Put Your Business on the Map (Literally)

on-the-mapFor just about any business, it’s absolutely crucial that your customers be able to find you. For small, local businesses that rely on traffic to a storefront, it’s even more critical. And, in this digital age, having your business online can be a major factor in potential customers finding your front door.

That’s why I was surprised to recently learn that, according to Google, only 37% of businesses have claimed a local business listing on a search engine. That’s a whopping 63% of local businesses that have no control over how their information appears when Joe and Jane Public go searching on the web, Google Maps, or mobile devices.

If you’re having a panic attack, I’ll wait here while you open a new tab and Google your business.

..

.

Back? Good.

Now, if you’ve already claimed your business listing, awesome! High fives for you!

If your search was less than effective, well, that’s fine, too. You’re not alone, and it’s a quick fix. You don’t even need to have a website!

Google makes it incredible easy to claim your business’s turf. And, with about 85% of all search engine traffic coming through the Big G, it makes a whole lot of sense to make sure your business is online.

Now, there are three key reasons why you should claim your business listing on Google:

  1. Control Your Listing
  2. Fast, Free & Easy
  3. Another Marketing Tool

Let’s take a deeper look at these point.

If You Post It, They Will Come

Consider this: 4 in 5 consumers will use a search engine to get the store address, hours, and directions for a local business.

By getting your business set up on Google, you make it much easier for your potential customers to find you when they hop on Google Search and Maps. Not only can you ensure your business information is accurate, but you can also connect with them right from the get-go.

Simply put, more customers can find you when you’re on Google.

Easy Peasy & Completely Freesy

One of the best things about getting your business listed on Google is that it is quick, easy, and free. “ONLY 10 MINUTES!” the marketing literature says, and that’s pretty much true. Basically, you simply hop over to https://www.google.com/business, search for your business, and lay claim to your kingdom.

You can follow Google’s simple guide (and get some other great tips) or this walkthrough or another guide or even this. You get the point.

Bottom line: it’s simple to do and free and puts you in control of your business on the most used search engine in the world. Why wouldn’t you do it?

Marketing Opportunities Ahead

Here’s probably the coolest part of controlling your Google business listing: you can add pictures of your business, respond to reviews, link to a menu, or even create a virtual tour. This is another way to connect with customers on a deeper level.

Just finish a remodel? Show off your new look on the search. Hungry for feedback? Ask your customers if they’ll give you a review on Google to spread the word (3 in 4 consumers say it’s important to read reviews before visiting a business, dontcha know?).

Your listing on Google is another touchpoint with your clients, and a gateway for potential customers.

Make Your Mark

Don’t be a part of the 63% that isn’t on the map. Make sure your business is listed on Google. It’s easy, quick, and free, and may just be the simplest way to connect with your next customer.

Domain Names, Web Hosting, and Why You Need Both

webstuff

“I have a domain. Do I need web hosting, too?”

It seems like we hear that question or something similar at least once a week. It’s a fair and important question, because if you goof that up, your website could go poof.

First things first, let’s answer the question: Do you need a domain and web hosting?

Yes, you absolutely need both. To understand why, let’s take a look at what each does.

A Domain by Any Other Name Would Redirect to Your Site?

Plainly, a domain is your website’s address. In other words, it’s what people type into their browser to get to your site. You want Nike? Clickety-clack nike.com in the address bar and you’re there.

To get a domain, you work with a domain registrar, such as GoDaddy or Name.com, and they’ll reserve your desired web address for a fee. While you have rights to the domain, it’s all yours. That means no other individual or company can use it. Neat.

But a domain is just one part of the equation. To deliver your website to the masses, you’ll also need a web hosting service.

The Web Hostess with the Mostest

At the most basic level, a web hosting service operates servers and rents out space to individuals and organizations to store their websites. Essentially, you pay to keep your stuff on a big computer that can be accessed via the web. Web hosting services, like Bluehost and HostGator, will store the files that make up your website.

So, how does your domain name work with your web hosting service?

An Address, A Building, and Your Website

Probably the easiest way to explain domains and hosting is to think about a building.

The domain is the building’s address. It’s how people find the building. Your web hosting is the structure itself. It’s what stores all the cool stuff you want people to come see. The rooms and furniture in the building are the pages and content on your site.

Now, you can have your address at an empty lot, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense. And, you probably wouldn’t construct your building in the middle of nowhere if you wanted people to come visit you.

It goes the same for your webpage. If you have a domain name but your website isn’t hosted, yourawesomewebsitethatisreallycoolandstuff.com won’t connect to anything. The reverse is true, too. If you have your website hosted but no domain name reserved, people won’t know how to get to your site.

That’s why both a domain and hosting are vital for your website.

One Last Thing

Keep in mind, many domain registrars and web hosting providers now offer both products to customers. If you don’t use one provider for both services, it’s very important to ensure you’re up to date on billing for both. You wouldn’t want that shiny website of yours to go dark, would you?