Today the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Google announced a new partnership and unveiled “Tools for Online Success,” an array of online resources and training designed to help small business owners harness technology to grow their businesses. The “Tools for Online Success” site (http://www.google.com/help/sba) features tutorials, video testimonials, and tips from savvy small business people who have leveraged the web to become more efficient, more cost-effective, and more successful.
“The SBA is pleased to partner with Google to put these important tools in the hands of small businesses across the country,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “As the web evolves and consumers adapt accordingly, we know that more customers are finding traditional ‘Main Street’ businesses online. With these tools for online success, we can ensure these small businesses reach new markets and customers so they can continue to create jobs.”
“One fifth of searches on Google are related to location, which shows that people are looking to the Internet to make decisions about where to go and what to do in their daily lives,” said John Hanke, Vice President of Product Management, Google. “We want to connect our users with the businesses that provide the goods and services they need, but the first step is for those businesses to have an online presence. We’re excited to team up with the SBA to make that process easier for business owners across the country.”
Visit the “Tools for Online Success” website for a full run-down, but here are a few easy tips all small business owners should be using:
• Establish your online presence. One out of five searches on Google are related to location. Most local online listings such as Google Places are free, and if your business doesn’t have a website, there are ready-made site templates and free hosting services that make establishing an online presence easy.
• Use free marketing to reach customers. You can build a fan base with free services like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter that keep your customers in-the- know about new products or specials and aware of promotions. These services are great “word of mouth” platforms – where a customer following you might tell their friends about your business.
• Know your customers. Easy to use web analytics tools can tell you a lot about your customers by analyzing what search term brought them to your website or what they look at while they are there. This information can help you make smart decisions about what you feature and what search terms you should run search ads on.
• Keep an eye on the latest trends. The growing popularity of smartphones means that more and more customers are searching for local information on the go. This makes it all the more important that a business’s online presence be accurate and up-to-date. You can link to your menu, give users driving directions, and even post digital coupons.