
Similar to when you cook a recipe or do your taxes, the best way to save time is to prepare yourself in advance. Just like you would gather all your ingredients or tax information together before starting those projects, be sure to gather all of the materials you need for your website first so you aren’t scrambling to find them.
Be sure to get all of your business information exactly as it should appear online (business name, address, phone number, business category, etc.). Also, get some rich content to include about your business, including at least three or four high-quality photos representing your business (these can includes photos of the owners, staff, store, products or customers) and a concise written description of your business. A video works great too and should be included in your marketing plans if you have the tools or budget to create one.
2. Find Your Followers
Use your great new content to build your social media identity. Use this to pull in new customers and to keep in touch with existing customers. Turn locals into true fans and loyal followers by using Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to create specials and promote discounts, not to mention just simply chatting with them.
Create a tone that best represents your business and be consistent throughout all of your platforms. Contrary to popular belief, building your social media footprint often can and should be done before Step 3 (the website). This can be a confusing step and a lot of business owners ask, “What should I post on social media?” If you’re not sure, I recommend finding other businesses in the same category that you admire and studying what types of content and deals they post. To avoid competition issues, you should pick businesses in a different city than you.
3. If You Build It They Will Come
Use a basic website builder that lets you create a site without any technical knowledge, which you can update on your own. (If you have to hire someone to build it, it takes time, it’s pricey, and you’re stuck hiring that person again when you need to update it).
The quality of free website tools has increased tremendously in the past several years. These tools compete to provide the best designs and high-quality websites. Then they try to upsell you on paid features, but it’s up to you to decide whether these paid features are right for your business. Don’t forget: you are not obligated to pay for any of them.
4. Verify, Verify, Verify
In many cases, your website may not be the first place consumers find you. They tend to get annoyed when they find outdated or inconsistent information about your business on the Web. Be sure to confirm that your business information is correct throughout all major local search sites, such as Google Maps and Yelp.
You should ensure that your name, address, phone number and business category are exactly as you want them and consistent in wording and spelling across all sites. Consistent information benefits consumers and also makes it easier for search engines to confirm your business identity across the Web and promote you in search rankings.
5. Make It Work on Mobile
More and more consumers are searching from their mobile phones instead of their computers. Be sure your website works correctly and clearly displays key information about your company on a mobile phone because this is a common scenario now.
Many website building tools automatically create a mobile layout for your website. If yours does not, consider adding a mobile-specific website using tools such as DudaMobile. At the simplest level, be sure to access your website from both an iPhone and an Android phone to make sure that it displays correctly on both types of phones. These are the two most likely mobile platforms consumers will use to find you.
Jay Shek is the CEO and co-founder of Locality. Before that, he managed finance and analytics at Snapfish, an online photo company acquired by Hewlett-Packard.