Your website is one of your most important marketing tools. A recent report indicated that around 76 per cent of people use their computers to search for information before they head out to eat or shop. There are also more and more consumers using their smartphones to research what to eat and where to get it.
This means that you not only need to ensure your website appears high in search rankings, but also that the infor-
mation it contains is useful and relevant.
|More than three-quarters of consumers turn to
online research when deciding where to eat or shop.
You have probably heard the term SEO (short for search engine optimization) being thrown around a lot these days, not to mention a lot of talk about the need to improve it. It may not be necessary to pay a computer expert thousands of dollars to improve your ranking, but do make sure that you have the basics down. This means including your town or city name in your keywords, especially in page titles and page headings. Be sure to include your address and phone number on every page of your website, and include your local area code in order to make it easier for Google to match it to your area.
Try to incorporate words like bakery, bread, cakes, desserts, cookies, sweets or any other words that describe your operation on multiple pages, using these words as many times as possible.
If you haven’t done so already, add a directions page, preferably with an embedded Google map, giving instructions to find your bakery by car or by public transit.
Claim your place
A Place page is a business listing on Google that gives users detailed information about any business in the world. By claiming your Place page, you can increase traffic and give customers the opportunity to share reviews. You can also post photos, operating hours, a link to your website and other information to your page. Make sure that all the information about your bakery is accurate and up-to-date.
Getting listed on Google Places can improve your search engine ranking in local search results. For example, someone who searches for “bakery, Toronto” might find your website at the top of the list, bringing you a lot of extra business. Note that Google keeps changing the way it ranks results as more and more business are added. Google currently places particular emphasis on the quality of the information provided on various websites to determine which businesses deserve to be at the top of the list. What you put on your website also remains critical in determining how your site will rank in search results.
Quote your customers
One way to increase your chances of being listed in the top search results is to have your customers submit brief reviews of your bakery to Google Maps and third-party review sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp and UrbanSpoon. You can also, feature customer testimonials on your own website.
People don’t want to hear what you have to say about your bakery – they want to hear what other customers think. Authentic testimonials from your loyal customers are invaluable. Encourage your customers to write a testimonial online or, if they pay you a verbal compliment, ask permission to quote them on your website.
By getting a lot of people to talk about you in social media, you can improve your search rankings and gain a lot of free marketing from word-of-mouth advertising. Set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account, or look into location-based marketing tools like FourSquare. Be careful not to get bogged down by having too much on your plate. To ensure success, tackle one social media platform at a time, making sure you’ve mastered the skills needed to use it effectively, before moving on to another.
Videos get special priority in search engine results, so upload some of your bakery to YouTube and post them on your website. You can get very creative with your videos. For example, consider posting videos on how to decorate a cake, bake bread, make cupcakes or roll pie dough. The possibilities are endless.
The most important step in making your website work for your business is to update it regularly. There is nothing worse than a stagnant site that never changes. Make sure you change your photos, post weekly promotions and newsletters, or keep a blog on your site. The information needs to change regularly to keep customers coming back.
A well-tended website will keep your bakery top of mind for loyal customers, while bringing new faces through the door. / BJ