In the current climate, it is now more important than ever that businesses ensure they have a strong level of online visibility.
Online visibility can come from a variety of sources including paid and organic, as well as different mediums such as search engines and social media. The most widely used platform; search engines, are also one of the most neglected environments when looking to maximise visibility. Many businesses simply set up a website and then undertake little to no upkeep following, minimising online performance and visibility within SERP (Search Engine Results Pages).
There are a number of different methods companies can undertake to increase visibility and remain top-of-mind. This guide will take a look at a couple of methods involving two of the world’s largest search engines; Google and Bing.
The main way to generate paid visibility on search engines is through paid ads. These are ads which appear above organic search results or as banners on relevant websites allowing businesses to maximise exposure to viewers. During COVID, keywords and search terms have changed drastically. It is therefore important that organisations look to keep track of search trends within their industry and update ad copy and banner ads to focus on key services & information that users will value in the current climate, as well as highlighting the business is still operational. For example, an educational institution may promote their online study options, whereas retailers will aim to showcase their click and collect or home delivery services.
Costs for these spots vary depending on industry, level of competition, search volume for keywords etc. The ads themselves appear almost identical to organic results, however they have the term “Ad” appearing next to them. While paid visibility is a valuable asset for businesses, it isn’t sustainable as a long term play without an effective organic base and should be used in tandem with organic methods to maximise exposure.
Organic visibility focuses on areas where users will naturally see a website through SERP without the business making any payment for this visibility. The most common way is through the SERP results itself which ranks websites based on the user’s search term and the websites SEO ranking. To make sure that visibility is maximised there are a few different aspects that businesses need to focus on with their website. This is echoed across both Google and Bing and includes ensuring that relevant, useful and consistent content is published, ensuring the website is optimised in the backend and the right target keywords are used throughout a website.
Business listings are another source of organic visibility and are vital for local search. For Google, these listings are created through a Google My Business (GMB) listing, whereas for Bing it is through Bing Places for Business (BPB).
Google My Business listings provide a wealth of information to customers, including opening hours, contact information, reviews and even a link to Google Maps. However, while a GMB account can be beneficial, this is only the case when it reflects current information about the business. For instance, during this time many businesses have either had to change hours of operation or had to close down altogether. A listing for retailer Target highlights this with the “temporarily closed” banner appearing just under their profile photo. This allows for customers to plan how they interact with the business and reduces the chance of any miscommunication or negative customer experiences. Another example is through the products and services on offer. COVID has caused a lot of businesses in the hospitality industry to adapt and change to delivery and takeaway options. Many of these businesses will show their services as available to provide the best chance of enticing customers to still enjoy their food, while adhering to COVID guidelines.
With Bing Places for Business, many of these aspects are similar to GMB. BPB even allows users to import the information from their GMB account to minimize any added work. Businesses that don’t have a GMB account can easily create an account on Bing Places for Business through an easy step by step setup option to ensure the maximum exhibition of the company on the platform. The main difference between the two business listings is in relation to reviews; Bing uses more 3rd party reviewers such as Yelp & Zomato, compared to Google which focus on Google reviews solely. Similarly to GMB, BPB needs to be consistently updated and it’s important to ensure the information supplied is equivalent to the information on the GMB account, to ensure consistency across the platforms.
There are a number of other tactics that can be employed to ensure that users searching for your business have a strong understanding of your offering during COVID. Blogs and EDMs (Emails) are the perfect way to promote and inform potential/current customers on changes to the business during the pandemic, whilst also offering insights into different services, products, even trends within a specific industry. On your website pop-up announcement boxes or website notice strips can provide direct information to users about operating hours or changes to service delivery during this time.
Being visible online is crucial to the survival of any business, even more so in these uncertain times. To maximise your businesses online visibility during COVID, talk to the web professionals at Redline Digital today.