Oct 102012
 
Customers moving online presents challenges to hotels, cafes and restaurants.

For listeners of my regular spot on ABC Riverland, here’s a quick checklist for regional business owners to make sure their online presence is ready for the Christmas holidays.

Prospective customers are using the web to find businesses and attractions, so taking advantage of the free listing services by the major search engines and directories is the first step.

Google Plus Local

The search engine giant’s local service gives a free business listing that feeds into their results and those of many GPS devices and social media services.

Fill in as many fields as possible, making sure you don’t forget opening hours and payment methods you accept.

You can also upload photos and menus to your Google Local listing, all of these will help you come up higher in the search engine results.

True Local

News Limited’s True Local offers a similar service to Google and this also feeds into various services along with the local news sites run by the newspaper chain.

Again, fill in as many fields as possible and make sure all your essential business details are listed.

Sensis

While the Yellow and White Pages may be dying, a free listing with their site will help come up on the various Telstra sites and companies that partner with them.

Review sites

Eatability, Yelp and Tripadvisor are all popular sites and applications used by customers to research accommodation and venues. You need to grab your listing and check what previous customers have said about you.

Social media

Along with having your own listing on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and possibly sites like Pinterest; you should be doing regular searches to check what people are saying about you and your district.

One of the great things about social media is it’s a great market intelligence tool. For instance if there’s lots of people coming to your town to go fishing and there’s nobody catering for them, then this is an opportunity. Google Alerts can help you with this.

Your own website

Most important of all is your own website. Check that it works on smartphones and tablet computers, if necessary borrow a friend’s Android or Apple device and see what your site looks like on it.

When you review this with your web developer also check your keywords are working and make sure yourmeta-tagsall reflect what you have to offer your customers.

The Christmas-New Year rush is too important a period for hospitality business to miss out on customers. A few small thing might get you the visitors who might have kept on driving to the next town.

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