Tuesday, November 2, 2010

SMB Week Canada Wrap-Up: What’s a Small Business to Do?

Chris O’Neill, Managing Director for Google Canada, recently spoke at the 10th annual Small Business Forum organized by Enterprise Toronto. In his address, he highlighted a few essential steps all small businesses and entrepreneurs should be pursuing to grow their business and reach new customers.

So before you get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, take the opportunity to make sure you’re using every online tool available to you that can help you make the most of this shopping season. There’s no time like the present to engage in these five things:
  • Establish an Online Presence: 20 percent of searches on Google are related to location, so it’s important for local businesses to have a presences on the web. A website does not need to be complex to serve its purpose. Creating a user-friendly, well-structured website will also help search engines like Google find and index it easily. Google Webmaster Tools provides a free and easy way to make your website more Google-friendly.
  • Use Free Marketing to Reach Customers: People search Google.com and Google Maps to find local business, so make sure your customers know where you are and what you’re all about by claiming your free Google Places business listing. In addition to sharing your location, phone number and business hours, use Google Places to engage with customers by providing photos, video, coupons, public responses and more. You can also take advantage of free marketing opportunities by posting content to social networking sites, such as YouTube.
  • Know Your Customers: To understand why some visitors aren’t converting, get website analytics data and learn what potential customers are doing on your site. Google Analytics is one of these analytics products, and it’s a free and powerful tool that can help you answer questions about the effectiveness of your content, how engaged your users are with your site, where they abandon your shopping cart and much more. With the right data in your hands, you can make smarter website design decisions and also make sure that the money you spend on advertising is actually delivering the results you want.
  • Advertise Online: Online advertising is targeted, measurable and flexible. Products such as Google AdWords allow business owners like you to connect with your target audience at the exact moment they search for your products or services online. With AdWords, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad is taken directly to your website. You also get actionable analysis and performance information, so you know how to refine your ad copy or the keywords that trigger your ad to appear on the search results page. Plus, any business can be up and running in 15 minutes.
    • To find out about all our advertising tools and products, visit our Google for Advertisers site for Canadian businesses.
  • Embrace the Cloud: Web-based applications, such as Google Apps, are helping to streamline productivity and ensure that your business is running efficiently. Your employees can collaborate on documents in real-time and access them from anywhere, whether they’re on the road or at the office. This suite of online products also helps businesses spend less time and money managing email and other IT services, giving them the ability to focus more on what they do best: creating quality products and services, and sharing them with customers. Best of all, you can get started with Google Apps for free!
Posted by Andrew Swartz, Small Business Blog team

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