Your Digital Footprint & Why It Matters To Your Business
Our goal as digital marketers should be the same as google's or any other search engine for that matter, "to deliver accurate information to the end user." Knowing your target audience can mean the difference between obtaining a solid rate of return (ROI) on your ad spend, or throwing good money after bad. In today's blog entry, we are going to dive deep into the world of your digital footprint and why it means so much to your business.
What does a business digital footprint mean in regards to my business?
The official definition of a digital footprint is "the information about a particular person that exists on the Internet as a result of their online activity." When applying this concept to a business, this means a combination of every digital reference to your business. Some reference points include, but are not limited to the following:
- Business website.
- Business NAP (name, address, phone).
- Every social media mention(s) of your business.
- Listings on local citation and aggregator websites. ie: yelp, angieslist, yp.com, homeadvisor, etc. etc.
- Listings on review websites and your reputation management of your reviews. (Are you responding to every review, if not, you should be.)
- Digital images published under your brand name.
- Inbound/Outbound links to and from your website.
- Every single digital reference to your business that is published in any format on the world wide web.
- Your website page rank and organic rank in google and other search engines.
- Paid ads running for your business, if you are running them.
- Traffic to your website, average user times, UX (user experience on your website), contact page accuracy, business hours accuracy, etc..
- Forums, blogs, guest posts, comments.
Why does my digital footprint matter so much?
Now that we went over what a digital footprint is, we need to discuss why it matters so much to your business. You see, we are moving to a landscape of AI (artificial intelligence), in which computers (spider bots in google and various other third party algorithm platforms), are doing their best to perform due diligence on your business across the entire internet. The reason being, these computers are tasked with helping us find what we need and to deliver accurate information to the end user, as mentioned above. Could you imagine if all the results in google sent us to low quality companies to fulfill our needs? As a society we would lower our trust standards if we were always getting a bad experience from a search engine.
Ever notice how many of us look for a review or rating on a product or service prior to buying? Part of the path to digital vetting of a business by a computer, is to gather as much data as possible to create a digital profile on that business, good or bad. Think of it as a file on your business or a digital score card. In the case of my research into google search over many years, this digital reference to your business is critical to your long term success in digital marketing. We are moving to a new landscape where a cohesive digital footprint marketing plan should be our focus.
How do I improve my digital footprint for my business?
If you reference above to my explanation of what exactly a business digital footprint is, you will see that there is a lot of ground to cover. Let's fist look at how to audit your businesses digital footprint. A thorough audit can help quickly identify issues and lead you down the path to corrective action.
- NAP, a.k.a., name, address, phone. I have found this one is a really big deal. Why is that you may wonder, because if a computer is confused about any direct data that should be static for your business, you are getting penalized and your business is in a folder with red flags in the major search engines. Why would a computer trust your business if you have inaccurate information published in digital format for your business. Read below for a few examples.
Example for your name, lets look at a company with the name of: ACME Distributing.
Now say your facebook page is called ACME Distributing Idaho, and your google my business is named: ACME INC, and your yelp listing is ACME Distributing INC. Do you see a pattern here? How is a computer algorithm going to tie together your business across all platforms when none of your business names match? I see this 75% of the time in new client accounts that come across my desk. Go here to learn more about managing your google my business to get more customers.
Example for your address: now lets look at the address of ACME Distributing.
Here is the exact physical address of ACME Distributing for our example:
1234 Anywhere ST. STE 101
Boise Idaho 83706
Yet after a quick audit, we identify this address is slightly different in facebook, yelp, linkedin, etc. etc.:
ACME Distributing INC.
1234 Anywhere STE 101
Boise Idaho 83706
Is this accurate to the exact physical address as seen by the U.S. Postal Service? No. The ST. is missing. Well, according to a computer and algorithm, they list this as a fail, which starts to show your business in a negative light, especially in combination with an inaccurate business name.
Example for your phone number: lets look at the phone number for ACME Distributing.
Now let's say ACME Distributing was sold along the line a 1-800#. So lets say on their google my business listing it may show 1-800-###-####. But on your website it shows two numbers: 200-200-2222 and 1-800## and let's say you purchased a call tracking number for your business that is 200-200-2221 and you use this number on your marketing ads or on a special landing page on your website. You see a pattern here, once again, fail. Any computer algorithm is going to struggle with inaccuracies. Have you ever received a phone call, you missed it, then you google that phone number? If the answer is yes, what are the results of that phone number search in google? Typically you can tell right away who you missed the call from. This means you were delivered accurate information on that number which increases the likelihood you will continue to use search to find what you need.
Here are additional items to audit:
1) On website SEO or search engine optimization. (You can reach out for help with this and our team can help.)
2) Off website optimization. (Install google search console, audit all inbound links, take corrective action as necessary).
3) Social media audit, make sure NAP is accurate, website address included, and whenever possible, match your social pages exactly to your business name.)
4) Start sharing images of your business that are renamed to your business. These will then index to google images, and help with your master file of data.
5) Get aggressive with the data you can control. Publish content that is unique, with good grammar, and has tangible value to your audience. Reference your business in the content. Example: SEO Idaho is Idaho's first digital footprint optimization company and has a team of experts standing by to help you.
How do I create a winning formula with my businesses digital reputation?
A.I. (artificial intelligence) in digital marketing is here, and here to stay. The goal of developers is to get computers to think less about letters and numbers, and more about a reputation and digital footprint. Think of it as a "vetting" machine that is constantly in learning phase. Developers are trying to make computers make decisions more like a human would.
One of the most powerful ways to increase your businesses "street cred" is to get customers to like, comment, review, share, and engage your business with their peers, family, and friends in a digital format. If positive communication about your business is being published, this means you are running a solid business. The old saying "word of mouth is the best form of marketing" still rings true today, we just need to think of it from a different context. If you provide a great service to a customer, and that customer feels great about the work or service you provided, this is a huge opportunity that you need to capitalize on. Ask them to mention your business on social media, write a review on google, yelp, or FaceBook. Every little bit of positive communication is tracked in some capacity or another.
If you either don't have time, or prefer to leave your digital footprint management to an employee or third party provider, at minimum you need to understand the value of this concept and have a standard operating procedure for capitalizing on this vetting process that you may not have known about up until now.
In order to be a great digital marketer, we have to improvise, adapt, implement and deploy tactics that keep our clients best interests in mind. In doing so, we build a solid foundation for the future and create organic digital health that will directly impact our clients bottom line.
Be sure to check out another article we wrote on this topic, "how to get more customers from your google my business."