Small business owners should already have a business plan well into place for 2014. If you yourself are a small business owner and you don't have a business plan already in place for next year then you need to get started now! Success when Internet marketing comes from combining strategies with tactics as well as being open to revising and strengthening the original plan by analyzing the successes and failures from the year before.
Below are 6 items you should be marking off of your year-end checklist as we speak:
1. Claim your Google Maps listing –It doesn’t take long to do. Go to Google Maps and search for yourself (such as by business name and city name]). If your business is there, click the EDIT link, and then click CLAIM YOUR BUSINESS. If you’re not listed, use the Google Local Business Center and follow the directions to add your business.2. Do the same at Yahoo Local and Microsoft Live Search Maps – The steps are pretty similar. Search for your business on Yahoo Local and Microsoft Live Search Maps. Yahoo specifically asks, “Own this business?” with a link to claim it. Live Search has a link that says “Change Your Business Listing.” If you need to create listings, use these links: Yahoo Local and Microsoft Live Maps.
3. Claim your social media name/profiles – You may not be active in social media right now, but chances are good that you will be at some point. When you do, you’ll want to make sure you own your own profile on the important social media sites. With that in mind, create accounts for your business — using your company name — on sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace. Complete the profiles and be sure to link to your primary web site when possible. Even if you never use these social media profiles, at least you’ll know that no one else will be using your name.
4. Do basic online reputation management – What other people say about you online matters a lot. Bad business or product reviews can spread quickly, hurting your bottom line. At minimum, use Google Alerts to keep track of what people are saying. Use it to monitor your company name, your own name, and the names of important people in your company. Choose the “Comprehensive” alerts and get alerts at least once a day.
5. Check your foundational links – Make sure you’re listed in the Yahoo Directory, Open Directory, Business.com, and Best of the Web directories. Open Directory is the only one that’s free, but it can also be the hardest listing to get. (Submit and forget is the rule there.) Directory listings aren’t a golden ticket to high search engine visibility, but they do represent the foundation of a link building effort.
6. Get involved with your analytics – Don’t have web analytics? Gotta fix that. Google Analytics is more than adequate for many small businesses, and it’s free. Once you have analytics installed, pay attention to what the data tells you. Look at what keywords are sending natural search traffic to your site. Look at what other sites are referring traffic to you. There are usually new marketing opportunities to be found in both of those data sets.
By making a list (or using this one), and checking it twice, you can ensure a successful start to 2014 for your business.
Is there a list that you follow at the end of each year to make it easier to transition into the new year?