When you read about the rise of online business, there is often an assumption that it is something that (at best) sits alongside traditional, brick-and-mortar, offline business. More often, it is something that is seen as a direct competitor to the main street – and one that is winning that battle, putting the town centers of our small towns into disarray. In business, few things are actually that simple – for every business that is shuttering because it couldn’t compete with the digital space, there are others that are thriving. Those businesses that are closing, also, are not exclusively doing so because of online threats.
Indeed, if you are running a brick-and-mortar business, there is no real mileage to be gained in trying to outfight or outthink the online sphere. The best bet is to play smart and use online features, such as SEO, to benefit your offline business. It’s not always going to be easy to do, but if you have an appreciation of how SEO works, you can certainly harness its principles to give wings to any business.
Give every chance to review your business online
Although people still use brick-and-mortar businesses, and still show up in person, they increasingly find those businesses online. We’ve all done it, when we aren’t familiar with a town we’re visiting, or when we’ve never needed to use a certain type of business before. Searches such as “Discount furniture store [place name]” or “Dodge mechanic near me” will bring up results which often include reviews and star ratings. So if you sign up to services like Google My Business, happy customers can review you and help you become a go-to business for curious first-timers.
Offer some services online
The more people look for your business online, the higher it will get in search rankings. They’re more likely to look online if you offer some of your services directly online. For a convenience store this can be an order and delivery service (or click and collect). That’s simple. But how can you use this as SEO for pawn shops, for example? There are a few options. You can allow people to upload pictures of their item for sale, which you can then view and give an approximate value. You can also host video content on items that have come into the store; if your content is entertaining enough, then people will be curious about your business.
Build a following on social media
Social media divides opinion, inside the business world as well as outside. A business that does most of its trade offline may very well be suspicious of the extremely online world of social media. However, there is a skill to being “good” at social media and to gaining a following, and if you know how to craft a post using pictures or video, then you can gain a certain amount of fame just from being “that store that has a funny Twitter account”. Use that account to link to your website, and post special offers and business updates in the style your followers have become used to, and every retweet can become a new potential customer.