4 Ways To Boost your Online Presence


Today, interacting with customers happens most when they’re not
even in your store. Melissa Flanell (left) sends follow-up emails after
each class she teaches to boost reviews.

Like most industries, the firearms world has a mix of tech-savvy individuals and those who haven’t made the leap into the world where good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) spells success. There’s nothing wrong keeping old-fashioned marketing, but unless you live in a small town where you’re the only source, your business needs an online presence for it to have a fighting chance — especially as people rely more heavily on online buying.

Here are a few easy steps to increase your online presence, regardless of how well you understand acronyms or internet marketing.

1. Website Musts

The first thing to do is make sure you have a website. This is what most people will look at before deciding to step foot into your establishment. Websites can be intimidating and expensive, which is why many of us choose not to have one. This is the worst thing you can do.

Simply having a website showing your services or products, along with your store hours, address and contact info is an essential start. If a website isn’t in the budget, create one using tools available online. This isn’t as difficult as it used to be, but if this isn’t something you’d like to put your time toward, start putting money aside for a professionally built website. 

When looking for a web developer, be sure to shop around for quotes and references. Prices can be dramatically different for website development and the more features added, the more complex and expensive it gets. Starting with a basic website might be ideal at first. The backend of the website is user-friendly, so if anything needs to be changed you don’t have to pay the company every time.

While building the site, be sure to use keywords people will likely include in their search. You can nerd out on this topic by searching for platforms that generate keyword analytics and even research how your competitors rank online, which is more advanced but might be worth doing in the future. There are also plug-ins designed to optimize your SEO with keywords for the site, pages and individual products. All you have to do is enter them into a program and the work is done.

Another way to increase SEO is to include a blog on your website. Writing numerous articles using keywords will help push your website to the top when someone searches for that keyword or phrase.

2. Create A Google Business Listing

Once the website is created, the best way to determine your online presence is to Google your own company. This can be eye-opening, as you may realize how lacking your online presence might be. Your business might not appear at all, or the search brings up a lot of misinformation. Additionally, it might even show competitors or similarly named businesses in other towns.

To fix this, create a Google business listing. This can be done with a Gmail account or for a step-by-step list, search “Create a business profile on Google.” 

If you already have one, your company name should show up in a Google search, along with your address, business hours, reviews and more. Make sure all of the information is correct, especially the phone number, website and address. 

Next, create a similar business account with Yelp. Although it’s not as popular as it once was, other smaller search engines pull info from Google and Yelp. Additionally, be sure to create a profile for Apple Maps, which is fairly new and a bit foreign for many, but iPhones make up around 57% of smartphones in the U.S., and users rely on their device to quickly find a location.

3. Populate Reviews

Next, populate those reviews. Let’s face it, this is a huge traffic driver when someone searches for a new place to check out. If you don’t have many reviews, reach out to a few loyal customers who are familiar with your company and ask them to write one. 

Melissa Flanell, manager of Dragonman’s in Colorado Springs, Colo., relies on the company’s large email list. To get additional traction, she includes a direct link to Yelp at the bottom of every promotional email Dragonman’s sends.

“We have such great customers who leave Google reviews without any requests, but getting Yelp reviews can be a bit of a challenge,” she stated.

Flanell is also a firearms instructor. After every class, she sends a follow-up email with direct links to Facebook, Yelp and Google for reviews. If you don’t want to send out automated emails or texts, encourage staff to ask the customers after they wrap up a transaction. Creating an employee rewards program to recognize when the customer includes the employee’s name in a review is another incentive.

You can make a sign with something like “It Pays To Share Your Opinion” and strategically locate it where it will get a lot of attention. Some businesses put a sign by the register that informs customers they will receive a small discount if they leave a review.

(If you want to take things up a notch, ask customers to mention keywords you would like to be searched for, but that might be a stretch.)

4. Don’t Give Up On Social Media

Lastly, social media platforms are important, but in the age of shadow banning — especially in this industry — you can’t rely on it as much as other industries can. It’s still important to claim your business name on all platforms and post as often as possible.

To start, it’s a great way to populate more content when someone searches your business and might also generate organic followers. When creating a name for each social media platform, try your best to be consistent with each handle. For example, if “Dave’s Guns” isn’t available, don’t get creative with underscoring and other symbols. Instead, try “Dave’s Guns Houston.” That name is more likely to be available on all platforms and it prevents customers from confusing you with someone else three states over.

Be sure to include your business address on all profiles. This helps bring in potential customers who might be doing a search. Also, when posting to social media, use hashtags for the state, city and county where you’re located and add a location, such as your city. This helps fetch organic viewers who might turn into customers.

Following these easy steps is sure to put you on the map and increase business. Now customers can see what you have to offer, where you’re located, when they can visit and they’ll know what they can expect from the reviews they read. 

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