8 Big Mistakes Small Businesses Make Online

Having a local business takes a lot of work and effort. You are constantly competing and working countless hours to achieve success. Making the leap to having a digital presence will always be beneficial in today’s day and age.

Unfortunately, most small businesses make some, if not all, of these big mistakes online.

1. Not on Social Media

If you are a business owner or work for a business that refuses to have social media, you are missing out!  74% of American adults internet users use Facebook. Regardless of opinion, your potential customers are on various social media networks.

This number will only increase in time as the world get more mobile and users will want to find what they want on the go.

Which Social Media Site(s) Should You Be On?

With dozens of social media sites out there, I always recommend starting out with a Facebook page. You can then add other mediums such as Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram.

Creating a Facebook business page isn’t hard and takes a few minutes.  Log into Facebook and click “Create a Page” on the left sidebar. Then select “Local Business or Place” and that’s it!

You do not have to hire a web design company and spend hundreds of dollars to “have your own Facebook page”. Facebook will walk you through the process of completing your own page.

2. Lack of a Local Optimized Microdata

If you have a website, getting seen from search engines such as Google, Bing & Yahoo is crucial.  More visibility leads to more calls, leads, walk-ins, and sales.  One way for search engines to understand your business and its location is to read your website’s code.

We recommend adding Schema code to the website. To do this, go to http://schema-creator.org/organization.php and fill out your business information. Once you fill out your information, you will need to copy & paste the code into your website. Your web developer or someone who is tech savvy should be capable of doing this.

When users search for a term related to your local business, your website will be more likely to rank on top.

3. Not Understanding Your Target Market

I’ve spoken to many small businesses and it seems that a majority of them often mistake a “dream” target market vs “actual” target market. Or worse, they haven’t even bothered thinking about it!

A way to remedy this problem is to start tracking your customer base. For the next few weeks, write down a customer’s main demographic info when they come into your business.  Feel free to guestimate, any insight is better than no insight. After you get a better understanding of your market, you can start catering content & promotions off of those insights.

4. Ignoring Review Sites

Creating a website & having a social media presence is not enough for people to find your business. Small businesses tend to neglect reviews on social media pages & review sites (Yelp, Google, etc). This not only looks bad, but it also gives potential customers the impression that you don’t care.

Thanking customers for good reviews and responding to the critical reviews will help new customers see that you care about them. Review sites are often a great place to shed light on problem areas of your business that you improve.

5. Ignoring Local Citations

Your business name, address, and phone information (NAP) is spread out to hundreds of local directories & review websites (Yellow Pages, DexKnows, Superpages, Urbanspoon, etc). Unfortunately, it’s highly likely that this information ends up being incorrect.

For example; an address could be incorrect, or the name of your business in an online directory is misspelled.  Or maybe a phone number  from a previous business owner that worked in the same location is in your listing.

These errors happen to almost any local business. Because of wrong information, companies are often missing out on future sales.

You have a couple of options to remedy this issue. You can use this list of local citation websites and manually make those changes. Or you can save time by using automated software such as Yext or Moz Local. The tool finds your local listings across the web and automatically makes the correct changes.

You’ll receive major SEO benefits and potential users from those local citation websites. Also, your company info will be easier to find across the web.

6. Afraid to Show Personality on Social Media

I’m saddened by the amount of social media pages that only post website updates and blast out “limited time promos”. There is nothing wrong with that, but social media is the humanizing medium between brand and consumer.

Don’t be afraid to make a meme, create a video that mimics the latest trend,  or make a joke with a visitor that comments on a post.

If you are a pizza parlor, take a photo of a custom pizza you made and share it. If you sell insurance, create a daily graphic with a quote of bizarre excuses. Hell, if you sell paint, show off awesome looking buildings or provide color guides.

7. Don’t Have A Website

Fun Fact: 45% of small businesses don’t have a website. For reference, in 2010, there were 27.9 million small businesses.  Just having social media profiles will get a company so far.

Having a website a strong trust signal, lets the business tell their story, and provides useful information. It also is a great gateway to gain additional traffic with search engines.

There are some platforms that make making a website much easier – something like Web.com for example. If you know of a business owner without a website, inform them that they are missing out on potential growth.

8. Not Using Google Analytics

This free tool lets webmasters track user behavior on a website. Some insights you can view include; Location of users, pages they have landed on, total traffic, sources of traffic, and much more.

Analytics implementation is often overlooked when a website is first built. In some cases, site owners can forget it’s even on their website. To see if you have analytics on your website, do the following:

  1. Right click anywhere on your page
  2. Select “View Page Source”
  3. Once that page opens, press “Ctrl + F”
  4. Type “UA-”

Keep looking for “UA-[number]” in your code. If you cannot find a number after “UA-”, that generally means you don’t have Analytics code. If you don’t have a code, immediately create a Google analytics account and follow their instructions.

Luckily most CMS platforms have an option to let you insert your analytics code with ease.